For reasons of efficiency - it goes faster and it is easier - very often in nursery schools, the trend is towards mixes. And smooth soup, a favourite dish for babies when diversifying, often benefits older children. This damages their future dentition.
Just look at the family plates and canteens for a moment and you will be surprised to see that they contain minced meat, purees and fruit compotes. These foods have a significant effect on children's teeth. Orthodontists are the first to notice this and are currently raising the alarm. Today's children's jaws are no longer big enough to accommodate all their permanent teeth. They often have to extract teeth to rebalance their dentition, but any extraction has long-term consequences.
Eating habits play a major role in preventing mouth and teeth-related issues but also in other pathologies the child can develop later as an adult. Indeed, when looking into it on a deeper level, teeth and a good position of the jaws seem to impact on back pain and cranial pain, with a 35% of patients suffering from back pain showing an imbalance in their dental occlusion. Therefore we recommand to offer your child firm textures, and small pieces to chew, thus helping prevent them from resorting to orthodontia and back pain in the future.
From breastfeeding to diversification
This growth of the jaw begins with breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed, because of the suction on the nipple, benefit from normal gum growth. The correct implantation of the teeth will be facilitated. The palate will have a normal U-shaped evolution unlike that of bottle-fed babies who will see their palate evolve into a V-shape favouring malocclusions*, dental mispositioning and periodontal disease. One more argument in favour of breastfeeding.
Around the age of 6 months, diversification begins, smooth purées are proposed here because babies need to perfect their swallowing and knowledge of the spoon. But a few weeks later, it's time to trust them, as the false roads go away, the very small pieces may appear. A mixed or too soft diet does not help stimulate the growth of children's jaws, they should be offered something else and not abuse the facilities that food manufacturers offer young parents through small jars and other prepared dishes that should only be used as a backup.
Our tips for introducing the little ones to textures
Texture changes must be introduced between 7 and 8 months. Of course, it is best to use homemade preparations which will be systematically firmer. Vegetables can be offered "al dente" to older children.
- Mixing the textures is one way to help the child accept them, just finely grind the mashed vegetables and less finely grind the meat one day, and do the opposite the next day. If the habits are not established early enough, the child will suffer from "blender syndrome" and will refuse the pieces because he only knows the smooth and melting texture. Acceptance of meat will also be facilitated. Small hamsters that keep their meat until snack time should disappear to make room for young children who simply enjoy the meal.
- Propose a slightly hard piece of bread at around 8 months of age under supervision but without apprehension...it's bringing him a food to chew, he learns the textures and gets to know food pieces.
- For meats, prefer roasts to ground, there must be a resistance under the teeth.
- For the compote, the blender stays in the cupboard, the fork or the masher will keep small pieces, even better, give the raw fruit cut thin.
- The molars of the young child appear between 12 and 18 months of age, they must be used, by preparing meals that the child has to chew. The adult who accompanies the child must encourage him/her with words. Mashes will therefore be offered sparingly to toddler and even more so to adults who need to take advantage of all their teeth! The meat will be cut with a knife and not in the mixer bowl.
- Around 1 year old, starters also appear on the menu, raw vegetables bring new sensations, grated carrots are resistant in the mouth! Here, no obligation to finish your plate, besides the quantities are negligible, a small tablespoon, it is a discovery, later the starter will be considered as a whole component of the menu.
- The child's willingness to eat alone will also help the learning of the pieces, because it is very difficult to eat green bean puree alone, but the little fingers will be agile to take them one by one when they are simply cut.
- The snack is still an opportunity to give them something crunchy just a piece of baguette-chocolate, the magic duo... even those who can't chew will!
*Malocclusion: Incorrect positioning of the teeth of the upper jaw in relation to the teeth of the lower jaw when the mouth is closed.
[Article written by : Sylvie Guillou, docteur en chimie, www.secali.com]
FIRST PUBLISHED 16 FEBRUARY 2016 under the title "Varier les textures des aliments, c'est bon pour les mâchoires !"