Baby food. It’s easy, simple, and time-saving. It’s not always friendly on the pocket, but preparing fresh food for babies all the time isn’t a reality for all households.
These are basic dos and don’ts when feeding babies, such as avoiding too much sugar and not giving them honey and water until you receive a go signal from the pediatrician.
Heeding these reminders is crucial since babies’ digestive and immune systems are still developing. While adults can consume honey and water without any problems, for infants, they can be unsafe.
That being said, let's talk about the truth about baby food—the ingredients it may contain according to studies, and how they can impact your child's oral health and overall well-being.
What are the Potentially Harmful Ingredients in Some Baby Food Products?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s no need to add sugar and salt to baby food1, so it pays to read the label when buying food pouches.
With the extensive marketing around baby food, it’s easy to assume that these grab-and-go options are healthy for children. But if there’s too much sugar or questionable ingredients, then they may not be as beneficial as the ads claim.
These substances can badly affect their teeth and general health. Aside from added sugars, some baby food may also contain traces of pesticides2 and can be high in salt and cause hypertension3.
Baby food is intentionally sweet and flavorful because children have an innate preference for sweet food. It’s not surprising to see your baby beam at the taste of sweet food. But as per research4, children’s fondness for sweets may cause them to overeat sweet foods.
Not all baby food is the same, though. Take extra time to do research on safer alternatives. It’s true that freshly-made baby food is tough to sustain, but giving your baby fresh fruits or veggies, either stewed or mashed, whenever possible will always be better than reaching for processed foods.
How Can Added Sugars Affect Your Baby’s Teeth and General Health?
Sugars or sweeteners added to food are called added sugars, while natural options include sugars from fruits. Baby food can contain added sugars, which are included during the manufacturing process.
Babies require a variety of nutrients and vitamins to support their developing bodies. And processed foods don’t offer enough of these healthy components. They may be high in sugar and calories, which can lead to health problems such as tooth decay and obesity.
Starting with healthy eating habits early can help children maintain a healthy weight and prevent long-term health problems. Even baby teeth can develop cavities. So reading food labels can go a long way toward protecting their smile.
It helps to reduce the amount of or avoid added sugar when preparing their food. Checking labels is a good practice too. Watch out for terms that connote sugar, such as fructose, glucose, and lactose. And avoid giving your baby sweetened juices or beverages.
Introduce bitter food or other food textures and tastes to them even if they don’t seem to like it. You don’t have to give them a spoonful or full serving. A little taste from time to time can help if you do it persistently.
And don’t rush the process. You may start by trying one healthy food option until they become more familiar and accommodating with it. It’s normal to feel frustrated and pause. But get back up and try again to see your child enjoy a wider variety of healthy food options.
Do You Feel It’s Time to Take Your Baby to the Dentist?
As soon as your baby turns one or once you see their teeth erupt, you may start taking them to the dentist.
Their first visits will consist more of consultations and monitoring to ensure proper mouth and jaw development. This is also a perfect time to discuss your concerns, such as mouth cleaning for babies.
The dentist can also offer recommendations on baby food options that are safe for their teeth and overall health. To consult a dentist in Red Deer, Alberta, about proper dental care habits for babies, get in touch with us at Image Dental Care.
Our dental office offers a wide range of dentistry services for children. We’re happy to answer related questions and assist you in booking your child's first dental visit.
- Get the Facts: Added Sugars, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Study on pesticide residues in apples, apple-based baby food, and their behaviour during processing using fast GC–MS multiresidue analysis
- Hypertension and Death from Consumption of Processed Baby Foods by Rats
- The sweetness and bitterness of childhood: Insights from basic research on taste preferences