Fruit squeeze, puree pouches, food bags with a spout – if you have had a child in the last couple of years you will know exactly what I am talking about and you will know that this type of baby/toddler food is quickly outnumbering food jars on the shelves.
Yep, sales of these ‘purees in a squeezy’ are on the rise and only due to popular demand. Convenient, mess-free, and healthy makes them sound like the perfect solution for busy parents but in the long run are they really all they’re cracked up to be? In regards to nutrition, an apple-banana pouch is going to be healthier than say an ice-block but don’t let the convenience lull you into a false sense of security. From the age of four to six months, we begin the process of learning to eat. This has many aspects from chewing different textures to experiencing new tastes which improves with each repeated exposure.
Once babies begin weaning it’s all about getting the hang of how to move their mouth and jaw muscles and accept food from a spoon. Learning to eat also builds up your baby’s oral muscles for speaking and they’ll need these for getting the hang of bigger pieces of food later on down the track. If you make the mistake of not challenging your babies jaw muscles with lumpy foods and different textures from about the age of nine months then other issues could arise.
So, although you might think a puree squeezy is as good as the real thing, it’s probably not. Imagine this scenario; your toddler is getting use to and enjoying their fruit pouch each day, but the moment a piece of food that takes skill like a crunchy apple piece or a strawberry with ‘bits’ is offered it will be foreign and rejected. Their jaws will be lazy, textures will not be welcome and the simple process of taking food to their mouth will be unknown. Not a lifelong skill we really want to be passing on to our children!
If you look at the ingredients of the pouches, a lot of the time vegetables are teamed with a fruit to add a sweetness to the experience or mixed with other vegetables. I really think we should be teaching our children separate tastes without the sweetness and accepting a fruit or vegetable for what it is.
Sure, I always have a few squeezies stashed in the cupboard for emergencies, they are great when you are out of fruit at the end of the week or travelling but ultimately, they are seen as an occasional treat only.
So, let’s not get caught up in the habit of nurturing a generation of lazy eaters, or dare I say it, lazy parenting. Surely we are never too busy to provide good nutrition to our children the way it should be; naturally.