Viv Groskop: It's not baby food that's bad for babies...

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Another day, another story to strike fear into the heart of any guilty middle-class parent. A study by the University of Greenwich has found that "top-selling baby foods lack vital nutrients essential for growth and protection against illness". The results are reported as a "warning" by "experts". Quick. Put a lid on that jar of puréed cottage pie.

Dr Nazanin Zand, author of the study published in the journal Food Chemistry, says: "The Government has focused on the importance of breastfeeding and the health of school meals but has neglected baby foods given inbetween." That at least is interesting. In fact, it's headline news. The Government has got something right. If there is one thing I cannot be bothered to berate them for, it is their inattention in the baby food department.

The truth about the study is that it's a super-geeky analysis of the mineral content of processed baby food using a machine called an inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometer. I actually like the sound of this machine. "Who will dare to question the spectrometer?" And maybe the scientists' findings will be useful for food manufacturers.

What's worrying is that there's a growing appetite for reporting these things as if they really matter. And that appetite exists because of parents' worst fears: that they're no good. How has it come to this? Spectrometers and busybodies everywhere are spoiling the fun of parenting.

Baby food is just the latest in a series of things you can mess up. The type of birth you have, the method of milk distribution (and the nature of the milk), your employment status (if you're a woman), your household TV use, whether you use Calpol or Nurofen, go state or private, or correctly complied with all the elements of this morning's self-flagellation ritual.

There is a huge market for stories which pit parents against each other or use science to "prove" that something parents are doing is evil and dangerous. Meanwhile, normal people muddle through however best they can, using jars some of the time and hand-mushing carrots the rest. The only difference is that nowadays they do it with a constant backdrop of carping, tutting and comparison.

The real story? Baby food is not bad for babies. The constant stream of judgement directed against parents is what's bad for babies. Don't stress about breast versus bottle or the lack of minerals in baby food. Stress about the dismantling of the NHS. That is far more likely to ruin our children's lives than the odd jar of Heinz cauliflower cheese. And unfortunately no spectrometer will be there to save us.

The modern way to bag a prince

The emergence of "Harry Hunting" as a teen sport is perplexing. This is the trend for girls to semi-stalk Prince Harry in the hope he will spot them and they'll bag themselves a prince, Kate Middleton-style.

The US press is already obsessed with these girls, flying reporters over to stalk the adolescent stalkers. They are usually the mid-teen daughters of upper-middle-class types with easy access to London's King's Road. Now Channel 4 has filmed a documentary about them, First Cut: Marrying Prince Harry, which airs tonight.

Their pursuit is curiously innocent. They picket charity awards ceremonies where Harry is rumoured to appear. They go to Sloane Square Starbucks because there was once an alleged sighting. Meanwhile, Ladbrokes cites their odds at 1,000-1. Hey, it's better odds than the lottery. So good luck to them.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

What I saw on the night my husband was hit by a car

Rebecca Armstrong
UK border control at Heathrow Airport  

Luckily for Barbara Roche, formerly of the Home Office, Easter reminds us that heaven loves the repenting sinner best

Matthew Norman
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit