Are food pouches okay for toddlers? Find out in this week’s “Ask Amanda,” column. Ask Amanda is our weekly virtual Q and A forum brought to you by Feed to Succeed’s expert Northshore dietitian Amanda Gordon.
Q: Hi Amanda – what are your thoughts on food pouches for toddlers? A lot of the products in stores now seem to have lots of healthy ingredients. Are they a good option for my toddler?
A: If your toddler is like most I know, getting enough fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. Food pouches can be enticing. Kale, spinach, quinoa – all sound like ingredients we would love our toddlers to eat!
Pouches can be a good “go to” when we don’t have time to prepare whole foods or whole food purees. Most are made from fruits and vegetables, and some have added grains. Pouches can be a good alternative to crackers, cookies, or other snacks. However, because they are processed, they are missing much of the fiber and other vitamins and minerals that toddlers get when they eat whole or mashed fruits and vegetables that haven’t been processed.
There are also other feeding concerns related to pouches, beyond just nutrition considerations. According to Ellie Trefz, a Speech Language Pathologist and Feeding Therapist, “While pouches are an easy food for on-the-go, they can easily become a crutch. It’s important to let your toddler learn to use a spoon, both for self-feeding skills, as well as for oral motor development.”
Ellie suggests emptying pouches into a bowl or using the spoon attachment so that your child develops spoon skills. If you do use pouches, allow your child to suck the pouch independently to learn beginning straw skills instead of squeezing the pouch into your toddler’s mouth.
This “Ask Amanda” was co-authored by Ellie Trefz, M.S. CCC-SLP/CLS. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.