As most of you know your child wants to try anything and everything that you are eating at this point! As long as it is not a size they can choke on, feel free to give it to them. The more you incorporate your child into mealtime, the less fussy they will be as an eater in the future!
At 7 months, children are now totally capable of chewing even if they do not have teeth – their gums can do the work! It is called a vertical munching pattern (basically an up and down chew with limited lateral or side-to-side movement). As your child matures at around 12-18 months, they will exhibit a diagonal chew with lateral tongue action and at 18-24 months a rotary chew will be expected (basically a circular chew like adults).
Do not hesitate to allow your kids to get messy and finger feed…. This ends up being helpful with their fine motor skills, especially refining their pincer grasp. Some of my favorites to promote these skills include cut up avocado, sweet potato fries, Baby Puffs, and Mum Mums.
Allow them to assist you with spoon-feeding too! By 12 months, independent feeding will definitely increase and they can begin scooping and bringing the food to their mouth. By 24 months, you should expect total self-feeding as well as use of a fork.
Here is the sequence of types of food your child will gradually begin eating after purees…
SOFT CHEWABLES (6-9 Months) → LUMPY PUREES (9-12 Months) → CHEWABLE FOOD (12-24 Months) → TOUGHER SOLIDS (24 Months and over)
If your children are not that adventurous when it comes to food, we advise families to always include their children in mealtime and at least present the food to them by putting it on the tray, near them on the table, etc. Never force-feed – you do not want them to associate mealtime with a negative experience. Just allow them to explore! Keep introducing a variety of foods in terms of texture, taste, temperature, and color to increase the variety in their diet.
If you find your child is having difficulty chewing try a Chewy Tube. They are helpful for promoting a more mature chewing pattern and allow children to become more comfortable with more chewable foods such as chicken. Have them bite on it a few times on each side of their mouth to practice. Z-vibes are very helpful if you find your child is pocketing food in their cheeks or in the roof of their mouth. You can also put ice cubes on the outside of their cheeks to alert them that they are pocketing food. They are vibrating gadgets that are super easy to use and help increase awareness. If they do not initially like the sensation it is recommended to start from their hands and gradually go up to their mouth. If you child has difficulty with tongue lateralization (e.g. – getting the food out from their cheek with their tongue), try tongue exercises such as bringing his tongue from left to right in front of the mirror. It helps increase range of motion.
Happy eating! ☺