Lots of parents have been asking about pre-prepared fruit and veggie pouches, and whether they're nutritionally any good. So time for a review on these! Today I've chosen Rafferty's Garden Spinach, Apple, Broccoli and Pea squeezie pouch. There's a variety of types out there so I might cover a couple of over the next few weeks.
🔹Apple (70%), pea (18%), broccoli (8%), spinach (4%)
🔹Common allergens include: nil
🔹This is a product made entirely of fruit and vegetables. No cheap fillers or watered down contents (like many other baby products!)
🔹Fat, sugar and salt content within healthy guidelines
🔹Great option for when you need something nutritious and you need it quickly! This pack can be kept in the pantry or in a baby bag for emergencies.
🔹If you choose this product for the vegetable content, keep in mind that less than a third is actually coming from vegetables. The rest of the purée is apple, meaning it will have a much sweeter taste than if it were only veggies. It is SO important to introduce babies to plenty of single food tastes (including meat and vegetables) to get them used to different flavours. Otherwise, they start to expect all foods to have a predominantly sweet taste, and this becomes what they prefer.
🔹Squeezie packs are convenient and less messy than spoons, and retain some of the more heat-sensitive nutrients when compared to jars and cans. BUT they really don't help babies to develop biting and chewing skills that they need for other foods. Instead, a squeezie pack encourages them to suck like they would on a bottle. This would be best decanted into a bowl and served with a spoon. There are some great early self-feeding spoons on the market now that 'grip' the purée if your baby likes to do it herself!
🔹Pre-prepared baby food like this is much more expensive than homemade food. At $1.95 per pack this works out to $16.30/kg, which is much more expensive than any fruit or veg on the shelves!
🔹Baby food with a long shelf life is traditionally heat treated to prevent it from spoiling. Rafferty's Garden claim to use as little cooking time as possible in their processing, but pressurised heat treatment will still destroy more vitamins than traditional home cooking methods.
🔹It's interesting that spinach is the first food listed in the title of the product, especially given that it only makes up 4% of the purée. I suspect this is the 'superfood' that the manufacturers are trying to market to unsuspecting parents.
🔹"4+ months smooth" Remember that babies do NOT need to be on solids by 4 months, and in fact, most are not ready to eat at this stage. Research has shown that an age guide like this on a packet makes parents worry that they're starting solids too late (when they're not!) Staying on very smooth textures for too long can also be an issue for some babies who then find it difficult to then tolerate lumps and bumps in their food.
🔹"No added salt, sugar or juices, artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or GM ingredients." All true.
🔹Definitely not a bad option for times where you need quick access to a nutritious snack!
🔹Where possible, freshly prepared food contains slightly more nutritious content than heat treated food. Homemade food is also cheaper and less consistent in texture, which is great for teaching bubs about different foods. As a second alternative, frozen baby food cubes tend to retain more nutrients than heat treated products.
🔹Remember to offer a variety of sweet and savoury tastes so your child doesn't become hooked on sweets only.
About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith is a paediatric dietitian specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. She has a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla on her website and sign up for her newsletter, and her Facebook page or on her Instagram page.