Change can be a mouthful

  • Your baby is changing in many ways at this stage—her mouth is, too!
  • Babies in the Crawler stage are gaining better control of their mouth, which helps with eating skills.
  • Gradually adding textures in foods helps your Crawler practice her eating skills.

Around 8 months, your baby will be ready to gradually add new foods with interesting textures, such as chopped table foods, to her diet.  Though she may have few teeth (or maybe none), she is already learning how to mash and chew baby foods and take the next step in feeding. 

What’s going on?

Many of the changes that are happening while learning to chew take coordination, such as crawling. Not only can your baby coordinate moving her left and right sides in unison (think about alternating arms and legs on opposite sides to crawl), but she’s also learning to coordinate the changes inside her mouth: 

  • Your baby's gag reflex will relocate to be farther back on her tongue, allowing for more food exploration without this reflex being activated.
  • Your baby can control tongue movements to the left and right side of the mouth (rather than only forward and back).
  • A chewing motion starts to emerge—baby's jaw can move up and down and in a circular motion with much more efficiency in response to something in her mouth.
  • Baby teeth may begin to appear in the front part of her mouth (top and bottom).

All of these changes mean your baby is able to take on more advanced textures—and successfully mash and chew these new foods.

The connection to feeding

Texture in baby food is important because it encourages your baby to work on her mashing and chewing skills. And all that exercise helps the muscles in her mouth get ready for speech and language. It’s important to introduce more food texture, including chunkier and chopped foods, at this stage. Research has shown that when babies don't get food with advanced textures between 8 and 12 months, they may be less likely to accept new food textures as they transition to table foods.  

Is your baby ready to chew foods?

You may think your baby isn’t ready for chunky solids because she doesn’t have teeth to chew them. The truth is, mashing and chewing chunkier textures actually helps your baby’s teeth come in and builds the mouth and jaw muscles for eating and speaking. Choking is always a concern when feeding infants and toddlers, but if you follow a few rules, you can limit the chance of this happening.

Ideal foods to serve up

Here is a list of baby foods that you may want to introduce during the Crawler stage:

  • Baby food that's developmentally appropriate for this stage, like GERBER® 3RD FOODS® Lil' Bits™ recipes, which have the right-sized soft pieces of fruits and vegetables.
  • Soft and bite-sized pieces of chopped, cooked fruits and vegetables (canned fruit in water works well also).
  • Mashed, cooked beans, and tofu.
  • Bread, toast, soft tortilla strips, crackers (in small, bite-sized pieces).
  • Infant cereal like GERBER® LIL’ BITS® Infant Cereal.
  • GERBER® Puffs.
  • Well-cooked pasta in small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Plain or smooth, fruited yogurt.

You may also want to add these textures, as your baby is ready:

  • Fresh, chopped, soft fruit like bananas or grated apple without the skin.
  • Cooked vegetables in bite-sized pieces.
  • Soft, chopped, cooked meats and fish in bite-sized pieces.
  • Cooked eggs in bite-sized pieces.
  • Mixed dishes like casseroles in small, bite-sized pieces.

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