Florence sees Sprout as a way to expose more young eaters to a wider variety of more flavorful foods. His own "Aha!" moment came when a friend's toddler was spitting up old-fashioned jar food. Florence steamed and pureed carrots, and the boy licked the bowl clean.
"If you're feeding a child just sort of green gruel out of a jar and they're spitting it up all over their shirt, they're saying, 'Listen, I don't like this stuff,' " Florence said.
Organic pouches can run $1.69 for 4 ounces, compared to 99 cents for some jarred food. Still, Meagan Call of Cleveland, Ohio, says she can get them on sale for about $1. Call sees pouches as a healthy alternative to sugar-heavy juice boxes for her 18-month-old son.
"They're more like smoothies," Call said. "That's what I see it as. I'm giving him smoothies and smoothies are fairly healthy as long as you don't overdo it."
Not everyone is cooing over pouches, though.
One common criticism is that in some cases a pouch will read something like "spinach and apples," giving an impression of a vegetable-rich meal even if the ingredient label lists more apples than spinach. More pointedly, some critics claim that parents tend to over-rely on pouches.
Dina Rose, a sociologist who writes the "It's Not About Nutrition" blog, said while pouches can be a beneficial "bridge" to fresh fruits and vegetables, they are no substitute.
"It lulls people into thinking that they've done their fruit-and-vegetable job. So they're done," Rose said. "And it gets them out of what they think of as the struggle to get their kids to eat fruits and vegetables."
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