No, you aren’t imagining it: your baby actually does prefer your homemade mashed potato to the jar of store-bought stuff you fed her yesterday. And not only that, but it might just be better for her long-term health, too.
A study published this month in the International Journal of Obesity, conducted by researchers at McGill University Health Centre and the Montreal Children’s Hospital, gathered data from 65 infants at the ages of six months, nine months, 12 months and three years of age. The study’s goal: to investigate whether the type of food the babies ate (homemade, store-bought or a combination) was associated with any differences in body mass, growth and diversity of diet by the time they hit their preschool years.
The results – perhaps not a surprise to those of you who regularly go the homemade route when you’re feeding your little one – were notable. According to study author Dr. Elise Mok, the more homemade foods the babies consumed, the lower their body mass index after their first birthdays and the more likely they were to eat diverse diets. “The results could have implications for preventing obesity and chronic diseases associated with poor food choices,” Dr. Mok told Reuters.
It might not be time to pitch all your store-bought baby food just yet – not surprisingly, the study’s reliability is limited by its small size, the trustworthiness of parent self-reporting and the affluence level of participants. But it’s kind of nice to get some confirmation of what we’ve suspected all along: homemade food is the probably the best choice for our little ones.
And if you’re balking at the idea of making baby food from scratch, don’t worry: it’s way easier than you think. Whip up a batch of well-cooked pureed sweet potatoes, carrots or peas to portion and freeze in an ice cube tray, or fork-mash an avocado or ripe banana right at the table. See? You’ll be a baby food-making pro in no time.