Friday, October 31, 2014

Baby food pouches: Are they truly harmless?

Baby food pouches: Are they truly harmless?

Baby food pouches are the new rant and rave with moms of babies and toddlers. Pouches make it simple for babies to eat on the go since they are quick and really convenient.  Should they be the new fad that all parents have, or do they eventually add to tooth and feeding problems?

Super convenient
Baby food pouches are made by many companies and are often filled with organic baby food recipes, which babies can suck out through the opening, much like they could a drink through a straw. They are handier than a jar of food that needs to be spoon-fed, and they can help teach a baby to feed herself.

Besides pre-filled pouches, there are also companies selling reusable baby food pouches.  Parents purchase the reusable food pouches and then fill them with their own wholesome baby food.  Purchasing and reusing the pouches helps parents save a ton of money compared to purchasing disposable pouches.  You can pack up a few pouches filled with homemade baby food for your babies or applesauce for your toddler and go out for the day without worrying about how to pack spoons.

What’s the worry?

However, some worry that baby food pouches will be overused, much like juice can be. We spoke with Deborah Michael, mom of five and pediatric occupational therapist, who is the founder of North Shore Pediatric Therapy, and Meghan Grant, mother of two, who is a pediatric speech therapist. They said that like many of the decisions we as parents make for our kids, moderation is key. “A recent statement from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry warns parents of the possible side effects to prolonged usage of baby food pouches,” Grant explained. “They compare the squeeze pouches to that of giving babies juice in sippy cups and bottles, and indicate that tooth decay may develop if babies are given frequent access to the pouches.”

Although there’s no proven connection, people worry about baby food pouches because they are said to possibly lead to a breakdown of tooth enamel if the child’s teeth are not brushed twice a day. Whether you decide to offer your child baby food pouches or not, brush her teeth at least two times daily, and aim to restrict fruit juice consumption.

Developmental and social issues

The method of the baby eating baby food from a pouch is comparable to drinking from a straw. Does a baby benefit from spoon-feeding as opposed to sucking pureed food from a baby food pouch? “Feeding your child from a spoon not only contributes to functional oral motor development, but increases the social aspects of mealtimes,” said Michael. “Parents are able to connect with their children during meals, and if children are allowed access to constant drinking from the pouches, they are missing out on opportunities to practice developmental feeding skills when fed via spoon.”

The bottom line

Parents should not steer clear of baby food pouches, but limiting their use is still a good idea. Make sure to brush your child’s teeth at least two times daily and sustain parent-child contact such as eye contact and talking during meals as often as you can. Keep in mind that independent feeding is the main target and baby food pouches can work in your baby’s favor. Baby food pouches don’t always have to be fed straight from the pouch; you can actually squeeze the food out into a bowl for spoon-feeding. Being fed from a spoon helps your baby develop correct swallowing techniques, Modern parents have tons of options for feeding their babies, and baby food pouches seem to be the most convenient

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