Popsicles for Baby: When Can You Start?
Did you know that you can introduce your baby to a breastmilk or formula popsicle as early as 4-6 months of age? Here are some tips for starting your little one on this homemade frozen treat!
Age Range: Breastmilk or formula popsicles can be an exciting sensory experience while offering age-appropriate nutrition. It’s also a great way to practice self-feeding before transitioning to solids (at 6 months + showing the signs of readiness).
However, most popsicles in the market are sized for the mouths and hands of toddlers, not infants. Let’s tackle some of the problems as well as a solution for parents.
- Large Mold – Most popsicles have a large mold that makes the popsicle too wide and too long for a baby's tiny oral cavity. Because of this developmentally inappropriate feature, parents must hold and place the popsicle inside the baby’s mouth. This is contradictory to a baby-led approach to feeding and may actually increase gagging and choking risk.
- Narrow Handle – Most popsicles have narrow handles that are difficult for babies to hold independently. Thus, babies will drop the popsicle and lose interest. Parents eventually have to hold and place the popsicle in the baby’s mouth (see above risks) or give up on this critical sensory experience.
- Fillers – Toddler-sized molds are generally 4 ounces (or more), and some parents don’t feel comfortable putting that much hard-earned breastmilk or expensive formula into such a large mold. So, instead, they may fill it with food. This is concerning for 4-month-olds, as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend only breastmilk or formula (not solid food) until the baby is 6 months old.
- Solution: The Tiny Pops – The ezpz Tiny Pops are a popsicle mold designed specifically for infants. They are portion-sized at ½ oz, which is the perfect size for an infant's tiny mouth and tummy! The Tiny Pops can be filled with breastmilk / formula (for 4+ months) and smoothies, purees and more (for 6+ months). The handle of the Tiny Pop is short, fat and round making it easy for baby to grasp and hold independently.
Benefits: There are many developmental benefits for making homemade popsicles for your little one.
- Mouthing – Popsicles can help baby explore their mouth and learn about their environment through mouthing. Generalized mouthing (mouthing at the front of the mouth) occurs between 4-6 months of age. Discriminative mouthing (oral discrimination needed for safe eating and drinking) develops around 6 months of age. Popsicles can provide the perfect texture to bridge the advancement of baby’s mouthing development.
- Sensory – Breastmilk (or formula) popsicles introduce a new temperature and texture for your baby while keeping the taste + color of the liquid consistent. Offering a little novelty while maintaining some familiarity is key for advancing a baby’s sensory development. In addition, the frozen sensory bumps on the Tiny Pop provide increased oral awareness and stimulation.
- Swallowing – As baby independently self-feeds with a popsicle their suck, swallow and breath synchrony can become more coordinated. A lot of feeding therapists use popsicles to help alert and strengthen a baby’s swallow, especially with babies whose swallow may fatigue easily during bottle feedings.
- Feeding – Since the Tiny Pop has the same developmentally appropriate handle as the ezpz Tiny Spoon, baby is simultaneously practicing the foundational movements for utensil use!
- Nutrition – Each Tiny Pop holds ½ an ounce, so it’s easy to keep track of your baby’s popsicle intake. Since the popsicle handle is made from food grade silicone, you can use a dry erase marker to write down the date you made the popsicle on the handle. This makes keeping track of breastmilk dates ezpz!
Did this blog inspire you to try breastmilk or formula popsicles with your little one? If you use our Tiny Pops with your baby don’t forget to send us pics! Get our attention by using our hashtags #ezpzfun #tinypops.
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.