Scientific Benefits of Learning to Eat from a Spoon

Author Image Katie Thomson MS, RD | Cofounder

Let's dig into the scientific benefits of learning to eat from a spoon.

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 has many benefits. It helps babies develop the proper motor skills and good eating habits that will set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

baby food puree made by square baby

However, 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. 

Our dietitian & CEO's personal experience with pouches

You may have noticed that many pouches are overly sweet and fruit-heavy. Often times there is just a sprinkling of veggies and a hefty dose of sweet, concentrated fruits like apple, pear, and banana. Over time they’ve become more of a sugary pacifier or treat than a balanced meal.

"While pouches certainly had their place in our household as a convenient treat for our toddler, this wasn’t the way I wanted to introduce solids to my baby.  This wasn’t the feeding experience nor the nutrition I’d hoped for from a baby food company. I knew pouches weren’t as helpful with the crucial motor development skills my baby needed and they weren’t creating the healthy relationship with food that I knew was so important in these early months of introducing solids. I wanted veggie-forward, balanced nutrition that offered the optimal protein, healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients. I also wanted my son to start his journey with food in the healthiest way possible -- to assure we were setting up for a lifetime of healthy eating."

-- Katie Thomson MS, RD, Cofounder/CEO of Square Baby 

Baby sitting in high chair - eating from a spoon 

Why is it so important that baby learn to eat from a spoon?

There are a ton of benefits of learning to eat from a spoon. Let’s dig in...

  • 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. 
Baby eating baby food with a spoon - Square Baby

The 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.

Check out our new sustainable packaging!

We're proud to unveil our new containers that have been in development for years (good heavens, it was a process!). It was important to us that we evolve our packaging to meet our customers needs. And as our CEO says, "Things worth doing are worth doing right."

Our new, award-winning SUSTAINABLE container is made with 100% post-consumer plastic -- and perfect for dipping a spoon into! They're recyclable, reusable, stackable, and easy to store in the freezer and thaw in the fridge.   

We like the large, open surface area so baby can explore their food and successfully dip their utensil or fingers into their meal.  It's also easy to add breastmilk, formula, or water to thin the meal as desired. Or whole grain infant cereal or allergen powders to thicken the meal. Try Square Baby's Peanut Powder for Early Allergen Introduction!

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's MealsEvery Square Meal is perfectly balanced with veggies, fruit, whole & sprouted grains, and protein to offer 100% Daily Nutrition. And they're made fresh, quickly frozen to lock in nutrients, and delivered right to your door

Get started today and let Square Baby take mealtime off your plate. 

Baby food - Baby purees delivered - Square Baby

Additional resources:

  • 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

Reach out if you have questions at hello@squarebaby.com!

Founders of Square Baby - Katie Thomson and Kendall Glynn

~Katie and Kendall, cofounders

    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.

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