For parents on the run, finding any kind of time saving shortcut can make a huge difference when trying to meet the demands of an always hectic schedule. To satisfy the demands of busy parents, a number of baby food companies have release squeezable pouches loaded with pureed organic foods in a variety of ingenious combination such as barley, berry, and plum.
Packaged in decorative foil pouches, these products feature built-in feeding tips that allow children to eat directly from the pouch. While these pouches generally cost significantly more than a traditional jar of baby food, many parents are willing to spend the extra money because they don’t require heating, refrigeration, or even a spoon to eat with. These pouches are even more appealing to children who prefer to eat on the run rather than sit still.
Since these products first hit supermarket shelves about five years ago, they have become common sights at park, playgrounds, daycares, and backseats of minivans. However, despite the benefits squeezable pouches offer parents and kids, all of the at slurping may have a downside to a child’s still developing oral health.
Protecting Your Child’s Teeth
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents transition their young children from drinking out of bottle to drinking out of a glass; skipping the use of a sippy cup altogether.
When children use sippy cups filled with sugary beverages, the liquid begins pooling around their baby teeth. The sugar in these liquids provide plaque, a sticky bacteria that grows in the mouth, the fuel it needs to produce acids that damage a child’s teeth. When this behavior becomes consistent, these plaque acids can cause tooth decay, which could lead to early tooth loss.
Researchers at the AAPD warn parents that squeezable pouches present the same risk to the health of a child’s teeth as the use of sippy cups. However, due to the consistency of the foods found in squeezable pouches, they might actually present an even bigger problem for kids if allowed to sit on teeth for prolonged periods of time. Because the types of foods found in pouches tend to stick to a child’s teeth, they provide bacteria an extended opportunity to buildup.
Fortunately, parents can help to minimize the effects these types of food have on their child’s teeth by making sure to brush at least twice a day, and having their children rinse with water after using a squeezable pouch.
Risk of Injury
Unlike more traditional forms of feeding, portable squeeze pouches present a potential injury risk to children should the plastic feeding tips jam into their teeth or gums while running around eating.
While these type of plastic pouches are too new to the market for any conclusive data, a recently published survey does suggest some risk.
Researchers at Columbus’ Nationwide Children’s Hospital conducted a national survey that found feeding products that feature similarly shaped mouthpieces could present a danger to young children. The study examined emergency room records of over 45,000 children under the age of three between 1991 and 2010 who were admitted after injuring themselves with a sippy cup, pacifier, or bottle. According to the records, these type of injuries occurred most frequently when the child was running around while holding the object.
While the risk these products present to the health of a child’s teeth probably don’t outweigh their convenience, parents do need to make sure they keep a careful eye on their children when eating from a pouch and to practice quality oral hygiene by brushing their child’s teeth twice a day.
Timothy Lemke is a freealance writer who consults with Dr. Jordan Takaki, a dentist in Tigard, Oregon, on pediatric oral health.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jul/5100758049/