When a baby turns the tender age of 6 months, most parents begin introducing solid foods to ensure their child's proper nutrition. At this point, the question is whether to go the homemade route or store-bought. Based on findings from a new study, babies that are fed store-bought food have to eat twice as much than those who are fed homemade foods in order to get the same energy and protein.

Findings of the report published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood reveal that babies who ate ready-made foods got half the nutrients, more calories, and a “very high” sugar content compared to their counterparts who ate homemade foods. The researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland analyzed all of the baby foods produced by Cow & Gate, Heinz, Boots, Hipp Organic, Organix, and Ella’s Kitchen. These UK-based products included ready-made cereal that could be made with milk, water, biscuits, bars, snacks, and cakes, The Guardian reports.

Nutritional information, such as calories, fat, and iron contained within each product, was obtained by the researchers from the products themselves, e-mail inquiries, and the manufacturers' websites.

The average commercial product contained 67 calories per 100 grams. These food products also had half the amount of nutrients — with the exception of iron — that the homemade foods did. Fifty grams of homemade food would give the same amount of energy and protein as 100 grams of a similar commercial product, wrote the researchers.

Of the 479 store-bought products used in the study, 65 percent contained high sugar content. Naturally, infants tend to like sweeter foods, which is why baby food manufacturers produce foods with very high sugar content. "The UK infant food market mainly supplies sweet, soft, spoonable foods targeted from age four months,” wrote the researchers.

With approximately two-thirds of the commercial baby foods classified as too sweet, continued exposure to these foods in early infancy could lead children to lean toward sweeter foods with age and potentially cause dental decay. “Parents should be aware of processed foods, artificial sweeteners in fruits and ‘baby-friendly’ yogurts and yogurt drinks,” said Dr. Peter Richel, chief of the pediatrics department at Northern Westchester Hospital, to Health magazine.

For parents who want to prepare homemade baby food and reduce the risk of their infant having tooth decay, purees provide an easy way to introduce children to solid food while delivering the optimal amount of nutrients.

For homemade baby food puree recipes, visit Cookinglight.com.