“Are baby food pouches bad for kids?”…….
CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times
I had a parent ask me that exact question this week! As a pediatric dentist, dietary questions and counseling are an important part of my job. The food, beverage and snack choices we feed our children (and ourselves) on a daily basis directly effect how likely we all are to develop cavities.
So what is the answer?
I can tell you one thing for sure, baby food pouches are here to stay. They are growing in popularity and they “now account for 25% of baby food sales in the United States.” On-the-go options for infants and toddlers can be quite limited and food pouches are now available in so much more than just baby food. Now you can get smoothies, apple sauce and even yogurt in these handy food pouches.
The New York Times Talks Food Pouches….
The New York Times addressed this topic in an article that was published on June 19, 2018 “Rethinking Baby Food Pouches.”
Here is our takeaway on Baby Food Pouches………
- Good source of nutrition with fruits and veggies in most food pouches
- Convenient, Non-perishable
- Easy for kids to eat without requiring assistance
- Kids love them
- Can cause delays in feeding and oral development from children not having to chew and swallow their food
“Babies are born with the ability to drink. Eating from pouches is more like drinking and does not develop the shift to chewing.
- Easier to overeat and consume excess calories
- Children are not getting the taste and texture of real foods when everything is pureed and mixed together
- The sweet ingredients overpower the rest of the ingredients and make a child accustomed to expecting sweet snacks
- Individual packaging is not environmentally conscious in terms of the amount of waste
- Can cause cavities because of the high sugar content and their contact with a child’s teeth. The physical act of chewing food helps naturally cleanse your teeth from the texture of the foods. Biting into an apple for example, naturally cleans the teeth as you take each bite.
- Give your children whole fruits and vegetables as often as possible so they will experience the different flavors and textures of a variety of foods
- Use pouches when you are on the go and do not have access to real, whole foods
- Read your labels and make sure to look for pouches with “no sugar added”
- Have your child drink water after they have a food pouch to rinse the teeth off and naturally remove some of the sugar on the teeth and lingering in their mouth.
The Bottom Line……
Everything in moderation…….. Baby food pouches are not meant to be used as a replacement for real, whole foods. With that said, they do have a time and a place and they are a great option as long as they are not overused. Food pouches definitely provide a quick, convenient and much healthier alternative as an on-the-go snack compared to goldfish, gummy snacks or some of the other highly processed non-perishable kid friendly foods.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about your child’s diet and how it effects their health. We are here to help!
Dr. Brittany has a Bachelors Degree in Food Science & Human Nutrition from the University of Florida. She applies her background in nutrition to help her patients make healthy choices for their overall wellness and for their teeth.
“Healthy teeth are happy teeth,.” -Dr. Brittany