Did you know that you can introduce your baby to a breastmilk or formula popsicle as early as 4 months? Here are some tips for starting your little one on frozen pops!
Breastmilk or formula popsicles can be an exciting sensory experience while offering age-appropriate nutrition at the 4-month mark. It’s also a great way to practice self-feeding before transitioning to solids (at 6 months + showing signs of readiness).
Problems with Traditional Popsicles
However, most popsicles in the market are sized for the mouths and hands of toddlers, not infants. Let’s tackle some of the problems and find a solution for parents:
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 increase gagging and choking risk.
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.
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.
As a pediatric feeding specialist, I designed the ezpz Tiny Pops popsicle mold 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) as well as 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 for 4-Month-Olds
There are many developmental benefits to making homemade popsicles for your little one.
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.
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 and possibly decreasing pain. In addition, the frozen sensory bumps on the Tiny Pop provide increased oral awareness and stimulation.
As baby independently self-feeds with a cold 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.
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 breast milk dates easy!
Did this inspire you to try breastmilk or formula popsicles with your 4+ month-old? If you use the Tiny Pops with your baby, don’t forget to tag me in your pics! Get my attention on social by tagging me in your pics (@MsDawnSLP). Seeing cute babies always makes my day!
P.S. If you are getting ready to start solids, be sure to snag both the Tiny Pops and the First Foods Set, which earns you FREE shipping! *Spend $50 to get free shipping
Gray,L. et al (2002). Breastfeeding Is Analgesic in Healthy Newborns. Pediatrics, 109 (4) 590-593.
Sciortino, K. F., Liss, J. M., Case, J. L., Gerritsen, K. G. M., & Katz, R. C. (2003). Effects of Mechanical, Cold, Gustatory, and Combined Stimulation to the Human Anterior Faucial Pillars. Dysphagia, 18(1), 16–26.