Heavy Metals in Baby Food – Is Your Baby Safe?
When it comes to feeding your baby, it’s essential to make sure you’re giving them healthy food that will help them grow. Throughout recent years, we’ve learned that many leading brands of prepackaged baby food contain high levels of heavy metals—including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. This isn’t what you want for your baby.
As a parent, what can you do? Do you have to quit feeding your baby all prepackaged foods? What are your options?
Start With a Healthy Variety of Food
According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), you don’t have to quit using prepackaged baby foods. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need to switch to organic food. Feed your baby a healthy variety of different foods. That way, your baby won’t be exposed to heavy metals.
Breastfeeding your baby (if possible) is another way to avoid heavy metals in baby food. Formula mixed with tap water could contain lead—if it’s in your water. Older homes often have pipes that may contain too much lead, and you can limit your baby’s exposure through breastfeeding or mixing your baby formula with bottled water.
Limit Rice Intake
Rice tends to absorb more arsenic from groundwater than many other grains, and unfortunately, rice is often used in baby foods—like rice puffs and rice cereal. While feeding your baby a small amount of rice isn’t a problem, the AAP recommends limiting that amount to avoid arsenic exposure. A good way to help decrease your baby’s rice intake is to look for other options besides rice cereal and rice products, such as oat cereal and multigrain cereal.
Don’t Smoke or Vape
Secondhand smoke can expose children to heavy metals like cadmium and lead. Vaping also releases toxic metal into the air that may be harmful to children. These heavy metals can increase a child’s cancer risk later in life.
Make Your Own Baby Food
To avoid heavy metals in baby food, you can make your own. This may sound expensive, but it will save you money and help your baby’s health. You can steam vegetables, puree them in a blender, and feed them to your baby right there on the spot. Freeze the puree in an ice cube tray and heat it later.
You can also use a baby food grinder to puree some of your own food for your baby. This way, you don’t have to make an entirely different meal for your little one, and you can enjoy the same food together. There are many ways to make baby food, and it can be a fun way to be creative and save some money.
Baby-led weaning is another approach that is gaining popularity. The basic idea is to allow babies to be in charge of mealtime. Parents and caregivers look for cues that the baby is ready to share the same meal as the rest of the family, albeit in smaller portions, and based on what is safe and age-appropriate. Research is limited on this approach but optimistic. Talk with your pediatrician about baby-led weaning.
Here at Rainbow Pediatrics, we understand that you want to keep your baby as healthy as possible, and limiting your baby’s exposure to heavy metals in baby food is a top priority. We’d be happy to talk with you about any questions you may have about what to feed your child through every stage of their development.