Are you looking for diet and nutrition tips to protect your child’s teeth? Moms and dads, we get it! Life is busy and things moves fast these days--and getting good food into your kiddo’s body isn’t easy. Between virtual learning demands, daycare menus, in school menus, after school programs, playdates, extracurriculars and more, it can be hard to keep a handle on what your kid’s are eating. In fact, managing your kid’s diet can be downright overwhelming, especially when schools, friends, and family may not necessarily have the same dietary views that you do. The best advice we can give you is, control what you can control. Give your kids the best foods you can as often as you can, and try to be okay with the reality that sometimes they are going to get access to stuff you wish they wouldn’t eat. With that being said, we have tried to break it down into 3 main tips to help you teach your kids how to think before they eat.
Sticky is Icky!
Truth, sticky foods do icky things to your teeth. Stickier foods are foods that are higher in carbohydrates, which tend to be processed foods. We know, “processed foods” has become an ugly word, but countless evidence shows that sticky food are more readily broken down by the bacteria in the mouth and can lead to the process of starting decay.
Problematic Foods Include:
Candy & Chocolate
Fruit snacks and gummy vitamins
If your child does eat a sticker food, try to avoid leaving food residue in the mouth for too long. Rinse with water, wipe down the teeth with a clean wet towel, and, if your child is old enough, consider chewing a sugar free gum with Xylitol in it.
Grazing is for Cows!
Guess what parent’s, the recommended 3-2 rule for frequency of eating is a thing—and for a good reason. The best thing you can do for your child is to train them to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks. Let’s face it, kids like to snack, but snacking 3 or more times a day puts your child at a higher risk for cavities. Additionally, constant snacking also tends to lead to “grazing.” Grazing on foods for a prolonged period leads to increased acidity. Have your children sit and eat, and when they are done take the food away. You want to do this because it allows your child’s mouth to recover and help reduce the acid created from the bacteria that can harm your child’s teeth. If your child is constantly eating, your child’s mouth never gets the chance to recover and will remain acidic, which can lead to decay. Leave the grazing to the cows!
I Provide, You Decide
Picky eaters! They’re tough to break. We get it, some children are picky eaters and that is super challenging for parents. For this reason, one of our favorite mottos is, “I provide, you decide.” That means you offer healthy choices and let your child decide from those options! It’s that simple.
Introducing healthier food options early on is a great way to get children excited about eating the right way into adulthood. Overtime, the goal is they eventually start trying the different options, but of course, early on they will likely choose their favorite things. You can also try arranging foods into fun designs (Pinterest is full of ideas) or use fun shapes to make things more appealing.
There is also the question of Juice vs. Whole Fruit. Yes, you guessed it! You should really try and offer whole fruit instead of fruit juice. There is really no good reason to give your child fruit juice, unless your child has specific dietary recommendations from a physician. Get over your fruit fears! It is always better to offer whole fruit rather than its juice form. Consider this, an apple contains all the nutrients and fiber and with less sugar than apple juice. Naturally occurring sugar isn’t your enemy. Processed sugar and added sugar is a much greater problem to worry about and you should focus on limiting that version of sugar. You can also offer your child a smoothie packed with some fresh leafy greens and whole fruit for a tasty and healthy treat! If you find that must give your child juice, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends no more than:
4 oz of juice per day for toddlers age 1-3
4-6 oz for children age 4-6.