Food pouches make eating on the go easy for kids. But are they a healthy choice?
“Pouches are convenient, and they contain fruits and vegetables, which is wonderful,” says Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, MHS, RDN, LD, FADA, a Washington University registered pediatric dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “They’re a great option when you’re on a long trip, too. Most don’t have to be refrigerated.”
But sometimes convenience comes at a cost. Pureed fruits and vegetables are lower in fiber than whole foods, Tanner-Blasiar cautions. Some pouches have too much sugar. Added sugar can make it harder for kids to like vegetables in their whole form.
“You also want kids to see and smell their food,” she says. “They can’t always do that with a pouch.”
“Every now and then, food pouches are fine,” Tanner-Blasiar says. “Just don’t use them as a child’s main form of nutrition.”
When parents do use them, she suggests they:
- Read labels to avoid too much sugar.
- Keep an eye on size. Some pouches have more food than a child needs.
- Don’t let an open pouch sit out for too long. Throw it away or put it in the fridge if your child didn’t eat it all.
“It’s important to feed your child from a spoon or bowl, or let them feed themselves, as much as you can,” Tanner-Blasiar says. “Babies learn motor skills when they touch and hold food. Holding a pouch doesn’t teach them hand-eye coordination.”