It can be difficult to determine when your child may be ready for solid foods. As pediatric dentists, we are here to help guide you on how best to introduce new foods into your child’s diet and set them up for long-term dental health.
Is Your Child Ready for Solid Foods?
For most children, the recommended time to begin feeding them solid foods starts around the age of six months. However, it is important to note that there is no definite right time. We strongly recommend consulting with your child’s pediatrician to determine if your child is ready to begin eating solid foods.
Other signs your child may be ready include being able to
- Grasps small objects and bring them towards their mouth
- Hold their head up and sit without needing help
- Swallow food without pushing it out of their mouth
Learning to eat solids is a gradual process, it can take time for your child to become used to eating solid foods, so it is important to continue feeding your child formula or breast milk.
How Does Your Child’s Early Diet Affect Your Oral Health?
Introducing new foods and textures into your child’s diet helps them to develop important oral motor skills. The act of chewing aids in proper facial and jaw development so that your child can grow into a happy and healthy smile.
How To Begin
Though we know that sugary foods and drinks should be avoided, knowing the right foods that are safe for your baby’s teeth may not be as well known.
It is recommended to start with carefully washed and cooked vegetables and fruits. These foods should be soft enough that you can easily squish them between your fingers. Cut them into finger-sized portions so they are large enough that the baby cannot force the entire piece of food into their mouth and is easy for your child to hold.
Feed your child one food at a time and monitor for their reaction to determine if any allergies are present.
Foods To Avoid
Several foods can be unsafe for your child to consume at an early age. At the age of six months, when parents begin introducing solid foods to their children, their child’s immune system is still developing and can be sensitive to certain foods.
Foods to avoid include honey (both cooked and uncooked) or unpasteurized foods such as juices and dairy products. Foods that are oddly shaped may also pose a choking hazard such as nuts or grapes.
As your child begins exploring the world and trying new foods, it is important to remember to take care of their oral health, even if they don’t have many teeth. If your child doesn’t have any teeth, remember to gently wipe their gums with a soft, clean washcloth after eating. Once your child’s teeth begin to erupt, it’s time to start brushing their teeth with an appropriately sized child toothbrush and ADA-approved toothpaste.
We encourage parents and caregivers to schedule their child’s first dental appointment once teeth start to appear or by the age of one. For more information on introducing solid foods into your child’s diet or to schedule an appointment, contact Children’s Dentistry of San Diego today.