Dental Care is Self-Care: Dental Health Tips for New Moms and Babies
by Amanda Henderson
As a new mom, dental care isn’t the first thing on your mind. You have a baby to feed, diapers to change, and if you’re lucky, a nap to take. It’s easy for a new mom’s dental health to suffer in the postpartum period, but dental hygiene isn’t only important for your own health. It also affects your child.
Your Dental Health and Your Child
Every time you share utensils or use your mouth to clean a pacifier that fell on the floor, you share oral bacteria. If cavity-causing bacteria is present, that bacteria passes to your child’s mouth, increasing your child’s risk of cavities. By taking care of your own dental health during and after pregnancy, you protect your child’s health too.
Postpartum Dental Care for New Moms
Now that there’s an infant in the house, life no longer fits into neat routines. However, it’s still important to find time for dental hygiene. Take two minutes twice a day while your baby is napping to brush your teeth, and floss once a day.
Don’t avoid brushing and flossing while dealing with pregnancy gingivitis. Although your gums are tender, diligent and gentle cleaning is the best way to manage inflamed gums.
Be mindful of foods high in sugar and carbs, which stick to your teeth and promote decay. When you need a snack, reach for fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and nuts instead. When you do eat or drink something sweet, brush your teeth afterward.
Your Child’s Dental Health
Now you know to avoid sharing saliva if you have cavities, but what else can you do to care for your child’s dental health? From the time your child is a newborn, practice these good dental health habits:
- Wipe infants’ gums with a moist cloth after feedings.
- Start brushing children’s teeth twice daily as soon as teeth erupt.
- Don’t send children to bed with a bottle or fill bottles with sweet drinks like fruit juice or soda.
- Before age three, use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. After three, use a pea-sized drop of toothpaste.
- Make brushing and flossing a positive experience to encourage good dental health habits.
- Schedule a dentist visit within six months of a child’s first tooth.
More Postpartum Self-Care Tips
Self-care keeps you physically and mentally healthy after your child is born. Without it, it’s harder to be the person and parent you want to be, and issues like postpartum depression are less manageable.
Self-care looks different when you have a new baby. Instead of days out with friends, it’s the little things like a hot shower while your baby is napping and getting outside on a nice day. These are more self-care strategies new moms swear by:
- Use a hands-free pumping bra while pumping. The ability to multitask while pumping is a lifesaver! With a wearable pump you can pay bills, clean bottles, or knock another task off your list while pumping, freeing up more me-time later.
- Sit down for a healthy meal every day. This is easier said than done, but your body needs nourishment now more than ever. Order groceries to your door if you need to, but make time for eating real food.
- Take time off. It’s hard to spend time away from a new baby, but it’s important to connect with your partner and yourself during this new phase of life. You’ll feel better if you trust your sitter 100 percent, so use a site that lets you run a background check, like Sittercity, and follow the hiring process to find someone you feel comfortable with.
- Accept that things won’t be perfect. Sometimes you’ll have to choose between sleep and laundry. Choose sleep. The laundry will be there later, but you can’t get your health back. It’s ok if life looks a little messy right now as long as everyone is cared for.When all your energy is focused on a new baby, it’s easy to forget there’s another important person in the equation: You. When your health suffers, so does the well-being of your child. So the next time you’re thinking of heading to bed without brushing your teeth or running errands instead of taking that nap you desperately need, reconsider.
Image via Rawpixel