Every mom knows that when you're out and about with toddlers, you better bring some snacks. Toddlers have tiny tummies and attention spans, so loading them up with a filling meal before you leave the house isn't always going to work.
And because we're always looking for ways to add more fruits and vegetables to our kids' diets, tucking a couple pouches of fruit and veggie purée in our bag seems like a smart move. These pouches don't get bruised or need to be cut up, like fresh fruit. And if you don't use them, no problem — they'll keep for months until you crack them open.
First, 3 Things to Know About Fruit and Veggie Pouches
1. They're not teaching many lessons about food.
Pouches of purée don't teach toddlers about textures in foods, chewing, using their fingers to feed themselves, or even what nutritious food looks like. Plus, chewing is an important part of feeling full. Researchers say the act of chewing sends "satiation signals" to the brain.
2. They can be misleadingly sweet.
Even purées with vegetables taste sweet because they're mixed with sweet fruits like apples and pears. Although it's nice to be able to get some spinach into your little one during snack time, it's not helping them develop a taste for the actual vegetable.
3. They don't have a ton of fiber.
The pouches contain about the same amount of natural sugar of fresh fruit (and no added sugar), but usually not as much of the fiber. Most pouches hover around 12 to 15 grams of sugar per serving and 1 gram of fiber. For comparison, a cup of sliced apples has 11 grams of sugar and almost 3 grams of fiber. Also worth noting: There are 4 grams of sugar in just 1 teaspoon, so one pouch can have about a tablespoon of sugar.
For these reasons, experts recommend only giving your toddler food pouches as occasional snacks, not meal replacements. Also, check the nutrition information and list of ingredients on the back. If you choose a pouch for its healthy greens, but they're at the very end of the list, the product probably doesn't contain very much of them.
5 Fruit and Veggie Pouches We Can Get Behind
We evaluated all the purée pouches (geared toward toddlers, not babies) that we could find. A few brands rose to the top for keeping the sugar low — and adding a boost of fiber, protein, or vegetables.
This organic line offered a more generous serving than most (just over 1/2 cup), and yet most flavors had less sugar than other brands.
- Love My Veggies, $18 for 16 pouches: Vegetables like spinach, carrots, and zucchini are the first ingredient. Two of the flavors have 6 or 7 grams of sugar; the other two flavors were the usual 12 or 15 grams. Most have 2 grams of fiber and 1 or 2 grams of protein.
- Fiber & Protein, $25 for 16 pouches: A slightly smaller serving, but the addition of whey gives these fruit and veggie blends a little boost of protein. Most have 9 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.
- Supersmart, $22 for 16 pouches: These fruit purées with a touch of vegetables are made with a vitamin and mineral blend that includes choline and calcium, plus brain-healthy DHA algal oil. You'll find 10 to 13 grams of sugar, 2 to 3 grams of fiber, and 1 to 2 grams of protein.
- Superfoods, $14 for 16 pouches: The addition of chia seeds adds Omega-3s and fiber. Flavors averaged 14 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
2. Sprout Power Pak, $27 for 18 pouches
Of the six flavors, most are straight fruit, while others have a little spinach or butternut squash. What sets these apart is the "super blend" of beans, dates, coconut milk, and chia — so they all have extra fiber and protein. (For your reference, these contain 11 to 15 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein per pouch.)
This organic brand came under fire not long ago for misleading labeling: Veggies that were listed first on the front label were actually found far down the ingredient list on the back. Thankfully they've fixed that labeling issue. However, water is still almost always the second ingredient, which may account for why this brand's pouches have less sugar than most (read: they're diluted). Still, they're made with a wider range of ingredients — like navy beans and amaranth — than most other brands, and almost always offer a few grams of fiber and protein.
- Super Smoothie, $6 for four at Jet: A blend of fruits and veggies with beans and grains, these pouches have 7 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
- Mighty 4 Blends, $14 for 12 pouches: These pouches offer ingredients from the four food groups. They have 10 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.
- Mighty Veggie, $26 for 12 pouches: Each pouch includes a full serving of vegetables, plus fruit purée and chia seeds. They contain 10 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein.
- Mighty Colors, $11 for 6 pouches: A smaller-serving fruit-and-veg blend, these pouches also have chia seeds and grains like oats, barley, or amaranth. They have 5 to 7 grams of sugar, 2 to 3 grams of fiber, and 1 to 2 grams of protein.
4. Go and Grow by Similac Toddler Food Pouches, $15 for 12
Made with fruits plus vegetables — like carrots, spinach, broccoli, and butternut squash — these pouches also have a "brain- and eye-nourishing blend" of DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E. They average 9 to 12 grams of sugar, 1 to 2 grams of fiber, and 0 to 1 grams of protein per pouch.
5. Organic Slammers, $13 for four
The packaging is clearly aimed at elementary school kids, but these pouches — blending fruits, vegetables and yogurt — would work for toddlers too. They have 7 to 11 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. A protein line with added whey has 12 to 13 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein in a 90-gram pouch.
- Peter Rabbit Organics: At 125 grams, it's the biggest pouch of the bunch, making it ideal for big appetites. Plus, the pouches come in fruit-only or veggie-and-fruit blends, which tend to have a bit more fiber. Sugar ranges from 10 to 22 grams, and fiber ranges from 2 to 4 grams.
- Beech Nut On-the-Go: Of the nine "Fruities" flavors, two sneak in a bit of veggies (carrots and sweet potato). But if you want even more, go with the Veggies-on-the-Go line, which has the addition of zucchini, spinach, squash, or beets. The organic line is sort of a blend of both. All come in 99-gram pouches.
- NurturMe Power Blends: The 99-gram pouches blend mostly fruits with some vegetables, and some quinoa and amaranth too. They're targeted at Stage 2 eaters and up. These have 9 to 14 grams of sugar, 1 to 2 grams of fiber, and 0 to 1 gram of protein.
- Earth's Best: Most of the purées from this brand for older kids (9 months and up) are mini meals like chicken pot pie. But the pear, carrot, apricot pouch (120 grams) has 12 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber. The fruit yogurt smoothie — aimed specifically at toddlers — has 12 to 15 grams of sugar.
- Ella's Kitchen: These small 85-gram, fruit-only pouches have 11 grams of sugar.
- Gerber Graduates Grabbers Squeezable Fruit and Veggies and Gerber Organic Third Foods: Both of these lines from Gerber offer 120-gram pouches with 13 to 24 grams of sugar (for a banana-only purée).
- Go Go Squeeze: Although aimed at school-aged kids, these applesauce-based fruit and veggie pouches would work for toddlers. A 90-gram pouch has 11 to 12 grams of sugar.
- Parent's Choice: Walmart's store brand, these 99-gram fruit, or fruit-and-yogurt pouches have 14 to 15 grams of sugar.