BENEFITS OF EATING FROM A SPOON
Blog by Katie Thomson, MS, RD -- co-founder of Square Baby
A decade ago, there would be no need for this blog. Because nearly ALL babies learned to eat from a spoon. And that’s a good thing! Eating from a spoon helps babies develop the proper motor skills and good eating habits that will set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, pouches have begun to replace spoons in many mealtime occasions. And while pouches aren’t all bad (they are convenient on-the-go snacks and can be helpful if your kiddo has specific medical issues like food texture aversions and sensory issues), there are concerns about how pouches are affecting the overall health and development of our next generation.
You may have noticed that nearly all pouches are overly sweet. Often times there is just a sprinkling of veggies and a hefty dose of inexpensive, sweet fillers like apple and pear. Over time they’ve become more of a sugary pacifier than of a balanced meal.
This wasn’t the way I wanted to introduce solids to my baby. This wasn’t the experience nor the nutrition I’d hoped for from a baby food company. I knew pouches weren’t helping with the crucial motor development skills my baby needed and they weren’t creating a healthy relationship with food that I knew was so important in these early months. THIS is why it was a non-negotiable that Square Baby food would never be in a pouch.
Why is it so important that baby learn to eat from a spoon and not suck from a pouch?
Let’s dig in...
Benefits of learning to eat from a spoon:
- Baby develops proper motor development skills like hand-eye and hand-mouth coordination as well as taking food from the spoon, moving it to the back of the mouth, chewing, and swallowing.
- Baby develops a healthy relationship with food. “It is important for your baby to get used to the process of eating—sitting up, taking food from a spoon, resting between bites, and stopping when full. These early experiences will help your child learn good eating habits throughout life.” - Academy of Pediatrics
- Eating from a spoon encourages healthy mealtime habits with the family like sitting at the table, talking and making eye contact during a meal. This ritual helps babies develop their social and language skills.
- Spoon-feeding embraces sensory development. Baby can see, smell, and touch the food. Such an important part of creating a positive relationship with food.
- Spoon-fed meals offer opportunities for various textures (smooth, chunky, thin, thick) to broaden their palate and ready them for table foods.
Downsides of sucking from a pouch:
- Babies miss the opportunity for proper motor development skills. Thanks to breast and bottle feeding, babies already have the “sucking” skill down pat. They need to learn how to take food from a spoon, move it to the back of their mouth, chew and swallow. Skipping or delaying spoon-feeding skills can lead to chewing, swallowing and speech issues down the road.
- Sucking from a pouch can pose risks to speech development. When babies miss the opportunity to learn to spoon-feed, it can translate to speech issues in the future.
- Pouch feeding can override the baby's innate physiologic eating cues --increasing their risk of overeating.
- Pouches do not foster a healthy relationship with food. If your baby is learning to eat from a pouch, they could be missing out on this special time to develop good habits of eating from a spoon and seeing/touching their food.
- Pouches generally offer one texture: applesauce-like. Babies need to have a variety of textures to properly develop their palate.
- Your child can actually miss the window of opportunity to learn to self-feed and successfully handle various textures of solids. In fact, studies indicate that the late introduction of chunky food has been associated with feeding problems in the future.
- Choking can occur if baby/toddler sucks puree into lungs.
As with anything: moderation is key. We're moms -- we totally get it! Pouches are super-convenient. Parents are beyond busy and don't always have the time to sit down for a meal at the table. And babies love the super-sweet taste of pouches, which is pretty tempting. But we encourage you to think beyond the pouch about what your baby needs on a daily basis -- for optimal nutrition as well as their growth, motor, speech, and social development.
Check out Square Baby -- our meals made fresh in small batches, quickly frozen to lock in nutrients, and delivered right to your door.
And...they're packaged in a recyclable, BPA-free container -- perfect for dipping a spoon into!
- Rethinking Baby Food Pouches - NY Times
- The Downsides of Baby Food Pouches and How to Use Them Right -- Parents.com
- Why You Should Stop Feeding Your Baby From Trendy Little Food Pouches – Huffington Post
- The Great Pouch Debate - Pros, Cons, and Compromising -- ASHA.org
- Infant Food & Feeding -- AAP.org
- Oh Baby: Squeezable Snacks Might Be Tough on Teeth – NPR.org
- Pitch the Pouch? Why You Might Want to Limit Pouch Feeding for Your Infant – Bundoo.com
- Baby-Food Pouches May Pose Risks for Development, Health if Overused -- Cleveland.com
- Why I Wouldn’t Recommend Baby Food Pouches by Dr. Dina Kulik – Huffington Post
- Baby Food Pouches: Are They Really Harmless? – SheKnows.com
- You're Probably Feeding Your Kids Too Many Food Pouches, Say Pediatricians - Goodhousekeeping.com
This blog post is for information purposes only and shouldn’t be used as personal, health, nutritional, or medical advice. Always consult with your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child's health or readiness for various foods.