I love the saying “babies don’t need much.”
I only wish I had heard those four words while I was filling my Target shopping cart with too many onesies, swaddles, baby monitors, nail clippers, shampoos, and pacifiers when I was pregnant for the first time.
I blame Pinterest.
If I could go back in time, I would certainly do things differently. I would focus on me being the only thing that my baby needed.
As a functional dentist, I am faced every day with poor airway, sleep, and oral health in children. So what can you do as a new mom to set your baby up for a lifetime of health? Here are five things I believe babies need for the best outcome.
- Breastfeeding. And not just to be nourished by that liquid gold. The act of breastfeeding- the pressure of the tongue pressed to the roof of the mouth- is what forms the roof of the mouth, grows the jaws, and widens the airway. Breastfeeding is the best gift you can give your baby! If things aren’t going well, check in with a lactation consultant. If your baby seems fussy at the breast, it could be a sign of tension in the body, from a tongue tie or other fascia in the body. Don’t give up easily!
- A clear nose. Babies’ nasal passages are so narrow that the slightest sign of boogers can make them feel congested and unable to breathe well. Mouth breathing is a predictor of poor jaw growth and dental decay, so keep your little love’s nose clear with an electric nasal aspirator.
- Open cups. As soon as six months old, your baby can start to practice with an open cup, like this adorable Tiny Cup I keep in my market. Skip the sippy cups- they can cause poor jaw development and low tongue tone, which can lead to mouth breathing. While it may not be spill proof, it is functional dentist approved!
- The MyoMunchee. I love this simple tool for developing your baby’s oral cavity. It’s also great for helping wean off pacifiers and thumb-sucking.
- An easy toothbrush. Introduce your baby to good oral hygiene by making brushing enjoyable and fun! I love the finger toothbrushes and training toothbrushes I keep in my market- the silicone bristles are soft and soothing on baby’s gums and new teeth. No toothpaste necessary, just add water and you’re good to go.
Your sweet little baby is much more low maintenance than you think. They need mama and a few extra things to get set up for a healthy mouth and airway. You’ll look back and thank yourself for investing in these things when your child sleeps, breathes, and functions beautifully.