What a Dietitian-Mom Has to Say About Baby Food Pouches
Updated: Jun 20
The popular baby pouches, introduced about a decade ago, now account for 25 percent of baby food sales in the United States, according to Nielsen's Total Food View. Prior to pouches, baby food jars were really the main option parents had for pureed foods. It’s not surprising that they are so popular, they’re so convenient - you can simply pop a pouch in your changing bag and off you go.
According to customer surveys, about 72 percent of 4-9 month old babies have store-bought baby food as part of their complementary diet. So it’s important to get clear on how to include baby food pouches in a balanced way into your little one’s diet. In this post I want to share my opinion as a feeding expert and a mama on the use of pouches for babies and toddlers and give you practical guidelines on how to use them, if you choose to do so.
Let’s start by talking about what I LIKE about pouches...
The Pros of Baby Food Pouches
They’re convenient: Parents tell me all the time that the number one reason they use pouches is CONVENIENCE. And you know what?! I Get it! Just like any other modern family, we are busy! And pouches are incredibly convenient. Nothing gets more convenient than a meal or snack in a bag that doesn’t require heating, prep, or washing dishes.
They promote self-feeding: Compared to baby food jars, pouches encourage independence in feeding. With a pouch, babies can feed themselves at a very early age, sometimes as early as 6 months. Off course, and even better, self-feeding can be encouraged by offering baby finger foods as well.
They help practicing the use of a straw: Sucking from a straw, which doctors don’t expect babies to do until at least 9 months old, is something that can improve how a child eats. I have found that offering a pouch here and there to my little ones have helped them to learn how to drink from a straw quicker.
They can give mama a much needed break: Studies show that even in households where the mom is the primary breadwinner, the burden of meal planning and cooking still falls on her. I’m a mama too, and I know that keeping our little humans well fed and happy is HARD work. Not that you need to, but you have my permission to take a break and hand your little one a baby food pouch.
They can be eaten on the run: I’m a strong advocate for mindful eating, and I do encourage parents to have their kiddos sit down and have actual table foods most of the time. However, I think that at some point our child will end up eating on the run - like during a road trip or a long flight. And giving a puree while moving is safer than giving table food that can be more easily choked.
They are loved by kids: Baby food pouches are fun for kids, and combined with the fact that they can feed themselves, I suspect it’s why we see some kids not wanting to give them up.
However….there is the downside to most things in life, and so here is what I DON’T LIKE about food pouches…
Cons of Baby Food Pouches
Their labels can be misleading: Even though the front label may say that the product has ingredients like kale and quinoa, the ingredient list (the small print next to the nutritional information on the back) will start with a cheaper component such as apple, pear, or carrot puree in most cases. These purees usually provide the bulk of the pouch's contents. How much quinoa or kale is in there? No one knows, since the manufacturers are not required to disclose the percentages. Not that purees aren't nutritious, but your child will get more nutrients by eating the actual fruit and vegetable.