Parents know that at some point, their infant is going to begin to consume solid foods. For many new mothers and fathers, they concern about when exactly to make that shift. Another common worry regarding this shift is which foods can be introduced now and which should be introduced later. Some parents are more cautious than others when it comes to these factors. But another thing that parents should worry about as they have their child graduate to solid foods is ensuring they provide them with foods that are good for their teeth. Children’s teeth, after all, are imperative and can impact the development of their future adult teeth. Let us make the switch to solid foods easier for you by letting you in on our favorite tooth-healthy foods for babies.
The Top Tooth-Healthy Foods for Babies
As soon as you introduce solid foods into your child’s life, it’s a good idea to get them to try these tooth-healthy foods for babies. The earlier they try them, the more likely they’ll become accustomed to consuming these nutritious foods and make eating them a daily habit.
They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, apparently, it also keeps the dentist away (with the exception of your child’s usual biannual dental visits).
Apples, because they contain high fiber and offer a semi-gritty texture, can help scrub away stubborn plaque from your kid’s teeth. In addition, the potassium content in apples can boost the bone density of your son or daughter’s teeth to ensure they’re stronger than ever.
For picky children, apples can be introduced with peanut butter (or another nut butter if there is an allergy). Also consider getting your child to try different types of apples if the flavor of one variety doesn’t suit their palette. Some are sour, some are sweet, and some are a mixture of sour and sweet with various undertones of flavor.
Most children love dairy in some shape or form whether it be milk, cheese, or yogurt (or all three!). Not to mention, there are many different types of milk, varieties of cheeses, and flavors of yogurt your child can enjoy. (Chocolate milk is definitely one of them.) So, fortunately, these products aren’t all that difficult to introduce into your infant’s life when the time is right.
Dairy products contain phosphorous, casein, and calcium, which benefit the enamel of your children’s teeth. In turn of healthier enamel, your child’s teeth are more protected against cavity-causing bacteria, painful temperatures, and acids. So, they can enjoy better oral health and more comfortable eating.
Interestingly, a study revealed that when women consume plenty of calcium while pregnant, it can positively impact their unborn child’s future teeth. But it’s certainly not too late to introduce calcium-rich foods and beverages after your child is already born.
Some people consider celery a “natural toothbrush.” No, they don’t replace your child’s actual toothbrush, but the fibrous texture of celery and the fact that they’re both crunchy and chewy makes them act like a toothbrush, scrubbing away some of the gunk on your child’s teeth and massaging the gums. This alone makes celery the perfect edible tool to benefit the tooth health of your baby!
Its essential vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin C are also great for the teeth.
But truth be told, celery is one of those foods that children either love or hate. Some children love raw celery. Others prefer it prepared as “ants on a log.” This involves spreading the crevice of raw celery with peanut butter or cream cheese and then pressing raisins down the center. It’s a fun and tasty way to get kiddos to eat their celery! Or, having them dip their sticks in ranch or another dip can also work wonders in many cases. In the end, celery is no doubt a healthy food for babies and their oral health.
Nuts and Seeds
Some people think nuts and seeds are bad for the teeth due to their usual crunchy nature and the fact that some seeds and nuts are small enough to get caught between the teeth. In reality, they offer numerous health benefits that can do your child’s pearly whites good.
The texture of these good-for-you foods helps remove plaque that would otherwise lead to tartar buildup and/or the development of cavities in your youngster. Not to mention, these tiny but mighty foods can encourage the body to remain in a more alkaline state. As a result of this proper balance, your child’s immune system will be better equipped to fight against oral bacteria and inflammation.
Nuts and seeds of all sorts (e.g., sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.) aren’t always easy to get into our young children’s diets. However, they’re easy to sneak into other foods like yogurt (which we previously mentioned is also good for your child’s teeth). Offer your child different types of seeds and nuts, salt and unsalted, and prepared in different ways. If your child hates whole walnuts, maybe they’ll be more likely to eat them in smaller pieces, roasted with salt, or served in vanilla ice cream or banana nut bread. The options are endless!
Let’s face it, many children are picky when it comes to leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and cabbage. But it should be known to parents that leafy greens are phenomenal tooth-healthy foods for babies.
For instance, spinach and kale contain high levels of calcium. As many know, calcium is imperative for bone health. (Yes, teeth are bones too!) That being said, spinach and kale can help promote strong teeth in your kiddo.
But probably your biggest concern right now as a parent is, how can you get your child to eat more leafy greens?
Consider these tips:
- Mix greens into your child’s normal meals (e.g., collard greens in mac-n-cheese).
- Offer them in smoothie or juice form.
- Serve them sauteed with butter and/or basic spices like salt and pepper.
- Give them to your child in a salad with a dressing they particularly love.
- Hide them in a soup or stew.
- Feature them in a pasta dish. (Ever try spinach-stuffed ravioli? To die for!)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! And you bet that even your son or daughter’s breakfast can involve tooth-healthy components. Eggs are a prime example of a breakfast item that’s great for your kid’s developing teeth.
Eggs, a favorite of many children, contains vitamin D, vitamin K2, and phosphorous, which are essential for teeth. Just the protein content alone in eggs can make the teeth, jaw, and gums all strong and healthy. Better yet, eggs are leaner in terms of fat and calories when compared to their meat counterpart.
Fortunately, most parents have no problem getting their solid food-eating baby to consume eggs. Serve them scrambled, in omelet form, boiled, or fried (whatever your child prefers best). A little seasoning like salt and pepper or even the addition of ketchup can make this food more tolerable for the picky.
To give your kiddo an extra boost of good oral health, scramble their eggs with milk for extra creaminess (and added calcium). Also, consider adding cheese and even mix in spinach for even more calcium goodness.
Other Ways to Boost the Tooth Health of Your Baby
Apart from considering tooth-healthy foods for babies to give to your little one as they first begin to eat solids, there are other things you can do to boost their oral health.
Brushing your child’s teeth and gums twice daily is critical. Yes, they’re still young, but the moment a tooth begins to erupt, it’s time to bust out the baby toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste.
As your kid develops two teeth in a row, you can then start flossing daily.
Yes, it’s also prime time to get your child to their very first dental appointment.
All of these things can help your infant achieve the prettiest smile possible. Not only that, but their pearly whites will be as healthy as they can be. If you care about the tooth health of your baby, you will do whatever it takes to improve their oral health from the get-go. The best time to start is now!