Why Baby Food Pouches Need to Go

CC BY 2.0. Wikimedia Commons

These non-recyclable plastic food bags are a scourge of modern infancy.

The world was a better place before baby food pouches came along. Now, in the name of convenience, parents hand over suckable plastic bags of pureed food with chunky plastic tops, so that their hungry baby doesn’t have to wait around for a glass jar to be opened or a spoon to be found.

These parents are well-meaning, of course. They want their babies to be healthy, chock-full of creamed spinach and kale blended with mango, pomegranate, and beets, which is why they hand over the pouches. And the little munchkin, who has been conditioned only to accept vegetables that are invisible, silky-smooth, and sweetened, sucks it back eagerly, before tossing the trash on the floor.

What parents don’t stop to think about, however, is that convenience comes at a cost, and that cost is plastic pollution that could potentially contaminate the body of the same little person whom the parents are in the process of raising so carefully.

Baby food pouches are made of multiple layers of plastic that must be cleaned and separated in order to be recycled, which almost never happens. (People never bothered to wash and separate K-cups, so why would they do it for baby food pouches?) In most cases, said Brent Bell, vice-president of Waste Management, the components in a baby food pouch cannot be separated at all, which means it goes straight to a landfill after its brief 20 seconds of glory.

There the pouch lingers, possibly making its way into the ocean, breaking down into smaller pieces, being ingested by fish, and eventually arriving on your now-grown child’s plate, where s/he eats it for dinner in the form of wine-braised mussels. Yuck.

What’s particularly infuriating about baby food pouches is how unnecessary they are. They never used to exist and, somehow, children grew up just fine without them. Perfectly decent and far more economical alternatives exist, such as reusable and recyclable glass baby food jars and (gasp) blenders! In which to blend real food!

Baby food pouches represent so many things that make me crazy about modern parenting – from the bizarre assumption that a parent cannot leave the house unless armed with treats so that a fragile child does not become hypoglycemic during a 10-minute drive to the babysitter’s house, to the ongoing obsession with hiding what food is actually made of from (OMG, it’s green!), to being in such a chronic hurry that stopping the car to feed an infant with a spoon is considered inconvenient. (If that’s the case, don’t bother having a kid.)

Just don’t. Please don’t. Let’s relegate baby food pouches to the realm of embarrassing inventions of the past that we wish we'd never heard of.