A toddler eating cereal in a highchair

What Foods To Start Baby on First: Healthy Teeth and Gums From the Start

It’s a fun time in every parent’s life when your child starts to indicate they may be ready to make the switch from breastmilk or fortified formula. We're here to help guide you through vital information on foods to include, foods to avoid, and how to set your child up for long-term dental and overall health!

Is Your Child Ready for Solid Foods?

Six months of age is the approximate timeframe when infants start to show signs that they can tolerate eating foods, though there’s no exact right time. Instead, there are indications you can be on alert for that are your infant’s way of telling you that it’s safe to proceed. Your medical professional or pediatrician is a helpful resource if you have concerns if your child is ready or not for this exciting next step.

Some signs your child may be prepared to start trying solid foods include:

  • They’re able to sit up without help and support their own head.
  • They grasp or manipulate small objects with their hands and bring them towards their mouth.
  • They readily swallow food without “pushing it back out.”

Foods to Avoid

Just as important as knowing the right foods to feed your infant for their short and long-term health, you should pay close attention to foods that are potentially unsafe for them to consume. Your child’s immune system is still developing, and they’re still sensitive to some pathogens that are safe for older children and adults.

Foods and drinks to avoid giving your infant may include:

  • Honey (both cooked and uncooked)
  • Unpasteurized items (such as unpasteurized juice or dairy products)
  • Raw or unwashed fruits and vegetables (be sure to cook and wash these)
  • Items that pose a choking hazard (including grapes, nuts, and large chunks of food)

When it comes to food for baby teeth, it’s best to avoid overly sugary or acidic items that could contribute to dental problems. Skip out on overly salty items as well because food preferences can be established during this phase of your child’s life, according to MyPlate. Luckily, the preferences you help your child build now could set them up for success through childhood and into adulthood.

Infant-Friendly Foods

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that foods you feed your infant should be rich in nutrients, especially iron and zinc. To set your child up for dietary success, choose a variety of foods that introduce your infant to all types of flavors and textures.

It’s a smart idea to supervise your child while they eat and monitor them for potential allergic reactions. According to MyPlate, introducing potential allergens (like soy and tree nuts) simultaneously as other foods may reduce their likelihood of developing an allergy.

Keep reading below, and we’ll outline some top choices to answer the question: “what food is good for baby teeth?”

Baby Cereal

This variety of cereal helps start your child on solid foods as it’s not too flavorful, is easy to portion into smaller bites, and you can serve it easily with a spoon. You can thin and soften the food using formula or breastmilk to varying degrees based on how they tolerate their bites and progress.

Fruits and Vegetables

While these are great bets to start your child out on, be sure to wash them thoroughly to remove bacteria and other pathogens. It's best to start with fruits and veggies that are cooked, pureed, or mashed to ensure you can appropriately alter the size of their bites. These are not only packed with nutrients but great for your child’s teeth.

Keep in mind that you should avoid pieces, whole grapes, and other fruits and veggies that could pose a choking hazard.

Dairy Products

Dairy items like milk, yogurt, and cheese are ideal for first foods (assuming they’re pasteurized, as mentioned above). They contain high calcium and vitamin D levels, are soft, and easy to serve in bite-size portions.

Table Foods

After your little tike has become accustomed to the basic starting foods, they may be ready to advance to table foods. Another sign to watch out for is that their first teeth have erupted, which usually occurs around six months of age. Examples of these include raw (but washed) pieces of fruits or veggies, like celery or apple.

If you ever get overwhelmed, remember that your dental or medical professional is a great resource when it comes to navigating healthy food choices for your child. Avoiding overly sugary foods and emphasizing a varied, nutrient-rich diet will help mold their preferences and set them up for long-term dental success. You’ve done a great job educating yourself on what foods to start your child out with and potential pitfalls to avoid.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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