A healthy mouth and smile begin early in your child’s development.
Breastfeeding, Suckling and Baby’s First Dental Visit
For some new mothers, breastfeeding their newborn can be uncomfortable during the first few days. The good news is the discomfort should not continue much beyond that and the benefit to your child’s wellbeing far outweighs the short-term hardship. If, however you experience continued issues nursing your infant after birth, you may wish to seek assistance from a trained lactation consultant.
A lactation professional has received the specialized training necessary to assist in helping you nurse your infant correctly and comfortably, plus they can offer tips and tricks to make your experience one that further strengthens the bond between mother and infant. Most importantly, if you are experiencing ongoing problems with breastfeeding, a lactation professional can evaluate your infant for physiological issues such as tongue tie. Present at birth, tongue tie is a condition which restricts baby’s tongue range of motion and creates significant difficulty in nursing. While the prevalence of tongue tie is hotly debated, it is purported that anywhere between 3-15% may have the affliction. Because the data is still indeterminate and the level or nature of severity a matter of dispute, the team at Detail Dental Kids highly recommends having a trained lactation consultant evaluate your infant for a tongue tie. If they or you suspect tongue tie could be an issue for your baby, seek consultation from Dr. Sara right away for proper diagnosis and treatment.
You may already know breastfeeding helps baby through optimal nutrition and acquired immunity from mom, as well as promotes bonding and social interactions. But did you know breastfeeding also helps stimulate proper growth, development of the airway and structures of the mouth and face? What’s more, suckling as a foundational skill will later assist your child in development of other oral skills such as chewing, swallowing, and even speaking.
Detail Dental Kids follows the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) guidelines regarding your child’s first dental visit. It is recommended they have their first visit at age 1 and includes evaluation of your child’s development, examination for baby bottle tooth decay, as well as review of oral hygiene and infant feeding practices.
Suckling and oral development
Your baby may not have any teeth but ask any Detail Dental Kids team member and they’ll tell you it’s never too early to start nurturing a healthy smile! Inattentively allowing newborn and infants access to bottles, sippy cups, or frequent nighttime nursing can encourage development of poor longer-term oral habits and allow for development of baby bottle tooth decay. Instead, Dr. Sara suggests parents should avoid these nighttime offerings and gently wipe gums and teeth with a clean cloth to remove and buildup before soothing and lulling baby to sleep.
Pacifiers, fingers and thumb sucking are all habits that may help soothe your child but could cause more long-term harm than short-term benefit. Dr. Sara suggests parents eliminate the use of these items early in their child’s development and look to find other ways to soothe, such as cuddling with a favorite toy or small blanket. Moreover, parents with a child who do take a pacifier or suck their thumb or fingers should gently remove them when their child falls asleep, being sure to close their lips. This encourages nasal breathing and proper tongue placement for development of healthy jaws.
Introducing baby to table foods
Weaning baby from bottle or breast feeding should begin upon recommendation from your pediatrician, however the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that for most children, introducing solid foods should start as early as 6 months. That’s right! Although each child’s readiness is contingent on their own rate of development, there are some key indicators which can help you decide what’s best for your baby.
Detail Dental Kids Tip: Dr. Sara and the team say you should introduce veggies first!!!! Try foods such as peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, and beans to start. If you introduce sweet fruits, it will be difficult to get your child to eat vegetables later. Even if you don’t like veggies yourself, there are important nutrients for your child’s development that are in vegetables.
Signs your baby is ready to try solid foods
- If your baby can sit in a highchair, feeding seat, or an infant seat with good head control.
- If they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem eager to mimic mom or dad.
- When baby has doubled their birth weight (typically at about 4 months) and weighs about 13 pounds or more. It’s worthwhile to note the AAP recommends breastfeeding as the sole nutrition source for the first 6 months and when you do add solids you continue breastfeeding until the end of their first year. They also suggest you ask your pediatrician for supplemental recommendations.
- When baby can move food to and down their throat. Keep in mind…if you offer a spoon of rice cereal, and baby pushes it out of their mouth, and it dribbles onto the chin, they may not know how to move it to the back of the mouth to swallow it just yet. (That’s perfectly normal as they’ve never had anything thicker than breast milk or formula, and this eating thing may take some getting used to.) Parents should try diluting food the first few times; then, gradually thicken the texture back. They may also want to wait a week or so before trying again.