You know those squeezable pouches full of fruits and vegetables? The ones that make life so easy? Well, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is warning that they might increase the risk of tooth decay.
Sometimes it seems like nothing is safe anymore, doesn’t it? Short of keeping our kids in a bubble, we can’t protect them from every risk. But that doesn’t mean common sense won’t carry you a long way.
This at least was pretty much my own reaction when I read an article recently discussing this issue.
Squeezable fruit and vegetables are available in pouches with a plastic tip that the child puts in their mouth. The child then squirts or squeezes the foods into his mouth. Available as an alternative to traditional jars of baby food, and also used as snacks for toddlers and older children, these pouches have been selling like hotcakes over the last four years.
PROS of the pouch:
Convenient for travel. Eliminates the need for a spoon.
Some parents argue that this is the only method they’ve found for getting a variety of fruits and vegetables into their child’s diet.
CONS of the pouch:
Many children wander around with the pouch in their mouths, sucking on it over a long period of time, and this is exactly where the AAPD‘s concerns come in to play. As you know, prolonged exposure to sugars, including those in fruits and vegetables, increases the potential for cavities to form. Pediatric dentists have the same concern about children using Sippy cups for juice and milk, as well as about children going to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice.
Obviously, these pouches offer a real benefit to families on the go. They shouldn’t, however, replace regular meals or exposure to real fruits and vegetables. Using a utensil and being exposed to interpersonal interactions at meal times are important parts of a child’s development. And so I’ll make a couple of suggestions here:
Make your child take a seat to eat the pouch, and then limit the time they have it—just like you would at meal time. Many parents say their children suck down these pouches in 3 to 5 minutes, which is unlikely to expose teeth to any more risk than any other meal.
As with any exposure to sugary substances, encourage your child to drink water afterwards to rinse the teeth. (Yes, brushing teeth would be even better but, if you’re on the go, it's probably not likely to happen.)
And, as always, encourage good dental habits, which include brushing teeth at least twice a day.