We’ve all seen them…everywhere…pouches of pureed baby food line the shelves of our grocery stores and local Targets. Advertising that they contain all of the vegetables and vitamins your child needs, these pouches seem like the sensible, go-to product to purchase for your infant that is beginning to transition to solids. And while these items are great for emergencies, I would encourage them to be used sparingly.
Why, you ask? Well, I’ll give you my reasoning…
- Typically these pouches are sweetened either with sugar or with fruit and fruit juice. While your child may be ‘eating’ spinach, they are really tasting the apple that it is combined with. This doesn’t really teach a child what foods actually feel like and taste like. So even though he loves his spinach in the pouch he may end up throwing it on the floor (as we know most children will do with many foods ☺) because it doesn’t taste or feel the way he’s used to eating spinach.
- Pouches can lead to picky eaters. Pouches teach children to prefer sweet, smooth, liquidy food. They fail to challenge the stage of feeding and oral motor development that is required to chew other textures. More complex foods encourage the tongue to move from side to side and develop the muscles in the oral cavity needed to fully chew and swallow food. Eating from pouches is more like drinking then chewing.
- This lack of oral development can also impact speech development because the muscles used to assist your child in properly creating clear sounds are underdeveloped.
- Many times when a child is tantruming or acting up, a parent will hand a pouch to a child to calm them down. This can lead to a negative learned behavior of associating sweet snack with calming down. Snacking then becomes an activity used to serve emotional needs rather than physiological ones.
- Pouches don’t promote any self-feeding development such as pincer grasp or using utensils.
So am I telling you that you’re a bad parent if your give your kid a pouch? Of course not. We all have to do what we have to do.
If you do give your child a pouch:
- Try squeezing the contents into a bowl or directly onto a spoon and allow your child to self-feed.
- Purchase the pouches with single ingredients such as apples, bananas or mangoes. Most single item pouches contain fruits.
They’re great items to stash in your diaper bag or car in case of a nutritional emergency or for travel. Remember you can also pack finger foods such as Cheerios or Puffs in case of emergency. I would try to stay away from giving them to your child on a daily basis, especially when you are at home. That is the time to offer your child an array of textures and flavors to begin to develop their palate.