There are a lot of questions from worried mothers about how their toddlers do not chew their food while eating. Weaning between 6 to 9 months is very important and the food habits we instill around that time is what they are going to follow and it's going to make a huge difference in the future. Here are a few myths we need to ditch and move on.
Myth: Babies can't chew because they still don't have teeth.
Fact: Babies can very well chew with their strong gums, as early as 6 months. They can chew soft rotis, paranthas, dosa, idly, hand smashed rice, murmura, steamed vegetables, thinly sliced fruits and so on. Start offering all these to your babies and be surprised what all they can eat with their gums. Make sure to offer bite-sized pieces and not big ones which might choke or gag them.
Myth: Babies should be given only pureed food or food ground in a mixer.
Fact: By the end of 7 months, purees should be stopped and hand-smashed foods should be introduced. By not giving textures you are restricting the baby to gulping down the food.
Start offering hand smashed food and other textures, Babies are smart enough to manipulate the texture and eat accordingly. If you are only going to give purees, they will not learn to bite or chew.
Myth: Babies should be given only 2 flavors - salt and sugar.
Fact: Till their 1st birthday, they should not be given salt and sugar. Breast milk and formula milk is already sweet, so they know that taste. Start offering flavors like pepper, lemon, tamarind. Offer whatever you cook for the family without salt and sugar and adjust the spice level according to the baby.
I have a 14-month-old with 0 teeth, I repeat 0 teeth. But she can bite all vegetables, fruits, and well-cooked meat. She has been exposed to textures and flavors when she was just 6 months old. She drinks porridges, chews her omelet and eats her well-cooked rice. So trust your baby and offer textures.
Note: There is a condition where few babies cannot chew and eat at all - they will vomit food if given without pureeing. This needs attention and you will need to consult an occupational therapist.
Also read - Weaning Basics: How And When To Get Started