Rethinking Baby Food Pouches
Pouches of puréed baby food have become a staple in any diaper bag but some experts warn that babies and toddlers who use them too much can miss out on the developmental skills that will contribute to healthy eating habits, according to the New York Times.
Pouches, introduced about a decade ago, now account for a quarter of baby food sales in the United States, according to Nielsen's Total Food View. But healthcare professionals say that relying on them too much can be a gateway to bad long-term snacking habits and routine overeating.
Due to the smooth texture of the purees in pouches, children may not be challenged at a crucial stage of feeding and oral development — when they are learning to chew and swallow soft foods, which helps with speech, and when they need varied and multi-sensory experiences – seeing, touching and smelling the food they are eating – which helps develop a broad palate later on.
Also, with the primary ingredient in most pouches being a sweet food like apples or pears, children get used to a masked, sweetened taste of vegetables like spinach or broccoli often leaving them unwilling to eat the real thing.
Dr. Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics told the New York Times that pouches are “less good” than home made foods in the long run. “Kids need the taste of what the actual food is to come to like it later,” she said.
While pouches are convenient and a good option as an emergency, experts insist on using them sparingly. Kara Larson, a speech-language pathologist and feeding specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, said: “If you’re just given four to five pouches a day to just suck out of there, you may not be developing the other feeding skills that you need to.”