Specialists in medical fields caution and advice mothers  against forcing solid foods on teething babies, warning that it could lead to choking hazards.

Mother’s Should Not Force Solid Food on Babies – Experts

Specialists in medical fields caution and advice mothers  against forcing solid foods on teething babies, warning that it could lead to choking hazards.

The experts noted that babies can be resistant to change in their diet, especially during teething which can cause frustration and anxiety for both the baby and the mother.

According to them, forcing solids on a baby that is teething can delay the process of tooth eruption.

According to a health website, WebMD, baby teeth usually start to appear around nine months of age, but that time can range from three to 12 months.

However, it noted that teething can be uncomfortable for some babies and may make them a bit upset and bad-tempered.

During an exclusive  interview with PUNCH Healthwise, a paediatrician at the Federal Medical Centre, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr. Tunji Olabode noted that many babies are not ready for solid foods during teething, warning that forcing it on them can lead to gagging, choking and vomiting.

According to him, a baby may not be ready for solid food at this age and is unable to digest it properly, adding that this can lead to digestive issues, such as constipation or diarrhea.

The expert stressed that it is important to let the baby’s natural tooth eruption process take its course, and not to try to speed it up by forcing solids.

He further said it is best to follow a baby’s lead when it comes to eating solids and to wait until the baby is developmentally ready.

Furthermore, the paediatrician explained, “Signs that a baby may be ready for solid food include the ability to sit up unassisted, good head and neck control, and an interest in eating.

“Forcing solids on a baby is never a good idea, but it’s especially risky during teething.

“This can lead to several problems including difficulty chewing and swallowing, digestive issues, and disrupted tooth eruption. Instead, parents should follow the baby’s lead and wait until the baby is developmentally ready for solids.

“It is also important to consult with a paediatrician before introducing any new food to a baby’s diet.

“It is important to remember that teething can be a difficult time for both the baby and parents but there are many ways to soothe a teething baby.”

Speaking on some natural ways to soothe a teething baby, the physician added, “One common method is to use a cold washcloth or teething ring. The cold temperature can help to numb the gums and provide relief. Some parents also find that massaging the baby’s gums with a clean finger or a small piece of clean gauze can be soothing.

“Another common method is to offer the baby something to chew on, such as a piece of soft food like a banana or peeled cucumber. This can help to relieve the pressure on the gums and provide some distraction from the discomfort.

“It is also important to remember that every baby is different and will develop at their own pace.

“If you do decide to introduce solids to your teething baby, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, start with small amounts of food and watch for any signs of discomfort or allergic reaction.

“Second, choose foods that are soft and easy to swallow. Third, avoid giving your baby anything hard or sharp, as this could injure the gums. And finally, continue to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby regularly, as this is still the best source of nutrition.”

On his part, a dental specialist, Dr. Ahmed Ismail said teething babies may develop symptoms like redness, thumb sucking, gum rubbing, loss of appetite, crying, increased salivation, runny nose, irritability, and fever.

The oral expert noted that teething could impact the intake of solid diets and inflict pain on babies with swollen or red gum.

“It is relative in children. In some, teething could impact the intake of solid diets, causing some distress and pain to their swollen or red gum while in others, it has no impact on their intake of solid foods. In fact, it could be a way of relieving their pain as a result of counter-pressure on the rising (erupting) tooth.

“Refusing food while teething is normal and there is no need to forcefully feed the child. So parents shouldn’t be worried about loss of weight because as soon as the phase ends, they gain back their lost weight.

“However, it is important for baby caregivers to ensure the child is hydrated by making an effort to breastfeed and give water after 6 months of age.

“Also they should try to introduce new food with enthusiasm. I would like to add that baby caregivers should avoid giving the child medications like tetracycline or herbal concoctions as these can result in intrinsic teeth discolouration.

On what parents can do to help babies during the teething process, Ismail advised, “Curdle and hug them at times of distress and discomfort

“Parents should distract them from their pain by singing and playing with them. They can also use acetaminophen or Ibuprofen in continuous distress and pain.

“There can be light massaging or rubbing of the gum with a clean finger. Give them non-sugary chilled food (soft or hard) for chewing.”

Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Pediatrics, found that forcing solid foods on children before they are developmentally ready can lead to health risks.

In carrying out the research, a group of children were followed from birth to age five, and it was discovered that those introduced to solid foods before they were ready, were more likely to be overweight by age five.

In addition to the increased risk of obesity, the researchers also found that forcing solid foods on children before they are ready was associated with a greater risk of eating disorders. This includes behaviours such as overeating, emotional eating, and using food as a reward or punishment.

The study also noted that these children were more likely to have a lower self-regulation score, which measures their ability to control their emotions and behaviour.