Baby food. It used to be just that. Simple food, made at home, that is safe and nutritious for a baby to eat.
Commercial baby food emerged in the early to mid-1900’s as a convenience, and has grown to an industry estimated at over $55 Billion. When pouches of baby food first emerged in the US market approximately 12 years ago, it was what we now refer to as a “disruptor” to the entire industry. Offering convenience, lots of variety, at a low cost – what else could a new parent ask for? Many meltdowns were resolved by just twisting the cap of that nifty little pouch of yummy goodness.
In the years since its introduction, global baby food pouch sales have grown astronomically. So has the related waste, the list of nutritional questions, the concerns regarding dental health, and infant & toddler development. There is an abundance of research from around the globe focusing on the introduction of complementary foods with pouches versus other packaging options.
Let’s start with the nutritional content – what is your baby eating from that pouch that makes it so delicious? SUGAR. In a study published in the journal Nutrition Today, the authors found that pouched food contained more sugar and more calories from sugar than jarred packaging. Of the 548 infant and toddler foods which contained vegetables available on the US market, 50% were in pouches, and a majority of those were mixed with fruit rather than a vegetable alone. The authors point out that many of the studies of infant and toddler food have found a significant lack of dark, green, leafy vegetables available on their own. How can a parent expect their 6 year old to eat plain broccoli or spinach if they had only ever eaten it mixed with apples or blueberries?
Eating is a sensory experience. Infants learn about food by seeing it, smelling it, mushing it in their hands and waving a spoonful of it around in the air. They learn how to take food off a spoon or from their pincer grasp and move it with their tongue to the back of their mouth in order to swallow.
Pouches remove all of those important experiences. Eating from a pouch can be a similar experience to breastfeeding. A developing infant needs to understand that all food isn’t smooth and delivered from something shaped like a nipple. While some Speech Pathologists and Pediatric Feeding Therapists have noted anecdotal evidence of a relationship between delayed spoon feeding, picky eating, or speech problems. Eating is a complex task, one to be learned and enjoyed for a lifetime.
In our busy lives, convenience plays an important role. A pouch every once in a while is absolutely fine and will not harm your infant. But for the majority of your infants meals – other than breastmilk or formula – the feeding experience should be messy, and delicious, and full of a variety of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and different flavors.
Here at Seedlings, we believe in baby food and we believe in you and your babies! Our locally sourced, responsibly grown and packaged nutrition is what your child needs to develop into strong, healthy, and happy kids. If you have any questions for Dr. Lefner on what your baby needs to thrive, please reach out to us!