Soft foods, if not balanced with hard and chewy foods, can be harmful to the developing jaw in several ways:
1. Lack of Jaw Muscle Development: Chewing hard and chewy foods exercises the jaw muscles, which are essential for proper jaw development. If a child only eats soft foods, their jaw muscles may not develop fully, which can lead to weaker jaw muscles and a weaker jaw structure.
2. Poor Bite Alignment: Eating only soft foods can also affect the development of the teeth, leading to a misaligned bite. The pressure exerted on the teeth when chewing hard and chewy foods helps to stimulate the jawbone, which promotes healthy tooth alignment.
3. Narrow Airway: Eating soft foods can also contribute to the development of a narrow airway. The jawbone provides support for the airway, and if it doesn't develop properly due to a lack of stimulation, the airway may become narrow, leading to breathing problems.
4. Delayed Speech Development: Proper jaw development is also essential for speech development. Weak jaw muscles can affect a child's ability to properly pronounce certain sounds and words and could be a factor in delayed speech development.
It is important to introduce children to a variety of textures and consistencies in their diet, including hard and chewy foods, to promote proper jaw development and overall oral health.
I would encourage you to look at your children’s diet through this new perspective. Look for foods that promote chewing to help develop your child’s jaws and airway. Avoiding the convenience of soft or mushy pre-packaged foods can be very helpful in the long run.
I always say, chewing is the best work out for our jaw!
So, what can you introduce today to promote more chewing? Some of my favorite suggested snacks are apples, carrots and beef jerky. Let me know if you have found other kid favorites that promote healthy jaw development!