Seventeen-month-old Olivia Wilkins loves meal time.
As a toddler her stomach is still small, so she needs the most out of what goes in it.
“It needs to be a good source of calories. It has to have a good source of carbohydrate and protein and fiber,” said Shelley Wilkins, a WakeMed registered dietician who is also Olivia’s mom.
Shelley Wilkins is an expert in shopping for the best baby food on store shelves.
“First, look for the serving size. Some of these pouches or these jars may have more than one serving in there,” she said.
Second, look for calories. Then check for fiber, which will help keep baby’s stool soft.
Last, look for protein.
Wilkins says little jars are still out there, but you can also buy foil-top cups and convenient squeeze pouches with a resealable cap.
She showed one pouch that sneaks in spinach and peas with sweet pears, which may eventually present a problem.
“Part of being an adult is learning how food actually tastes, and so we're masking all these tastes,” she said.
And kids may prefer to suck food straight from the pouch, which could bypass a learning skill.
“Spoon-feeding is a skill that we learn because adults aren't walking around eating from packets,” Wilkins said.
That's why she gives Olivia a spoon or fork to hold even while she's eating finger food. She says her favorite finger food for her daughter is the same as when she was a little girl – Cherrios.