A study has found that many popular brands contain less than a fifth of the recommended daily supply of calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron.
Researchers from the University of Greenwich analysed the nutritional content of eight popular baby foods given to children aged six to 12 months old.
They claim the shortfall in nutrients means children are not only being deprived of nutrients needed for growth but also to protect against illness when they grow up.
Dr Nazanin Zand is the lead author of the study, which is published in the journal Food Chemistry
He said: ‘These babies are have limited capacity to eat therefore it is crucial that their foods are as nutrient dense as possible.
‘The government has focused on the importance of breastfeeding and the health of school meals but they have neglected baby foods given in between.’
The team analysed the amount of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium, potassium and sodium, along with other key minerals, using a specialised machine called a Inductivity Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometer.
The study found meat-based jars contained on average 3% of the recommended daily supply of calcium, while the vegetable-based types provided 7% of zinc and 6% of iron.
The researchers estimate that infants given one meat jar and one vegetable jar, on top of 600ml of formula milk, would not be getting enough calcium, magnesium, copper and selenium.