Which is better for baby? Spoon or Pouch Feeding?
Within the world of solids comes multiple nuances that you may have not thought of. BEABA decided to ask Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC for her take on one of those nuances! See below for her thoughts and advice.
At the end of the day, feeding babies quality, nutritious food is what matters. But, within the world of feeding your little ones, there can be a lot of nuances. And as you start to feed your babies’ solids, I want to share some pros and cons to feeding babies purees directly from pouches versus feeding purees with spoons. A decision you may not even think about, or even realized was a decision to make.
Spoon VS Pouch Feeding
Baby food pouches have become very popular, and are generally the more available option, compared to jars, in the baby food aisles. Parents love them because they are lighter, less breakable, and more transportable than glass jars. And, a huge win for many parents is that pouches can eliminate the need for spoons. Which means, one less utensil to use and wash, and more independent, faster eating. Because of the fine motor skills and coordination needed for spoon-feeding, most babies take longer to figure out how to feed themselves with spoons than to squeeze and suck purees from pouches. And, because eating directly from a pouch is easier for a baby to do, it is usually less messy. Though, don’t get me wrong – it will still be messy because the mess is unavoidable in any situation with babies and food.
Reading the above from a mum or dad lens, you’re probably thinking why would anyone choose the spoon. But, as a Registered Dietitian specialising in pediatric nutrition, I see feeding straight from pouches a bit differently. I am a big proponent of feeding experiences that promote sensory exercises for the baby. Eating can be an all-encompassing sensory experience – babies want to see, touch, smell, taste, and even hear their food. These interactions with food are important for raising adventurous, confident eaters that are ready to explore and accept new foods. When babies suck and eat directly from a pouch, they may miss seeing, touching, and smelling their food, which leaves less interaction between babies and the foods. This can create more passive feeding experiences rather than fully immersed ones. From an oral-motor development perspective, sucking purees from pouches is a very different exercise than learning to use tongues to manipulate purees off of spoons and getting it to the back of their mouths to swallow. In that way, sucking purees from a pouch is a similar skill used in sucking from a bottle. And, when babies eat food, we want them to practice new oral motor skills.
The final element that I think about is the time and pacing of meals. Pouches speed up meals and allow babies to more easily eat on the go. But, when possible, I opt for meals to actually take the time and focus babies need to be active, engaged eaters. When babies are sucking from a pouch while strolling in their strollers, they are more likely to pay attention to the cars and dogs that go by than the food they are eating. Most babies can suck up those pouches in a matter of minutes! This means, in many cases, babies will eat more than they need to. Whereas, when babies are eating with spoons, their pace is slower, which is a good thing – it can help babies learn about their hunger and fullness cues.
So, what does this all mean for you? Pouches make for great baby food storage, both for store-bought and homemade purees. So, when purees come in pouches, I recommend pouring the purees into bowls and allowing babies to eat with spoons. But, I’ve also learned from my profession and being a mum of 2, that every baby and family is different, and flexibility is key. Survival mode kicks in, and you have to do what is easiest. But, when you can, I recommend that babies eat slowly, in their designated eating places, and that they interact with their food using all of their senses in order to foster positive experiences between them and food. And, sorry for saying this, but embrace the mess.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article, Spoon VS Pouch Feeding, Which is Better for Baby? See more about the author below!
Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CLC. –
See more of Nicole’s work on her site at Tiny Tasters
Follow Nicole on Instagram at @nsilbereats
Nicole is an NYC based Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition, Lactation Counselor, and Mum of 2.
She is the creator of Tiny Tasters: Baby’s First Bites, an on-demand, video-based class teaching parents everything they need to know how to feed babies (4-12 months) in a safe, fun, nutritious, flavorful and baby-guided way. She is the nutritionist with FoodieKid, and she also works individually with families managing picky eating, food allergies, prematurity, feeding struggles, chronic medication conditions, and GI issues. Her background is in clinical pediatric nutrition where she spent 5 years in New York pediatric hospitals and outpatient settings.