However I’ve seen yogurt, cereals and even meat (eww?!?) available for squeezing. I’m going to keep my thoughts to the fruit/veggie puree pouches because these seem to be the most popular variety – and potentially the most useful for parents. While they are primarily marketed to new eaters (babies ~6 months old), many moms buy pouches for their older kids simply for convenience sake. Just like many other moms, I do buy squeeze pouches for Aidan however I have mixed feelings about the squeezable variety of fruits and veggies.
I’ve found several benefits to squeeze pouches. First, my boys absolutely love them. They will eat (or suck down) pretty much anything that comes packaged in squeeze pouch form. From rutabagas to beets, they happily squeezes away without uttering a single complaint. My oldest Aidan (who is also my pickiest eater), will eat broccoli from a squeeze pouch but won’t try the actual veggie if its sitting on a plate in front of him (this is also a negative to pouch eating….see below). Second, they are portable and easy to use. Squeeze pouches require no refrigeration until opened so they are easily stored in cabinets, back packs, diaper bags, etc. They are also a great option for daycare lunches, road trips or any outing where you don’t want to worry about spoilage. Another benefit is the quality ingredients used. Pouches by some of my favorite makers (Ella’s Kitchen, Happy Baby/Tot, Plum Organics, Earth’s Best and others) contain organic ingredients and contain the fruit/veggie ingredients and nothing else (you may notice the addition of lemon juice in many pouches which is used as a natural preservative). In a world of pre-packaged crap, you can feel pretty good about the nutrition provided in pouches by these makers. This isn’t always a given with all pouches though – make sure you are still reading the labels because some brands include preservatives and non-organic produce.
So what’s not to love about fruit and veggie squeeze pouches? Well, like I said, I have mixed emotions. While I do love that my boys can be counted on to eat their fruits/veggies from a pouch, this doesn’t mean they are learning to like veggies in their true form (they both do fine with fruits!). The truth is that most squeeze pouch veggies are mixed with fruits in order to sweeten their taste. Kids tend to like sweeter better anyways, so learning to love broccoli mixed with apples is not quite the same as learning to like broccoli by itself. Not to mention that if kids only eat fruit/veggies from pouches, they could arguably never know what the food they are sucking down actually looks like which is sad. Ok, ok. So maybe I’m being a bit too picky but something about eating veggies from a package without gaining an appreciation for the actual taste and texture of the food bothers me. Now that my baby, Brennan, is old enough to have table foods and doesn’t have to rely on purees only, it is important to me that he begin to experience whole foods in their natural form. Broccoli may be an acquired taste but at least it’s one that he will be exposed to regularly (and not always mixed with something sweet).
Like I said, I’m conflicted. For now I’ve resigned myself to using pouches (I can’t give up a fail-proof source of veggies) while still making sure that they both get exposure to whole fruits and vegetables just as frequently. I think that as long as you incorporate both and never stop exposing your child to foods he or she may not readily accept, you are covering your nutritional bases.
Editor's Note: Author Honest Mom Nutrition, is dedicated to helping today's moms navigate the ever-changing world of nutrition. The site features expert advice & real-life tips from registered dietitians ranging from making your own baby food to mommy weight loss and everything in between.