- Offer developmentally appropriate foods so your child can learn how to safely chew and enjoy his food.
- Chewing is the first step in digestion.
- Gradually introducing textures that are age-appropriate to avoid choking and other negative experiences.
With each new food your Toddler tries, he’s developing the ability to figure out the best way to handle different textures, sizes and shapes of food. While he’s practicing his chewing and eating skills, it’s your job to keep him safe by providing developmentally appropriate foods at the right time.
The importance of chewing
Who would have thought that chewing accomplishes so much?
- Stimulates muscles in his jaw that are responsible for breaking down food.
- Makes swallowing easier because food is in smaller pieces.
- Allows food to be mixed with saliva before reaching the stomach.
- Releases flavors that tell your child “this tastes good” or “this isn’t my favorite flavor.”
Chewing gets food ready for digestion, but — just as important — tells your child what a food tastes like.
The right food at the right time
Introducing new textures, shapes and sizes of food will be based on your child’s individual ability. Choking is always a consideration for Toddlers, so be sure you’re offering foods that are developmentally appropriate.
When bringing in new textures, timing is important. Offer a range of textures gradually. If you offer too many new textures at once, he might reject the foods (too much, too soon) and you risk him choking.
It’s also important to not wait too long before you begin introducing new textures, since you might find it more challenging for your child to accept new textures.
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