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Nearly 80% of parents use processed pre-packaged baby foods during weaning, according to our survey, which could be damaging to long-term baby gut health


With such a high percentage of parents using pre-packaged baby foods, Weaning World, The Gut Stuff, BioGaia and Lucy Upton have teamed up to provide parents with healthier recipe alternatives, advice and answers to their burning questions.

Weaning World has conducted a survey asking 660 parents how often they use or used pre-packaged baby pouch food during weaning.

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80% of parents from the survey said they used processed pre-packaged baby foods during the first months of weaning.

The first 1,000 days of a baby’s life are crucial for development – and pre-packaged baby food pouches may be doing more harm than good.

Pre-packaged baby foods have nutritional differences from home cooked foods that can impact the long-term gut development of babies. For example, a recent study** found that two-thirds of commercially available pre-packaged baby foods exceed the WHO’s guidelines for volumes of salt, sugar and calories. 44.8% of parents in the survey believed that pre-packaged baby food was either Natural or Unprocessed. There is a clear need for educating parents on what goes into pre-packaged baby foods and what they should look out for as consumers. From our survey, 68.8% of parents viewing an image of a baby pouch meal answered that they believed it would be healthy.

“Nutritional choices in a baby’s early weeks and months of weaning and beyond play a pivotal role in shaping the gut microbiome development.” – Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietician

Establishing a healthy gut microbiota during early development lays the foundation for lifelong well-being, making it essential to prioritise gut health interventions during this formative time.

Evidence points towards that ultra-processed food-rich diets, particularly in early years, can negatively impact long-term health. Poor gut health can be implicated in driving obesity, among other problems***, which makes it crucial to get right during weaning. In our survey, 40.5% of parents answered that they used pre-packaged baby foods in the first week of starting solid food.

“BioGaia recognise how important microbiota development is to all ages, especially in the first 3 years. Our extensive research has shown that a good microbiome is an essential part of long-term health and needs to be a priority for parents who are beginning their weaning journey.” – Steven Hicks, UK Director at BioGaia

With renowned Paediatric Dietitian Lucy Upton, The Gut Stuff’s and Channel 4’s own Mac Twins, and prominent probiotic supplier BioGaia on board, the job of Weaning Week 2024 is to debunk myths on pre-packaged processed weaning foods and showcase healthier alternatives and the science behind them can be implicated in driving high rates of overweight and obesity

Notes to editors

This year’s National Weaning Week takes place from 13-17 May 2024, teaming up with BioGaia and The Gut Stuff to share top tips, advice and recipes with parents with weaning-age babies. This year, gut health is at the forefront of the conversation, with the theme “Wean Wise Gut Thrive” empowering parents to make great decisions with weaning babies, as well as provide information on healthier alternatives to pre-packaged processed foods.

660 parents participated in the survey, of these we gained the following insights;

78.4% – Used pre-packaged baby foods within the first 6-12 months of weaning.
68.8% – Of parents who viewing an image of a baby pouch meal believed it would be healthy.
44.8% – Parents believed that pre-packaged baby food was either Natural or Unprocessed.
40.5% – Parents used pre-packaged baby foods in the first week of weaning.
33.3% – Used pre-packaged baby foods as their baby’s first ever meal.

BioGaia is the world’s only research-driven probiotics provider, with decades of experience and research in their products.

The Gut Stuff is headed up by the Mac Twins who bring huge influence and attention to the topics of good gut health, well-known for presenting Channel 4’s “Know Your Sh!t”. Lisa McFarlane from the Mac Twins said “we are really happy to support this campaign. There’s so much attention on adult gut health that we need to start ensuring we get this right in the first 3 years of life too.”

Lastly, renowned Paediatric Dietician Lucy Upton rounds out Weaning Week’s amazing team and is available for interviews.

‘Empower parents with the knowledge and confidence that will instil positive feeding, diet and nutrition foundations for life’

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