Chewing food isn’t easy for all children. If you’ve started to diversify, or you’re just getting ready for it, but you’ve noticed that your baby has trouble chewing his food, this article is for you.

A baby’s first year of life brings along many changes, especially food-related ones. Parents have to be extremely patient in order to help the child get used to the new taste of solid food, to its texture and size. It’s recommended that by the time the baby reaches one year old, he is already able to eat food that’s more solid than puree. To reach this stage, parents can start at around 7 or 8 months old, by getting him used to grated fruits and vegetables.

When can you start feeding your baby solid food?

The best time is to start is when his first teeth start to appear. Aside from the fact that his first teeth will be useful for when he needs to chew the vegetables, the fact that he will have to chew them will be of real help for his painful gums. But since some babies don’t get any teeth until they’re 8 or 9 months old, you can start even earlier.

How to stimulate chewing food

– The first change in the baby’s diet depends on his parents, especially on his mother! They have to be calm and patient! The child shouldn’t be forced to accept solid food or grated food. And if at first he refuses it, then he is not ready for this step. In a week perhaps he might want to start chewing on his own and try this new experience. This step of diversifying depends a lot on his development and on how patient his parents are.

– One advice that helps most mothers is to not shift suddenly from purees to solid food. This change should come with time, by increasingly thickening the puree. If at first you’re using a blender, in time you can start mushing the food with a fork; that way, parts of the fruits, vegetables or meat can remain larger and more solid, but still accessible for the baby to accept.

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Alternate purees with pieces of solid food. Reduce the thickness and the quantity of the puree and offer, in exchange, food in larger pieces. That way you can make sure that the baby eats exactly as he should and that he learns, at the same time, how to chew his food.

– Around the age of 7 months, the child grows more independent and he usually choses to feed himself. If parents notice this behaviour, it’s recommended that they encourage the baby to eat on his own, either with his hands or with his spoon. Small pieces of fruit, vegetables or meat will be a pleasure to play with. He won’t just discover a new type of food texture, but through this repetitive game of grabbing and carrying to his mouth his fine motor skills will be also stimulated.

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The power of example plays an important part. Set the baby’s chair at the table and eat your meals together! Therefore, the baby will notice everyone else eating and he will be encouraged to do the same.

– When he’s older and more able to understand, explain to him that chewing will help his teeth grow as healthy and strong as those of a crocodile. Encourage him to eat slowly and to chew his food many times before swallowing, as well as not to accumulate too much food in his mouth. This way, you can prevent chocking.

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