For parents, the first year of their baby’s life is the most exciting. This is because each month of the year is associated with a milestone that is of great importance both for the infant and their parents.
One such milestone is the baby’s introduction to solid foods which is often a challenging task for many mothers and fathers. The reason for that is because going from a purely liquid diet to a solid diet may not be as smooth as you expect it to be. Part of introducing your child to solid foods means teaching them how to chew which for some infants may prove to be a bit difficult to do.
Fortunately, there are several practices you can try out to help you learn how to teach baby to chew. By employing them, your child will be able to master the art of chewing in no time and join you at the dinner table sooner than you think.
Consider your child’s age
Generally, babies are ready to learn how to chew and swallow food around the age of six months. Some signs you can watch out for include your child’s ability to sit up independently or with minimal support and hold their head up, having increased their weight and no longer using their tongue to push food out.
In addition, there are other skills that babies need to develop around this age which will also help them master the art of chewing. Some factors that influence a child’s ability to chew are their extrusion reflex, gag reflex and teething.
Serve foods of different flavors and textures
Part of the process of teaching your little bundle of joy how to chew is serving them foods of different flavors and textures. This can make the transition from a liquid diet to solid foods much easier because you will still be feeding your baby smooth textures such as soft fruits, purees and rice cereal that resemble those of breast milk, but are a little thicker.
After doing this, you can then move on to mashed foods such as a banana or cooked vegetables as they may have tiny chunks which will require your baby to chew and use its jaw muscles.
Use teething toys
While most parents use teething toys to alleviate the symptoms of sore gums in babies, these toys are actually great for teaching infants how to chew. With their help, your baby will be able to adjust to the smooth and rough textures they may find in various foods, assisting them in mastering the skill of chewing.
You can give these toys to your child as early as three or four months so they can build strength, develop their tongue and jaw muscles and be ready for the real thing. Make the toys more appealing by dipping the teether into baby food for them to lick off.
No matter if you share mealtime with your baby or not, you should use the opportunity to demonstrate chewing to them as infants tend to watch and imitate their parents. To show them, you will need to put a little piece of food in your mouth at a time and dramatically chew for them.
While you are doing this, make sure you also teach them to eat with their mouth closed and to hold on to the food for a little bit longer. The latter is very important as it helps them improve their digestion.
Because for some babies mastering the skill of chewing is a bit challenging, many parents are likely to become frustrated. However, it is important that you remain patient and try out different methods until you find the one that works the best for your child.
Even if you notice that your baby doesn’t like a specific food, don’t get discouraged. It may be just a phase which may pass in a few days so you can try again later. In fact, that is why you should introduce new food at a time so your baby can grow used to its taste and texture.
It is no secret that teaching a baby how to chew may be overwhelming for some parents. The good thing is there are several methods you can try out to help your little bundle of joy master this skill. From using teething tools to demonstrating, choose the practice that best suits your baby and make their transition from liquid to solid foods much easier.
For more information, refer to our post and use it as a guide to help your child learn how to chew.