Introduction to the Baby Foods List
This list is an adjunct to the Low Protein
Food List for PKU. Use it when your child begins to eat solid food,
then refer to the Low Protein Food List for
PKU (Third Edition, 2010) when you are ready to introduce table foods.
Introducing Your Baby to Solid Food
Introducing solid food to your infant is an exciting time for both children and
parents. It also can be a time of some anxiety for new PKU parents. Parents
tell me that while it was "scary" at first to introduce foods because of the
phe restrictions and the responsibility of "protecting my baby’s brain" through
careful control of the diet, they soon became more comfortable with all that
this entails, especially as they saw how well their baby grew and developed
--and you will too! I recommend that you consider joining the PKU Listserv (to
join, e-mail the group coordinator, Lin, at firstname.lastname@example.org).
This is a very large internet group of more than 1500 sympathetic and
knowledgeable parents who can support you as you go through all stages of diet
Please use the Baby Foods list as your PKU
treatment program staff advises, introducing cereal, fruits, vegetables, and
other items according to their recommendations. You must have an individual
diet prescription from a treatment program in order to choose items from the
list that are appropriate for your child’s phe tolerance and other diet needs.
Each child’s tolerance and needs are different. Also please be aware that some
foods in this list may be too high in phe for your child’s diet as the list is
designed for children with a wide range of phe tolerance. If you have any
questions, please consult with your PKU treatment program about which items are
suitable or not suitable for the diet you are managing. Blood phe monitoring at
regular intervals as recommended by your PKU treatment program is crucial to
ensure that your baby is getting the right amount of phe from food.
A Shout-Out to Parent Jen Crowe
I want to thank parent Jen Crowe (Philadelphia, PA), mother of Phoebe, age 2,
for obtaining much of the basic information found in this list. Contacting the
baby food companies did not always yield the information we wanted (see notes
below about Earth’s Best, Heinz, and Plum Organics brands), but Jen’s diligence
and persistence over a period of many months, with countless follow-up
communications, is the reason we have information from Gerber, Beechnut,
Sprout, Ella’s Kitchen, and a few items from Earth’s Best brand baby foods. Jen
says, "Phoebe, at almost 2 ˝ years, is a healthy, smart, funny little girl. She
is what brings me passion and drive to keep calling companies, in hopes of
adding more dietary options for families, especially those at the start of
their PKU journey."
Both Jen and I have spent many, many hours collecting and confirming data and
we both hope that you find the list to be a good guide.
Phe Data and Phe Data Changes
Please see my comments below for information about the origin of the phe
information in this list. I have done my best to estimate the phe based on
protein information provided by the baby food companies when phe was not
directly available. If you use this list conscientiously and feed your child a
variety of foods, any minor inaccuracies in the data should not prevent you
from managing the PKU diet extremely well, whatever the nature of your baby’s
phe tolerance. Please watch the website for any changes (corrections, additions
and deletions) to the Baby
Foods list Go to the Diet
Related Information section at
www.pkunews.org for a list that I will start as I find changes need to
be made. Also, because food companies frequently change their products, I would
appreciate hearing from anyone who becomes aware of product additions,
deletions, or reformulations. Please contact me at
email@example.com so that I can keep the list as updated as possible.
Good luck with diet management for your precious baby!
Nutritionist and Director
National PKU News
Jen Crowe with her daughter, Phoebe, at age 10 months.
Notes about the Baby Foods List Data
Gerber® Brand Foods
Nestle Nutrition/Gerber have kindly provided data found in this document on
their products. Gerber states, "Please be aware that all phe values are based
on analytical values or calculated values or both; values are not precise, both
because recipes may change or ingredients may vary in their protein content;
consumers can always check for updated values by contacting the manufacturer
The protein values in the list were not specifically provided by Nestle
Nutrition/Gerber, but were imputed from the phe values provided by the company,
by Virginia Schuett, nutritionist.
