With busy schedules it becomes more and more difficult to manage our lives, including finding healthy feeding options for our kids to enjoy.
Who doesn’t love the easy to grab food pouches filled with fruits or vegetables? Not only are they easy to pick up and provide a quick easy snack for families that are on the go, they are also less messy than other options. While food pouches seem like a good choice, you may be depriving your children of opportunities to develop good, healthy feeding and fine motor skills.
First, let’s look at the nutritional value in these food choices. Labels, as with other foods can be misleading. So, while it seems they may be packed with good stuff we don’t always know how much of that good stuff a pouch actually contains. Not only do we not know how much of those nutritious foods we were hoping for are in the pouches we tend to overlook how much sugar they contain.
A typical 4oz. pouch of applesauce contains 12 grams of sugar. That isn’t much different than a 6oz. cup of applesauce that contains 16 grams of sugar. What it does speak to is the amount of sugar a child is getting with just one pouch of what appears to be a healthy snack.
While fresh fruit itself contains sugar, it is not as high as these little processed goodies we are grabbing quickly to feed our kids – a half cup of sliced apples contains only 6 grams of sugar. We also are all too often fooled into thinking the health food stores will do it better, but a 4oz pouch of Sprouts Smoothies for Toddlers contains 13 grams of sugar. It’s also hard to know exactly how much fruit and vegetables those pouches actually contain.
Overuse of food pouches to supplement your child’s diet can be detrimental to developing healthy feeding and motor skills. Use of pouches reinforces a suckle response which does not support healthy development of oral motor skills required for chewing and swallowing. With pouches being sweeter we are further setting children up to avoid the textures and tastes of other foods at an early age.
Their palates and taste preferences are going to crave sweetness. Use of pouches for eating can also inhibit the development of fine motor skills such as a pincer grasp developed when self-feeding finger foods, or motor grasping skills developed with the use of a spoon or fork.
While use of food pouches, like other things, can be a great option to keep on hand for your kids, they should be used as a supplement on occasion vs. being considered a primary source of nutrition for your kids. Consider introducing fresh fruits, veggies or yogurt in a container, rather than a pouch to be sucked on. A healthy approach is to consider them as easy to travel with if heading to after-school activities or sport practices/events with older children and needing to have options on hand. This however is just one food option. Food pouches should not be considered a meal replacement or a regular daily inclusion in lunches.
Additionally, it is important to note meals and snacks should be completed when sitting down to eat, rather than walking around with things in our hands such as food pouches, to support appropriate, healthy feeding and motor skills throughout a child’s day.To explore how we can start working together, call Greater Learning LP at 210.349.1415, Live Chat Our Team, or contact us to start working with a passionate provider.