Once upon a time, I wasn’t so sure about the baby food pouch. Part of me thinks it’s because I craved the “click-ability” of the lids of baby food jars from my own childhood. But I also stubbornly made all my own baby food for a while. Then, I heard about Ella’s Kitchen pouches. These were essentially the EXACT same thing I was making at home – real organic food with no fillers.
So, I dove in head first.
Just kidding. I obsessively researched like a paranoid, over-protective, first-time mama. And I found that Ella’s Kitchen is kind of the cream-of-the-crop as far as readily-available (ie: Target) baby food pouches go. They come with a slightly higher price tag, but I’ve seen some good sales. And besides, you can’t beat The Red One smoothie. Their toddler snacks, like Nibbly Fingers, are pretty popular in our household, too.
And last, I have to give a shout out to Happy Baby. Online, they actually list the amount of each fruit and veggie included in their new line of pouches, Clearly Crafted. And Happy Baby’s Rice Cakes finally helped Oliver find finger food success. I crumbled them and rolled pieces of banana in the crumbs to give it a bit more traction. After weeks of struggles, his pudgy little fingers finally found purchase!
One (slightly more expensive) brand that I haven’t tried is Sprout, but they bake and roast their fruits and vegetables instead of steaming and boiling them, so more nutrients and flavor are retained.
Really though, I haven’t found huge brand-to-brand differences in pouches. One thing I do avoid are brands that list water as the first ingredient or include fillers and/or preservatives. These little pouches already cost enough; I want the ones I purchase to be packed full of only good food and nutrients!
Think you missed your window because your little one is well into chewing real grown-up food?
Let me put this in perspective: That little icon that says, “4 months+” should NOT be a deterrent to anyone with an older baby, toddler, preschooler or child. As a former middle school teacher, I saw many 6th and 7th graders pull applesauce pouches out of their lunch bags. And I know many active college students who throw chia seed pouches in their bags. This stuff isn’t just baby food.
Still not so sure about the power of the pouch? Let me just list for you all the ways I’ve learned to rely on these little gems.
Mama’s Pouch Power Plays:
- You know those nights where your little one wakes up and won’t go back to sleep? And just happens to be slightly past the bottle stage, but not great with a cup when half asleep and half crabby? POUCH. A little top off of pears, mangoes, and papayas settled mine right in, and he was snoozing in five minutes.
- You know those times when your child is so sick they can’t even chew? And the smell of Pedialyte makes you want to hurl FOR them? POUCH. Yummy AND full of powerful nutrients.
- How about the times you’re about to run 5,000 errands and you don’t want to deal with cereal being spilled on the floor of the car again? POUCH. I actually tell Oliver how many errands we need to get through before he can have his pouch. If I play it just right, he looks forward to it like the “I” word (ice cream).
- This is a big one: Vaccination appointment = POUCH. Maybe it’s just my own child’s love affair with food, or maybe it’s because you can’t easily continue crying while eating, but sucking down a pouch seemed to take the post-shot pain away pretty quickly!
- Packing for the pool? POUCH. Sure, I have spent adult-swim peeling an orange with pruny fingers, but really? Why not just toss in a pouch? The same could be said for packing for the zoo, park or Science City. Actually, we’ve come to treat pouches as our on-the-go snacks quite a bit. You can find a small hippo snack container of Power O’s cereal and a fruit & veggie pouch in my bag at all times.
- Heading to Grandma’s for the afternoon? POUCH. Sure, there will be fresh baked cookies and delicious drippy popsicles. But at least a little nutrition will get thrown in the mix at some point. If anything, it might also buy Grandma a few minutes of sanity while the cookies finish baking.
- And last, the “I’m too tired to make a real meal for you” moment. POUCH.IT.UP. I have absolutely no issues with melting some cheese in a tortilla, rolling it up, and serving it with a side of nutrient-packed pouch goodness. Especially the veggie mixes. In my eyes, a serving of pears, peas, and broccoli adds enough green to the meal to make it count. Sometimes, I also like to add one of these to a meal like spaghetti, where the veggies are lacking just a bit, and I don’t want to actually make a veggie side because I want to save all of my available food space for the approaching carb-party.
One more tip: I think part of the reason Oliver buys into these Pouch Power Plays so well is because I let him pick his own pouches at the grocery store.
It’s his chance to actually touch the food on the shelves, make decisions, and toss them into the cart. He is even in charge of putting them on the conveyor belt at check out. Ownership is a powerful thing!