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Baby food pouches: what you need to know

babyfoodpouchesWe’ve all seen or used baby food packaged in pouches. But just because the pouch has a nozzle, doesn’t mean you should allow your baby to suck the food straight out.

Sucking food from pouches over a prolonged period of time may actually inhibit chewing and the progression to textured foods.

Textured foods are important for the continued development of your baby’s chewing action and the muscles required for normal speech development.

Poor development of oral muscles can lead to a delay in speech development.

It is recommended that you squeeze the contents of the pouch into a bowl or spoon or attach a purpose-built spoon head to the food pouch to assist in the child’s muscle development.

Eating from a spoon Sucking from a pouch
Encourages development of the chewing action and muscles required for speech May delay development of the natural chewing action and oral muscles
Allows your baby to stop when satisfied May not allow your baby to control food intake, increasing the risk of overeating
Allows you to progress to more textured foods Could prevent the important progression toward more textured foods
Allows the introduction of iron rich foods such as infant cereals and meats Possibly delays the introduction of iron rich foods important for brain growth and general health
Reduces the risk of choking Could create a choking hazard as food can be sucked down into the lungs

More Feeding Tips

Finger food

As soon as your baby can sit alone, unsupported, you can start offering some finger foods. These need to be safe, soft fruits and vegetables that have been precooked are ideal. Always stay and watch your child when they have food in their hands. Never leave a child alone with food. Remember: gagging is normal and noisy, but choking is silent.

Knockbacks are normal

It is important to keep offering babies food they may seem to have rejected at first. It can take up to 10 attempts before babies will accept a new taste. Then it may take a few tastes before they start to like it; however foods they may be reluctant to try at first can end up being their lifelong favourites!

Bland ain’t bad

Unlike adults, babies don’t need highly flavoured foods. Babies have more taste buds than adults and taste foods more intensely. They can enjoy bland foods like rice cereal, and most of what’s good for them early on will be comparatively bland to us. That’s not a problem, it’s a good thing: they will only eat when they’re hungry and let you know when they have had enough. Do not add salt, sugar, pre-prepared sauces, or stock to your baby’s food – it’s just not necessary.

Consistency is critical

Allowing children to progress from simply sucking to becoming an expert at chewing is an essential part of developing the reflexes and muscle control they need to begin speaking. There is a strong link between poor chewing and delayed speech development. So keep trying even if it gets hard!

– this article was kindly supplied by Heinz Infant Feeding Advisory Service

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