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Healthy eats for little people ...

‘As a first-time-granny-in-waiting, veteran grandparents warned me to be careful about giving advice to the new parents,’ says Justine Tyerman. ‘Zip it!’ seemed to be the standard response when I asked for words of wisdom to equip me for my important new role in life.

However, not only have I had no reason to proffer advice, the flow of knowledge has been in the opposite direction. I've been learning many wonderful things from our daughter who has access to the kind of information not readily available when I was a young mother.

Nutrition for infants is one of many topics she's well informed about. Like many of her generation, she scrutinises the contents of all processed foods and wouldn't dream of opening a can or packet of baby food for her seven-month-old daughter. Everything is homemade using fresh, organic produce with no salt, sugar or other additives. It's time-consuming but she wouldn't have it any other way.

So when my young Gizzy-born friend and mum-of-two Emily Spear told me she was so shocked with the baby food available at the supermarket that she had decided to launch her own range of products, I was all ears.

It all began when Emily and husband Andy's son George began eating solids. Emily made all his food from scratch and spent a lot of time coming up with exciting recipes for him to try.

“We were lucky that George was a big eater but this also meant we were forever topping up our freezer stash,” says Emily.

“He was also very active so we were out and about with him every day. We found it particularly difficult organising, storing and heating his meals safely when we were away from home.

“So we began looking into some convenient options for when we were on the go. What we found was quite horrifying. It was almost impossible to find a savoury meal on the supermarket shelf that wasn't loaded with fruit — in fact, fruit was often the main ingredient. And almost all had some kind of filler such as tomato paste or rice flour bulking it up. The percentages stated in the list of ingredients often only added up to 30 to 40 percent.

“I did not want George to have fruit in savoury purees for several reasons — fruit masks flavours and if you are masking the real flavour of vegetables, your baby is less likely to accept them as he or she gets older,” says Emily.

“Studies have shown that babies have a natural tendency to like sweet foods because breast milk and formula are sweet so they need to be ‘trained' to like savoury flavours.

“Also fruit is high in sugar . . . say no more.”

Long story short, a year and a half later when Emily was 34 weeks pregnant with their second baby, the couple launched Petite Eats, a 100 percent natural New Zealand-made baby food that uses organic produce and free-range meat.

“There's absolutely no fillers, no preservatives, no added sugar or salt . . . no nasties,” says Emily.

“We use only ingredients that you would find at home.”

The purees come in 150g clear pouches with flavours like chicken and root vegetable medley; beef cottage pie; carrot, pumpkin and turmeric; and apple and beetroot.

All the ingredients are listed on the packets — eg beef cottage pie for babies aged eight months-plus contains: carrot 40 percent, beef 20 percent, kumara 20 percent, potato 18 percent, garlic 1 percent, and paprika 1 percent.

Some time later, when daughter Willa was about to start solids, Emily looked at George's old bibs and bowls and decided it was high time to launch a collection of feeding essentials such as sippy cups, suction bowls and spoons, silicone bibs, bibs with sleeves and no-spill snack containers.

“Each item can be easily cleaned and is designed to minimise the ‘mess' that solids bring.

“Most of the products are made from silicone which is naturally antibacterial, dishwasher and microwave-safe.”

Petite Eats has also engaged their own nutritionist, Charlotte Chapman, from My Foodie Family, to offer expert advice and recipes that parents can make at home using the purees as a base.

“We created Petite Eats Purees so that parents would have a convenient food option for their babies without sacrificing the health benefits of homemade meals. We wanted to provide something parents could actually feel good about giving to their babies,” says Emily.

• The puree undergoes a special manufacturing process to ensure it is 100 percent safe and shelf-stable.

Emily Spear from Gisborne and her son George, 7 months, with some of the fresh ingredients used in her range of baby foods. Pictures supplied
Silicone suction bowls with matching spoons.
This little tot is keen to get at the contents of a pouch of Petite Eats.
There are silicone building blocks and teething balls too.
Bibs with sleeves to alleviate the ‘mess' factor of solid food.
The purees come in packets with clear pouches.