Feeding babies and toddlers can be stressful for parents. Kids are fidgety, throw or spit up their food, refuse to eat, cry, make faces—creating a fun mealtime environment of high blood pressure!
Let’s face it, we all worry…is my baby getting enough nutrients? Is she swallowing correctly? How do I keep her from becoming a picky eater? The anxiety is endless (!!) which is why we get so many questions on the topic.
Rule #1 Before we jump in, remember that babies have been learning how to eat food for generations and they don’t really need much help from us to accomplish it! Patience will be a theme in many of our answers.
How do I teach my toddler to gum her food before she swallows?
You don’t teach her, she’ll learn on her own.
As babies mature, their mouth and tongue muscles also mature. They figure out on their own how to move food around in their mouths and then swallow it. Babies don’t need teeth to bite into food—they can gum just about anything (just like the old folks who take their dentures out at dinner time!). The process evolves over time with practice…so be patient. At this stage your job is to give your baby time and opportunity to practice.
How can I get my son to eat stuff like chicken when he has no teeth?
You can make it easier for your son by starting with softer, mashed or shredded food items. Foods like chicken salad or shredded meat are easier for your son to move around in his mouth and swallow. He doesn’t need teeth to break it down just make sure to start with small pieces.
Ari Brown, MD