Complementary feeding in German infants

Home-made and commercial complementary meals in German infants: results of the DONALD study

Hilbig et al., JHND Early View


Infant complementary food can be home-made or bought as ready-to-eat commercial products. The nutrient composition of commercial products is regularised in a European Commission guideline, whereas the preparation of home-made complementary meals is the responsibility of caregivers. In the present study, the composition of commercial and home-made complementary meals as eaten by healthy German infants was compared.


Of 8226 complementary meals (74% commercial and 26% home-made) recorded in 1083, 3-day weighed dietary records from 396 participants (6–12 months old) of the German DONALD (DOrtmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed) study were analysed.


Median energy density (kcal 100 g–1) was highest in commercial and home-made cereal–milk meals (89 kcal 100 g–1). In home-made savoury and cereal–fruit meals, the energy density was significantly higher compared to their commercial counterparts. Median protein contents were highest in savoury and cereal–milk meals (>2.5 g 100 g–1) and dairy–fruit meals (2–4 g 100 g–1). Added sugars were found in less than a quarter of meals. Highest median sodium contents were found not only in commercial savoury meals (median 38 mg 100 g–1) and vegetable meals (32 mg 100 g–1), but also in home-made cereal–milk meals (36 mg 100 g–1). Both median fat and iron contents were higher in home-made meals compared to commercial savoury and cereal–fruit meals.


With the exception of the higher sodium content in commercial savoury meals for older infants, the lower fat content in commercial savoury and cereal–fruit meals, and the added sugar content in some commercial dairy–fruit meals, a comparison of commercial and home-made complementary meals did not reveal any serious inadequacy.

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