Those squeezable pouches full of organic pureed baby food can be a lifesaver when you're on the go. Filled with yummy ingredients like plums, berries, and bananas—and feel-good ingredients like spinach and millet—squeeze pouches don't require refrigeration, heating, or even a spoon.
The downside to all this convenience?
Unfortunately, relying too much on squeeze pouches may put the squeeze on your child's teeth when it comes to cavity risk and dental safety. As NPR reports, overuse of squeeze pouches could be just as bad for baby teeth as slurping from a sippy cup full of milk or juice all day.
"The constant exposure of sugar on their teeth is detrimental. My concern would be if the child walks around with this little pouch, then they might be doing the same thing" Paul Casamassimo, oral health research and policy center director at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tells NPR.
Carbohydrates in all foods are used by bacteria to produce acid, and the acid eats away at the enamel of the teeth, creating the potential for cavities. Squeezable food may just as tough—or even tougher—on teeth because of its thicker consistency compared to juice and milk. "We know that tends to stick on teeth and prolong the opportunity for the bacteria to build," says Casamassimo.
Eating from a food pouch may also boost risk for dental injury. While there are no statistics available yet on pouch-related accidents, according to a report from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, between 1991 and 2010, more than 45,000 kids under age 3 ended up in the emergency room after injuring themselves with a bottle, pacifier, or sippy cup. Most of the time, they were running while holding the product, points out NPR.
Does this mean no more food pouches? Not necessarily. Casamassimo recommends brushing kids' teeth twice a day and making them rinse with water after eating the pouch foods (or drinking juice) to cut down on cavity risk. It's also important to make sure kids do not walk or run and eat at the same time—and, no matter how tasty, pouch foods should not make up the bulk of your child's diet.
Which is exactly what mom Nicole Trieste, of Short Hills, New Jersey, said happened when she discovered how easy feeding time became when she offered her toddler pouch food.
"When you have an 18-month-old who just wants to scamper around, it's easy to just say, 'Here, have some squeezy food,' rather than make him sit still for a snack," Trieste admits. Her dentist brought up food pouches at her son's last checkup.
"He asked about our sippy cup use, which is minimal, but also told me to watch out for the pouches, especially since at that time my son was going through two or three a day."
At approximately $2 a pouch, Trieste says cutting back to a few a week is saving her money on her grocery bill, and with any luck, her son's dental bills down the road.
"Part of me thinks, why does every fun and easy thing out there always have to have drawbacks? But I guess it just proves more than ever that 'everything in moderation' is probably the best advice around."