(NewsUSA) - The formulas and canned peas our parents fed us have largely fallen out of vogue -- today's parents breastfeed (or purchase organic formula) and run homegrown carrots through food mills. But what's really necessary? And with so many products proclaiming their health benefits, how can parents tell what's truly good for their babies?
Storebought food can be perfectly healthy -- but make sure that you're buying the right kind. Dr. William Sears, a best-selling author and noted pediatrician, is one of the country's foremost experts on pediatric health and nutrition. He provides five simple tips to ensure that the foods you give your baby or toddler will set a pattern of healthy eating for a lifetime:
Dr. Sears' Five Tips for a Healthy Start
1. Parents should shape children's tastes, not control them. Surround your kids with a wide variety of nutritious, new foods, and they'll enjoy exploring new tastes, colors and textures. Exercise patience. Young children may need to see or try a new food many, many times before they eat it with gusto.
2. Buy organic. Little ones' bodies are not able to handle the possible pollutants in non-organic foods, and are especially susceptible to pesticides and other chemicals and toxins. A great choice is organic yogurt, like YoBaby yogurts from Stonyfield Farm. Plenty of nutrition, no artificial colors, flavors or synthetic hormones.
3. Get kids on the right track early. Help your children develop a taste for fruits and veggies from the start. Make sure that you buy organic apples, apricots, cantaloupe, cherries, green beans, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and winter squash, for these fruits and vegetables often contain high levels of pesticides when grown conventionally.
4. Look out for additives in baby food. Avoid the terrible three: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and any color additive with a number symbol. Salt is no longer added to most commercial baby foods, but you still need to watch out for added sugar and modified food starches, which provide calories but no nutrition.
5. Set a good example. Parents should be healthy-eating role models for their children.