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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Ashdown Group: Business Relationship Manager

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Business Relationship Manager - Enfield, North Lond...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Benedict Cumberbatch attends a special screening of his latest film The Imitation Game  

Benedict Cumberbatch race row: What's the actual difference between 'coloured' and 'person of colour'?

Matthew Norman
Pressure is growing on Chris Grayling to abandon the Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its prisons (Getty)  

What in sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Justice Secretary?

Matthew Norman
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea