Dear Is This Normal,
Can you give me some advice about pouches? My little one just started solids and I’m curious whether or not it’s ok for me to give her pouches during her mealtimes. As far as I can tell, it’s the same food (ingredients and texture), so is the pouch just a different type of container or are there certain rules about using them?
Ah, yes. The joys of decoding how to feed your baby! It seems like such a simple thing, but having been through it twice, I can attest to the fact that it is anything but simple and straightforward. And you know what? I love this question and starting the conversation around how/when/what to feed babes who are just starting on solids. Because I promise you, you are not the only parent who’s curious about this. And the more we know, the more knowledge we can share with other parents out there. So when is it ok to use baby food pouches? Let’s talk about it.
So what’s the deal with baby food pouches? You’re right in that a lot of them are similar to jarred baby foods in terms of ingredients or texture. Nutritionally, many of the more popular pouch purees are right up there with jarred—in fact, many companies offer both options to their customers. So seeing as how there are a lot of similarities between the two vessels, surely they must be interchangeable, right? Mmmmm, not exactly. Pouches ARE a great and convenient option, but there are definitely some things to keep in mind when using them (and with baby food in general—but more on that here.)
When you start your younger baby on solids, you’re not just introducing them to foods and trying to expand their palate and slowly wean them off early infanthood nutrition like formula and breastmilk. These are all obviously very important parts of the starting solids journey, but there’s also an equally important key part of that particular milestone that pouches (used as a pouch) can’t help with: the development of good eating habits and motor coordination. Spoon feeding, pincer-grasping, reaching, grabbing—these are all super important pieces of your child’s developmental puzzle, and these are all skills that are honed early on in their solids journey. This is the fun (and often messy) part of eating, and relying on baby food pouches can lead to these skills being slower to develop. See, eating directly from the pouch requires a sucking motion, which your baby is already an expert in thanks to bottle/breastfeeding; sucking helps develop a front to back tongue motion, whereas spoon feeding and chewing (real or simulated) encourages a side to side tongue motion which is necessary for eating and speaking later in life.
Additionally, because of the design of baby food pouches and the small spout which the food comes through, you’re not going to get a wide array of textures in those purees. While the thickness can indeed vary a bit, there won’t be lumps or small pieces of soft food, which help with the development of self-feeding skills. And introducing more variety in texture early on has shown to help kids develop more adventurous palates—which could help you avoid (or at least minimize) a picky eating stage as they get older.
You might be wondering after reading this far: so when CAN you use pouches? And the good news is—you can use them throughout your little one’s solids journey! Just with a few caveats. If your babe is just getting started on purees, you can use pouches as a companion to spoon feeding; simply squeeze the puree into a bowl or onto a spoon bite-by-bite so they don’t miss out on that valuable skill development that comes with that particular milestone.
As your babe gets older and has mastered spoon feeding and is moving into self-feeding, baby food pouches are a great on-the-go option to use in moderation. It’s always nice to have an easy, delicious, and nutritious snack tucked into the diaper bag for when your kid is on the verge of a meltdown. Same goes for toddlers (and even older kiddos): I love the idea of pouches as an easy and convenient snack to have on-hand—one that requires little assistance from you and won’t result in a big clean-up. My own kids still enjoy a ‘squeezy snack’ from time to time, and they’re getting to the ages where they can literally cook their own meals. Pouches can be our friends, parents.
Is This Normal