“ Manufacturer: Boots / Age: 4 Months+ „
With my 7 month old daughter on three solid meals a day, I continue to make batches of homemade food for her and freeze them in batches. I like to follow many of the recipes in the Annabel Karmel and Lorraine Kelly weaning books but as I am making more meals for my daughter rather than purees I need to use stock in some of the recipes. Some of the books suggest making your own stock from scratch but to be honest, with a baby, I really don't have the time or inclination to do so. So, I began looking around for a low salt stock that I could use for making my baby's meals. My first try were the Heinz baby vegetable stock cubes which were low salt but lacked any taste whatsoever. My sister then suggested the Boots version which I then picked up a couple of weeks ago.
These Boots Baby Organic Stock CUbes cost £1.55 for a pack of 6. I purchased the vegetable version of these stock cubes. On the front of the pack, it states that these stock cubes are suitable across all three stages of weaning, evening from the early stages when you are maybe starting to make meals rather than just purees all the time. These stock cubes also contain no artificial colours or flavours, are gluten free, organic, and have a controlled stock levels. They are also suitable for vegetarian diets as well.
It was the salt content that was what concerned me the most about general stock cubes, however, stock made from one of these cubes only contains 0.03g of salt, which I think is reasonable. You could also reduce this salt more as you can cut a cube to make up smaller portions for baby meals.
These stock cubes are individually wrapped in foil and do resemble a normal vegetable stock cube in colour and in consistency. In fact, I doubt you would notice any difference between the two when making up stock. As I mentioned I had previously tried the Heinze baby vegetable stock cubes and really thought they tasted bland in the food. I had used them to make vegetable soup that would be suitable for my husband, myself and my daughter, and there was a huge difference in taste in comparison to using a normal salt cube. The soup tasted much much blander, and although my daughter ate the soup well, I was keeping a look out for something that would suit us all as as family that had some taste without al the added salt.
The great thing about these stock cubes is that they actually do offer more flavour - not as much as a normal stock cube, but them given you have reduced salt that is hardly surprising, however there still is a flavour with them which is what I want. I have now used almost all of the cubes in this pack, making soup, casseroles etc for my daughter, and all of them have avoided that blandness that the Heinz stock cubes had.
I will continue to purchase these as I can be confident that my daughter is getting good tasty meals without the high salt content that I normal stock cube contains.
I had high hopes for these stock cubes but found them very disappointing. They do, indeed, have reduced salt, which is vital for babies ad children (and pretty darn important for the rest of us too!) but I found that they had so little flavour that they left my soup and stew far blander than usual.
All of us like tasty food - who doesn't - and our daughter prefers things with good flavour just as we do. She likes nice stews, curry, soup and so on so I bought these with that in mind but soon gave up on them. The remainder are sat in our cupboard.
Honestly you're better off chopping up a carrot, some celery and an onion and frying them in a little mustard seed or some herbs. No salt (unless you fry in butter - Mmm!) and tastier.
I also found it concerning that they're recommended from 4 months when the current recommendation is that babies should not start solids before 6 months or they have met a checklist of readiness signs, such as losing the tongue thrust reflex, sitting unaided and showing interest, grabbing for food etc. With the current research into the problems associated with starting solids too early I felt that the packaging was potentially misleading and dangerous.
Added salt is a big no-no for babies' food. Obviously, their diet must contain some salt as it is needed to maintain the electrolyte balance in the body, but too much can be extremely harmful. It is rare, but sadly not unheard of for babies to die from an overdose of salt as a result of being given foods which are not age-appropriate, such as gravy, breakfast cereals and adult meals which have had salt added during cooking.
The recommended maximum salt intake for a baby under one year is less than 1g, which is the amount contained in two slices of bread. As both breastmilk and formula milk - being complete foods for this age group - contain the correct amount of salt, there is no need for any solid food to contain additional salt. If you would like to know more about salt in your or your children's diets, more information can be found here:
There are several product ranges available which are specifically formulated for babies and have controlled levels of salt. Boots Baby Organic is one such range, and along with the jars and finger foods it includes organic stock cubes in vegetable, chicken and beef flavours, which are suitable for babies of four months and up. As they are organic, they contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. I am vegetarian, so I have only used the vegetable flavour, which is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
The box contains six individually-wrapped cubes (these aren't actually cubes. They're rectangular cuboids. If, like me, you are pedantic about that kind of thing, this will irritate you). These have a high vegetable fat content - it comes first on the ingredients list - which means that they don't crumble in the way that, say, an Oxo cube does. This doesn't prevent them dissolving quickly and easily in water, though, which is good because I find chasing that one piece of undissolved cube around the measuring jug very annoying.
Each cube makes 500ml of stock, although you can cut the cube up if you don't need this much and use the rest of it another time, so long as you wrap it up properly. It makes an appetising-smelling stock which rather reminds me of a time when it was considered that a stock cube and hot water make a perfectly acceptable soup. The blend of vegetables and herbs - comprising onion, carrot, leek, celery, lovage, parsley, oregano, rosemary and thyme (I defy anyone to resist a 'Scarborough Fair' earworm after reading that) - is well-balanced, since none of the ingredients is particularly identifiable; it tastes like nice vegetable stock, to be honest.
I made leek and potato soup with this yesterday and it came out rather well, if I do say so myself. You can use it for any recipe which requires normal stock, and if you like the taste of salt you can easily add it to your own meal after cooking. Obviously, as well as being suitable for babies, this is also ideal for anyone who is on a low-salt diet for medical reasons.
The nutrition information on the packet has the sodium content as 0.03 gram per 100ml, but it offers no salt equivalent figure. I wish manufacturers wouldn't do this; sodium content means nothing to me and it's a pain trying to work out the salt equivalent, as this is done by multiplying the sodium content by 2.5. In any case, the salt content of 500ml of stock is 0.375 gram, which is very low considering how little of that a baby is actually going to consume.
I do have one further comment to make about this product. I just happen to have a packet of Kallo Organic Very Low Salt Vegetable stock cubes and I thought it might be interesting to compare them. Interesting is certainly the word, since I found that:
They have an identical ingredients list
They have identical nutritional information
They have identical foil wrapping
The cubes are pretty indistinguishable in colour, texture and smell
They both contain six cubes and have a product weight of 66g
The boxes are exactly the same size
They are both made in Germany
You can draw your own conclusions here, but the only difference I can find is that the Kallo version costs around 95p and is available in most supermarkets, whereas the Baby Organic version costs £1.49 and is only available from Boots. A 50% 'parent paranoia' mark-up on a comparable product simply for adding the word 'Baby' to the packaging is pretty shabby behaviour, particularly from such a large company as Boots, whose overhead costs surely cannot justify such an inflated price.
I hesitate to give fewer than five stars because it is a very good product in its own right, but the fact remains that it is overpriced compared to other brands. Still, it is good that such products are available to avoid the need to use an alternative which may contain more salt than is healthy for a young baby.