There are so many options and choices when it comes to feeding your baby and, as a new parent, it may be overwhelming.
Initially, the big question is breastfeeding or formula, and then if using formula, which brand is the best fit.
However, before you know it, your child is passed the newborn stage and it’s time to introduce solid foods! Generally, this happens sometime around the six month mark. However, if your baby is double their birth weight and can sit in a highchair and hold their head up, they may be ready for solid food slightly earlier.
If your child is approaching this age, you may have noticed there are two distinct options when it comes to containers of baby food – the jar and the pouch.
So what’s better: Baby food pouches vs jars — or do you need both?
Pouches and jars are both great ways to feed your baby, but overall the more modern pouch is probably the more versatile solution. Pouches encourage independence, are better on-the-go, and can still be portioned onto a spoon just like a jar. Pouches are a bit more expensive than jars, though.
However, a lot of parents choose to use jars at home and pouches on the go — there’s no reason you can’t do both!
Let’s take a closer look at baby food pouches and jars.
Baby Food Jars explained
Glass jars were the original way that pureed baby food was produced for mass distribution in the 1920s.
Today, commercially made baby foods are stored in glass or plastic containers that are recyclable and sometimes reusable.
With jars, the food can be poured into a bowl or scooped straight out of the jar with a spoon to feed baby.
Baby food in jars range in cost from approximately 15 to 30 cents an ounce for fruits and vegetables and around 50 cents an ounce for meats.
Generally, the foods in a jar offer a wider variety of flavors than the pouches do.
Most of the more recognizable brands, including:
- Happy Baby
- and Earth’s Best
… are all available in jars and can be found both in the traditional box stores as well as via online stores.
Pros and Cons of Baby Food Jars
The glass or plastic jar is a classic choice.
But is it the best choice?
- The containers are resealable and can be placed back in the refrigerator if they are not consumed in a single feeding.
- Once used, the glass jars can be washed and used for craft projects or for storage of homemade baby foods or can be recycled.
- Gripping a spoon for feeding is a necessary fine motor skill and eating food from a jar is an easy way for a child to practice this skill.
- Glass jars do not contain some chemicals that have been known to leach into foods from plastics when stored long-term.
- Feeding with a spoon can be messy and sometimes there may be more food on the floor and on your child’s face than there is in their stomach.
- Jars or plastic containers are not easily portable in diaper bags, backpacks, or purses.
- It requires the caregiver to be active and participatory throughout feeding time, because children are unable to both hold and steady the jar while using the spoon to bring the food to their mouths.
So, is the baby food pouch better?
Let’s take a look!
The Baby Food Pouch Explained
The baby food pouch is a much more modern development which was introduced by Plum Organics in 2008 but rose quickly in popularity and use.
They are a baglike pouch with a short straw or mouthpiece attachment on the top that dispenses the food directly into baby’s mouth.
(Of course, pouch food can still be squeezed into a spoon by a parent or caregiver.)
Baby food pouches tend to be slightly more expensive, generally costing between 20 cents and 40 cents per ounce, with higher end organic brands being a bit more expensive than that.
As previously mentioned, there are not as many choices of flavors in the pouches and the pouches are not recyclable.
All the major brands mentioned previously that can be found in jars are also made in pouches, however the original pouch brand, Plum Organics, continues to only produce its foods in the pouch.
Pros and Cons of Baby Food Pouches
Pouches are modern and are slowly becoming the more popular choice vs jars.
But are they actually better?
- These are low mess because there is not a distance from the spoon all the way to baby’s mouth since the child can put the straw directly in her mouth and eat it. (However, a rogue squeeze of the pouch can make a big mess!)
- It promotes the development of oral motor muscles, which are important as children are learning to talk. When children begin to chew different consistencies of foods, they will benefit from oral motor strength and coordination.
- It is very convenient and fits easily into the side pocket of a diaper bag or purse and it is resealable.
- There are reusable ones that can be purchased to hold your own homemade baby food.
- Often, children will continue to eat from these types of pouches until they are 3, 4, or 5 years old and it can be a good way to get them to eat a healthy snack while on the go.
- Children as young as 7 or 8 months can hold them and use them independently.
- If food never touches a baby or toddler’s face or hands, they may develop aversions to other textures of foods or have a hard time transitioning to finger foods.
- Exclusive use of pouches could delay the development of fine motor skills that are developed with the use of a spoon or with finger foods.
- Because they can use them independently, there is no way to control the amount they are getting in each swallow, and this could result in choking or gagging if the child sucks the food down too quickly.
- The critical age for learning to chew and swallow is 8-11 months. If pouches are used exclusively or most of the time, this could delay mastery of this skill resulting in it being difficult to introduce a wider variety of foods.
- When carried in a purse or bag they may be punctured, which can cause a significant mess. Smaller pinhole punctures can cause the food inside to mold.
In the end, which is better? The jar or the pouch?
In my opinion, pouches are the better and more versatile option vs jars.
They can do almost everything a jar can do (be portioned onto a spoon, be re-sealed in many cases, etc.) and are better on-the-go and for encouraging independence.
However, the big downside to pouches is that they’re usually more expensive. If you’re on a budget, jars will save you money over time.
Jars are a traditional, time-tested choice and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t offer your baby both.
Having pouches for on-the-go and using jars at home or at daycare is a great way to combine using both types of baby food storage.
That way, your baby gets all the great benefits of both!
For more comparisons, check out:
- Humidifier vs air purifier for the nursery
- Baby yogurt vs regular yogurt
- NoseFrida vs electric aspirator
Hope this helps!