Optimal nutrition in early childhood fosters growth and development whilst preventing morbidity and mortality in later life. There is little research in New Zealand on commercially available complementary foods (CACFs). This cross-sectional study of the nutritional aspects and packaging of CACFs used data collected in four major supermarket chains in New Zealand in 2019 (Nutritrack). Of the 197 CACFs analysed, 43 (21.8%) were inappropriately recommended for consumption by children four months of age or older, 10 (5.1%) had added salt, and 67 (34.0%) contained free sugars. The majority (n
= 136, 69.0%) contained ingredients with a sweet flavour. Relatively sweet vegetables like carrot and sweetcorn were used more often than bitter vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. The described texture of most (n
= 145, 62.1%) wet ‘spoonable’ products was of the lowest complexity (smooth, puréed, custard). CACFs would adequately expose children to cow’s milk and wheat but not to other common food allergens (cooked hen’s egg, soy, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanut, and tree-nuts). If children’s diets include CACFs, non-commercial meals must be offered as well in order to meet nutritional guidelines related to the introduction of common food allergens, diversity of flavours, and complex textures for infants and toddlers.
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