By Dr. Sue Hubbard
The Kid’s Doctor
I’m back on the subject of “squeeze pouch food,” or as one cute 2½-year-old I know calls it, “squeegy fruit.”
I was fascinated by these products when they first hit the market. On one hand, I get that they’re convenient and easy to use when children first begin eating pureed baby food. On the other hand, I think they’re also being given to older children, which is not a good idea.
It seems more and more kids are enjoying “squeegy fruit” and also “slurping” pureed vegetables. The issue is these pouch foods are being “masqueraded” as healthy foods. Yes, they contain fruits and vegetables, often mixed together, but if you read the labels, things get a bit more complicated.
I see so many toddlers in my office happily “sucking down” a packet of apples and blueberries. Their parents are adamant that these kids don’t get juice boxes or eat “junk food,” but at the same time are allowed to “suck down” several of these pouches a day. The packets are often given in place of meals, as many of these children are described as “picky eaters.”
I saw a little boy recently who’d been vomiting, but was on the exam table with pouch to mouth as he “drank/ate” a combo of apples, peas and something else (not recommended when vomiting).
I decided to look up the nutritional value of these pouches. Many of them, although tagged as “all organic” or described as “healthy,” contain a lot of carbohydrates and sugars (actually, as much as two fruit roll-ups!) I did a little comparison and two of the “dreaded” fruit roll-ups contain 23 grams of carbohydrate and almost 11 grams of sugar, while a 3.2 ounce pouch has somewhere between 19 and 24 grams of carbs and between 14 and 23 grams of sugar.
The point of this is not to say that “squeeze pouches” are bad, or that a child should never eat a fruit roll-up. Rather, it is to point out that even “healthy” snacks can be full of sugar.
Rather than a fruit roll-up or a squeeze pouch, what about a piece of whole fruit? Sure, it may be messier to cut up oranges or apples, but those pouches are not teaching young children about food textures, chewing or nutrition.
Pouches are great for travel, special occasions and babies. They are not for toddlers, and certainly not for everyday consumption. Oh, and lastly, they’re also bad for the teeth!
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of “The Kid’s Doctor” radio show. Submit questions at kidsdr.com.
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