We are still waiting for phe data on a number of Gerber items and will add
those as soon as possible. These include a number of snacks and juices.
Earth’s Best and Heinz Brand Foods
Heinz failed to provide us with any new data for this list. All of the protein
data are from the second edition of the Low Protein Food List for PKU (2002).
Earth’s Best provided us with a limited amount of new protein information, on
only a handful of items in their product line.
For these two brands, all of the items for which we have no new protein
information are shown in blue (items with new protein data are shown in black).
Despite the lack of new protein data for many of the items in the Earth’s Best
and all of the Heinz baby food, each item was still carefully reviewed and
changes in phe estimates were made as appropriate, based on data found in USDA
National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23, 2010.
Beechnut, Sprout, and Ella’s Kitchen Brand Foods
These three companies kindly provided accurate protein data for this list, but
as is typical of food companies (with the exception of Gerber) they do not have
phe analysis on their products. Phe values were estimated by Virginia Schuett,
nutritionist, based on ingredients in each food and the ratio of phe to protein
in those ingredients (from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard
Reference, Release 23, 2010).
Beechnut provides the following caveat about the nutritional data they
provided: "Please understand that this information is a compilation of
calculated and data based values, and is offered as guidance only, and not
intended to comply with any applicable labeling regulations or standards. Our
product mix, formulas, and processing techniques are constantly changing as we
seek to improve our products, and this may cause the actual packed product to
vary from the information we share with you in this spreadsheet. Ingredient
sources also vary in nutritional content, both seasonally and geographically,
which also imparts some variability to our product catalogue."
There are some Beechnut items for which the company provided no unrounded
protein figures, but I have estimated phe based on rounded protein plus 0.5 gm
which may or may not be as accurate as phe based on unrounded protein, and
noted these items in red.
Also, there are a number of newer Beechnut items (from the New Products from
Beechnut section of their website) for which we are still trying to obtain
Plum Organics Brand Foods
We tried very hard to get accurate protein information for this brand of baby
and toddler foods but were ultimately unsuccessful. I have included a few plain
fruit items from this brand because of interest from families. I based phe
estimates on the ingredients and USDA data and believe these to be very good
estimates because the items are single fruits. I have noted these items in
Accuracy of Phe Data in the Baby Foods List
Keep in mind that, with the exception of the phe data provided by Nestle
Nutrition/Gerber, the phe data provided in this list are estimates only. These
phe estimates are based on the protein content provided by the food companies
or from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23,
(2010), on the ingredients in each food, and on phe data for these ingredients
found in the USDA database.
I have no way to verify the accuracy of the protein data provided to me by the
food companies, other than questioning anything that looks really
inappropriate, and trying to confirm the data with the company; thus I don’t
know whether significant variations in stated protein content between brands
for the same type of food (such as a certain fruit or vegetable) are due to
variations in the "recipe" for that item or something intrinsic to the analysis
itself. For example, I cannot explain why one company’s baby carrots are much
higher in protein than another company’s carrots. One would expect to have
similar protein/phe content for similar items, especially when there is only
one main ingredient. Is the difference found in the ratio of carrots to water
added in the product, or to flaws in the analysis itself? We have no way to
So keep in mind that the phe estimates are only as accurate as data provided by
the company. Ultimately, your baby’s blood phe level is your only true gauge of
phe intake and so it is especially crucial that you monitor the blood level
frequently in the early months and years of life.
In estimating phe for mixed ingredient items, when available, the percentage of
the ingredient in each food was also considered (such as for Ella’s Kitchen
items where the company provides a breakdown of ingredient percentages);
otherwise, for mixed ingredient items, assumptions were made about the relative
contribution of each ingredient to the total protein/phe. These assumptions may
or may not be completely accurate.
Please see the introductory material to the
Low Protein Food List for PKU for further explanation of phe estimates.
Last update: March 2011
National PKU News: www.pkunews.org