It’s 2 a.m. and a mother is up feeding her baby while simultaneously researching blogs, articles, posts, tweets and podcasts on her smart phone to help her decide what is best for her baby.
This is the age of the über-informed parent. Unlike parents of the past, today they don’t just blindly believe what they are told. With Google, mommy blogs and social media, parents know more than ever and, after weighing all the information, many are choosing organic.
In the Organic Trade Association’s U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes & Beliefs Tracking Study, a survey of more than 1,200 households in the US with at least one child under 18, more than a third of parents surveyed said they always choose organic brands for their infant or toddler. Meanwhile, three-quarters of daycares throughout the country now offer organic food.
More and more studies continue to confirm that choosing organic is critical when it comes to children. Research published in the past year alone found that children with higher levels of pesticide exposure test lower for intelligence and comprehension, have decreased lung function and higher risk of childhood leukemia.
The good news is that there are more organic options than ever. Here are some of our favorite finds from this year’s Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim California:
The Freshest in the Land
Once upon a time, all the processed baby food in the land had to undergo high heat processing to kill microorganisms that cause illness. Sadly, this process also killed many key nutrients and much of the flavor. Once Upon a Farm set out to save these nutrients. Using high pressure processing (HPP) instead of heat to ensure food safety, this new company has created a product that is about as close to freshly made baby food as possible.
While Once Upon a Farm has a fairytale-like name, this brand marks a real-world trend to return to refrigeration in order to offer the freshest, most nutrient-dense food possible. “Parents and caretakers have been reaching out to thank us for leading the paradigm shift away from shelf stable baby food,” said Cassandra Curtis, co-founder of Once Upon a Farm. “We are building awareness around the need for a change in the industry.”
Next to Nature
Another product that is shaking up the status quo for baby products is a new infant formula from Plum Organic. Shockingly, one of the main ingredients in most formulas, even organic ones, is a combination of corn-derived sugars such as corn syrup solids, glucose syrup solids and/or maltodextrin. With its new Grow Well Formula, Plum set out to develop a formula that was as close to breast milk as possible. Instead of using highly processed corn ingredients, Plum uses organic lactose as its sole form of carbohydrates. “Organic lactose is the most abundant carbohydrate found in breast milk and one of the key sources of fuel for baby’s growth,” points out Larissa Friesen, Plum’s infant formula lead.
To help babies’ brand new digestive and immune systems get a good start several brands have created lines with added probiotics. One of these is Wellements Baby. It launched Organic Gripe Water with Probiotics at Expo West. Gripe water is a seemingly magical potion made of sodium bicarbonate and herbs, which can help calm babies with gas, colic or hiccups. Now, with added probiotics, parents can simultaneously treat symptoms, while also building healthy gut flora to prevent problems in the future.
Additionally, Little Duck Organics recently launched Tiny Gummies and Tiny Yogurts, both with GanedenBC30 probiotics with a layer of protein that protects them during digestion. Research has shown that these bugs are 100 times more likely to survive than other probiotics. Another bonus, both the gummies and the yogurts from Little Duck leave out added sugar.
With more kids diagnosed with allergies than ever before, parents are searching for solutions, and brands are responding. California Baby recently launched a line of diaper creams with 51 percent less ingredients than its prior formulation. “We removed water and any other ingredient that required a preservative and then went preservative free!” says Miles Iclisoy, marketing coordinator. “By simplifying the formula and removing preservatives we can minimize allergic reactions.”
California Baby also developed a gluten-free eczema line. Studies have found that up to two-thirds of children with eczema also have food allergies, often including wheat and gluten. Yet, the main ingredient in many eczema products is oatmeal, which is almost always contaminated with gluten (oats are usually processed in a shared facility that also processes wheat or other grains that contain gluten). After a long search, however, California Baby was able to find a facility that processes only organic oats. The company also avoided other ingredients that often contain gluten including hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vitamin E (may be sourced from wheat germ oil) and triticum aestivum (another name for wheat).
Out of Africa
Many newly discovered super ingredients come from Africa where they have been used for years as natural medicine. Yorba Organics, a new personal care company, created a line of baby care products based around the healing powers of African ingredients and recently introduced them to the U.S. market.
Antioxidant-rich Baobab is used in Yorba’s baby powder and hand wash. Mafura, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and improves elasticity, is used in everything from nipple cream and diaper ointment to body wash and insect repellent. Kalahari Melon Oil, featured in its lotion and body butter, helps to restructure skin cell walls and has a high level of essential fatty acids to hydrate skin. Marula oil, which has a pH very close to that of human skin and is known for its cleansing properties, is used in Yorba’s baby foam bath. And, Kigelia, a clinically proven antibacterial that is known to repair damaged skin and treat very dry skin conditions, is the superstar in its stretch mark cream.
“Introducing these ingredients is always a risk as they are unknown, however we feel it is a privilege to bring them to the forefront of western culture,” says CEO, Keith Page.
Healthy Mama = Healthy Baby
You have heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” Well, “your baby is what you eat” is true as well. To ensure that mamas are getting the nutrition they need, Happy Family created the HappyMama Prenatal line, which includes bars squeeze packs to gummies and probiotics.
HappyMama oat bars and squeeze packs are formulated with key ingredients needed during pregnancy such as DHA and choline for brain and eye development and calcium for healthy bones. The gummies have all these ingredients, plus omega-3s and vitamin D3. The most innovative product in this line, though, is the Prenatal Probiotics. These flavorless single use packets can be added to drinks or unheated foods like applesauce, cereal or smoothies. When you are pregnant and right after birth, hormones do a job on your immune and digestive systems. This product uses strains of probiotics that specifically address these issues. Plus, it also supports the baby’s developing immune system. There is so much more but that is all we can fit in this issue—and this writer’s baby is crying right now, so this mama has to run!