Feeding Red Flags: Moving Towards Textures & Concerns With Gagging
Moving Towards Textures and Concerns With Gagging
Starting around 5-6 months until around 18 months, your child’s feeding skills are constantly developing. Moving through the various textures (from baby food cereals, to purees, to meltables, to soft solids, etc.) can be an exciting and sometimes overwhelming time for toddlers and parents. Keep in mind that everyone progresses at different rates and letting your child explore new foods through play can help greatly with these transitions. Don’t worry too much if your child sometimes refuses new foods or textures or even gags on occasion! These tips can help make texture progression fun and worry free:
Tip #1– Have fun!
Let your child explore new textures that he may not be familiar with- this may mean getting messy! Wearing your food is part of the process of learning how to eat. Try ‘painting’ with purees on your child’s tray, ‘mixing’ different foods with a long pretzel rod or playing ‘tug of war’ with licorice.
Tip #2- Explore with your food!
Between 8 and 9 months, introduce hard “munchables” (hard solids such as raw carrots or celery sticks, hard pretzel rods, or hard dried fruit sticks, that your child CANNOT bite a piece from) by letting your child hold onto the item and use the other end to explore his mouth. This helps the tongue learn to move food and move the gag reflex further back into his throat!
Tip #3– It takes practice!
Your child may gag himself during food exploration, especially when introducing a new texture, but don’t panic! You can reassure your child that it’s okay, and gently help him pull the food forward (for hard “munchables” or larger food items).