Heavy metals and babies have been making headlines. If you have concerns about heavy metals in baby food, here’s what to know and how to reduce exposure to harmful ingredients in baby foods.
You may have heard about the congressional investigation published recently regarding heavy metals in baby foods.
In a nutshell, the study found that internal policies from several very well-known baby food companies allow for “dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals.”
Additionally, the report mentioned other common baby foods, like sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, puffs, O’s cereals, rice, and fruit yogurt.
This may have you wondering how worried you should be and where else heavy metals may be hiding in kid foods. Why should we care about heavy metals, anyway?
Listen – we’re mamas first, too. We take this kind of information seriously, and are equally frustrated.
We know it can feel like the things you “need to know” for feeding healthy kids can feel a mile long at times. But we also want to lay out the facts about heavy metals and babies, and hopefully help ease any panic.
Why heavy metals are a problem
Heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, are found in some baby and toddler products.
This is worrisome as these metals have been linked to problems with health and cognitive development. And of course, there are no established “safe” levels of these compounds for babies.
Sadly, this information isn’t new.
We don’t take this issue lightly, but fear messaging isn’t the answer either. You don’t need to swear off packaged products all together.
Following a few simple guidelines can help to minimize your child’s exposure to these potentially harmful contaminants.
How to reduce heavy metal exposure
When it comes to feeding babe, understanding where heavy metals are most likely found can help you minimize exposure in your home.
Limit rice-based products
Rice naturally contains arsenic because of the way it’s grown. Rice, and other plant foods, tend to uptake more heavy metals from the soil in which they are grown.
Certain growing regions have less arsenic in the soil that others. Some reports have recommended buying rice from California, India, or Pakistan.
Cooking rice like you would cook pasta can also reduce arsenic. Rinse it before cooking, cook in extra amounts of water, and drain excess.
We recommend limiting rice-based products, like puffs and teething biscuits, where possible. Oat-based cereal may be a better option, and many are iron-fortified.
Additionally, white rice has less arsenic than brown rice. If you frequently prepare rice, replace it with another whole grain sometimes, like quinoa, barley, or millet.
Avoid fruit juice
Many fruit juices contain some heavy metals.
But we recommend delaying introductions to juice until at least age two anyway, and limiting it after that due to high added sugar intake.
Many healthy foods contain heavy metals.
Feeding your baby a wide variety of healthy plant foods can help reduce overall risk for heavy metal exposure.
Plus, offering variety helps optimize nutrition and reduce picky eating, and is something we recommend practicing anyway.
Know the facts
It’s likely true that ALL baby food products are going to contain some level of heavy metals, simply because of what they contain and how they’re made.
This may include homemade baby food, but we don’t have data to determine whether this is any better.
Unfortunately, even baby food that carries an organic label doesn’t mean that it’s “safer” in terms of heavy metal content.
When it comes down to it, some foods contain metals due to plant structure, not because of organic versus conventional agricultural practices. In fact, the recent report tested both and didn’t find that one was better than the other.
We know that everything in life carries a risk, including heavy metals and babies. And the last thing you need is another thing to worry about, like harmful ingredients in baby food. Implementing these easy strategies can help reduce exposure to heavy metals in baby food.
Chime in: Have you read this report? What are your thoughts?
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