KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Infant feeding guidelines have dramatically changed since baby food products first launched. After recent reports questioned the safety of many staple baby food brands and a class action lawsuit was launched against them, the modern practice of ditching purees called baby-led weaning has become infinitely more palatable.
The concept of baby-led weaning is technically not a new one. This was the way babies were fed before the existence of the baby food aisle. In short, baby led weaning is simply being given soft foods from family meals alongside breast milk starting at 6 months.
Experts once suggested solids be introduced at 4 months of age.This is a time in infant development when hand eye coordination and swallowing skills require spoon feeding. The jar baby food industry was born to make this method of feeding more convenient.
However in 2003 WHO changed recommendations to starting solids at 6 months. By this age, infants are able to feed themselves by hand, making purees virtually unnecessary.
On february 5th 2021 shocking industry reports made national newscasts questioning the safety of purees in the US. These reports and upcoming changes to government food regulations underline the increasing importance of baby led weaning.
The published findings by the congressional report in the US included dangerously high levels of toxins in leading baby food brands. The report stated: “Exposure to toxic heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children.”
A class action lawsuit against the listed baby food manufacturers launched a week after the report was announced. The report also suggested that there was negligence of large food manufacturers to cooperate with the investigation.
Health Canada responded saying “baby food is safe” yet also said that “it’s working to establish new guidelines for maximum allowance of arsenic in rice based baby foods and working to lower the amount in children’s fruit juice.”
Today these products are not just ubiquitous in stores, they are given priority donation status at food banks to already vulnerable populations. If the report and lawsuits are found to have merit, baby-led weaning will not just continue to grow in popularity, puree brands that were once household names may become relics of the past.
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