Pioneers Changing the Fruit-Heavy Baby Food Aisle

Author Image Katie Thomson MS, RD | Cofounder

Square Baby collaborates with brands and healthcare leaders to spearhead new Veggie Campaign -- igniting change in the baby food industry.

What is Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA)?

PHA’s mission is to transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity. In 2010, PHA was created along with Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA identifies, supports, and celebrates voluntary business practices that lead to new norms and behavior around food and physical activity.

Square Baby puree meal with fruits and veggies

Square Baby Co-Creates “Veggies Early and Often” Campaign

As a founding partner of PHA’s “Shaping Early Palates” initiative, Square Baby’s cofounders, Katie Thomson MS, RDN and Kendall Glynn MS, CGC, played an integral part in the creation of the “Veggies Early & Often” (VEO) campaign. As dietitians and clinicians, they guided the research, white paper, and development of the VEO Icon and veggie-forward nutrition criteria.

Through Veggies Early & Often, we are committed to raising a generation of veggies lovers. Together with PHA, our goal is to give all children a healthy start by driving awareness of the importance of vegetable consumption for infants and toddlers and encouraging more vegetable-forward products in the marketplace and at early childhood education centers nationwide.

Baby sitting in high chair and eating

But there is still work to be done.

Research shows that diets rich in fruits and vegetables – especially green leafy vegetables can help prevent chronic disease and obesity later in life. The problem is infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the US don’t eat enough veggies.

Statistics on Current Veggie Consumption Among Children

  • Only about 10% of children consume the recommended daily amount of vegetables per day.
  • 30% of toddlers and preschoolers eat less than 1 serving of veggies per day. And, not surprisingly, white potatoes (french fries, potato chips, puffs, tater tots, etc) were the most commonly consumed “vegetable” among toddlers.
  • Unfortunately, our youngest eaters (7-13 months) eat less than 50% of deep yellow/orange veggies and less than 11% consume dark green vegetables.

The Solution for More Veggies

Research on early learning of flavor preferences shows that children are born with a natural preference for sweet flavors but through exposure to vegetables early and often, children can grow to enjoy the flavors of vegetables. Parents and caregiver efforts to provide veggie-forward diets to young children can either be supported or hampered by offerings in the baby and toddler food marketplace.

    Square Baby can help.

    PHA’s “Veggies Early & Often” (VEO) Icon

    Square Baby, alongside the other founding Shaping Early Palates members, participated in a cross-industry effort to design the industry’s first veggie-forward criteria for baby and toddler food products. These criteria qualify products to meet the “Veggies Early & Often” Icon.

    “Our hope is to encourage more companies to reformulate existing products and/or create new products to meet the VEO Icon – to encourage the next generation of adventurous eaters and facilitate increased vegetable acceptance in infants and toddlers across the country.”

    -- Katie Thomson, MS, RD, Cofounder

    Partnership for a Healthier America Seal

    The icon can be used by companies on packaging if products meet PHA’s Veggies Early & Often nutritional criteria, which are based on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    For an infant or toddler food product, meal, or menu item to use the Veggies Early & Often icon the baby or toddler food also must meet PHA’s rigorous standards:

    • Food products for infants and toddlers have >50% vegetables by weight
    • Meal products for infants and toddlers have >40% vegetables by weight
    • Product has no added salt or sugar and is free of artificial preservatives, flavors and dyes, non-nutritive sweeteners, stimulants, and depressants

    Why is the VEO Icon so important?

    PHA approved veggie-forward products, such as those offered by Square Baby, allow parents and caregivers to introduce infants and toddlers to a wide variety of vegetable flavors and nutrients starting with their first bites. It also creates a simple way to find veggie-forward products when shopping for baby and toddler food.

    “In a sea of fruit-heavy pouches and jars, it can be challenging for parents to find meals that are truly veggie-forward and nutritionally balanced. The VEO Icon allows parents to sift through the options quickly to find meals that provide the veggies and nutrition they’re hoping to feed their little one.”

    -- Katie Thomson, MS, RD, Cofounder

    Sliced veggies including avocado, pepper, and corn

    Our Commitment

    When Square Baby joined PHA and co-created the Veggies Early & Often initiative, its products already met PHA’s high nutritional standards. However, Square Baby went above and beyond by reformulating to further increase the vegetable content of nearly every meal.

    We know that introducing multiple and positive exposures to veggies with a variety of tastes, flavors, and textures can encourage kiddos to become adventurous foodies - but it can be challenging. That's why we are committing to 100% veggie-forward meals for our kiddos - and making it a lot easier for our families with our Square Baby meals.

    Square Baby green purees in a straight line

    A Few Highlights We’re Super Proud Of:

    • 100% of our meals meet PHA’s VEO Icon.
    • Veggies will ALWAYS be the primary food group in every Square Baby meal.
    • We will remove 3 of our Single Ingredient fruit purees: Lil Peach, Lil Mango, and Lil Pear.
    • We will introduce at least 3 new meals that are at least 90% veggies!
    • 74% of our recipes have been reformulated to increase their veggie percentage!

    “My daughter is a huge fan of Square Baby’s Spinach Dahl,. I love the spices and the fact that it is packed with a wide variety of vegetables like spinach, peppers, tomatoes, sprouted green lentils, and more!"

    -- Helen L, Square Baby customer

    Partnership for a healthier america seal and square baby logo

    Benefits of Introducing Veggies Early and Often:

    • Set Baby Up for a Healthy, Happy Life: Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, especially green veggies, can help prevent chronic diseases and support weight management.
    • Build Healthy Eating Patterns: The first 1000 days of life are a critical period for the development of healthy taste preferences and dietary patterns.
    • Kids CAN Grow to Love Veggies: Children are born with preferences for sweet and salty tastes, but not for the bitter, umami, or even spicy tastes of veggies. But early exposure to veggies can help baby shape their taste preferences.
    • Early Veggie Variety is Key to Raising an Adventurous Eater: Don’t just offer sweet potatoes, corn, peas, and carrots. Offering a diverse array of veggies like beets, spinach, broccoli, green beans, squashes, kale, and even herbs will help babe become a lil foodie!

    For more information about PHA, please visit and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.

    Founders of Square Baby

    ~Katie & Kendall, cofounders and chief mamas

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