We want to shine a light on baby food pouches for today's post. We've seen a huge rise in the use of these pouches for weaning tots in recent years with big players in the market such as Ella's Kitchen, Heinz and HiPP having ranges suitable for tots from 4 months old.
So what are the pros.....
- Kids love them! They are addictive.
- The pouches are a convenient option for parents on the go. There is no preparation required, little mess and no need to heat or refrigerate, they are literally ready to serve anywhere, anytime.
- The pouches provide fruit and vegetable servings for little ones, which might otherwise be absent in their diets.
- The pouches are marketed as 'natural' and 'organic' which allows parents to feel good about the contents inside.
- Their preparation is regulated, the best pouches only contain fruits and veggies with no nasties.
Things to consider.....
- Children learn about food by seeing it, touching it, smelling it. These pouches take the sensory experience away from them. They also don't make associations between the food they are eating and the foods in their whole form.
- Foods are masked by other foods, for example a pouch may contain spinach but its taste is masked with a sweet fruit. In addition the child doesn't see what it looks like, so how do they learn to like it? Children need to taste and see individual foods to come to like them later in life.
- Pouches encourage children to suck, not chew. Eating is a learning experience and sucking their food can hinder the development of their fine motor skills. In addition the chewing and swallowing process is a critical part in developing speech, something pouches don't encourage.
- Children who become too used to pureed foods can become picky when they move onto solids later in their childhood.
- Pouches can be higher in sugar than the real fruits and vegetables and are lower in fibre which is needed to give children a 'full' feeling. This can lead to overeating.
- Sweet pouches can effect children's teeth as the puree sits on them increasing the risk of cavities and dental issues.
What can parents do......
- Try to use pouches for travel only, not daily, when sitting down is not possible.
- If using a pouch, transfer the contents to a bowl and offer a spoon, don't simply let tots suck from the pouch.
- If possible set routine so children are in their home environment at mealtimes and eat around a table. Sit with your child whilst they eat, mealtimes should be social.
- If you're out during the day take home-prepared foods that can be enjoyed cold e.g. pasta salad, cous cous with veg, quiche, sandwiches and vegetable sticks.