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Guidance & Tips for Parents
There are a number of things that you can do to broaden your toddler’s experience of food textures.
Things that help
- Continue to give the pureed or soft food that your toddler likes.
Reason: This will ensure that your child takes the calories needed for growth.
- Gradually introduce more ‘experiences’ of slightly more solid foods. Toddlers only need small amounts of these foods so that they can learn how the food feels in their mouth, and how to move the food around in their mouth.
Reason: This will enable your child to learn the chewing skills needed for more solid textured foods.
- Start by introducing bite and dissolve foods.
Reason: These are foods that quickly dissolve in your mouth if you hold them there; like Quavers, Skips, prawn crackers, Pom-Bears, dry Rice Krispies, sponge fingers and wafer biscuits. This will give your child confidence about having lumps in the mouth; these foods quickly become soft and they are less likely to cause a choke and gag reaction.
- As your toddler begins to accept some bite and dissolve foods, replace one of the spoon-fed pureed meals with bite and dissolve foods. Gradually increase the firmness of the foods offered as your toddler becomes more used to them. Remember though that your toddler will still need some soft textured foods, such as yogurts or fromage frais.
Reason: You need to balance your toddler’s calorie needs with their need to learn new chewing skills. This is to make sure that your child continues to take enough calories to grow.
Things to avoid
- Give very difficult solid foods at this stage. Avoid foods like meat, bread and uncooked apple.
Reason: Your toddler may not be able to cope with these textures. They may feel that they are choking when they try to swallow these foods, and be fearful of trying more difficult textures in the future.
- Worry about dietary balance at this stage.
Reason: It is more important at this stage to make sure that your toddler has enough calories to grow well. Dietary balance can come later.
If the problem persists see your GP or health visitor who may refer you to:
- a specialist speech and language therapist for help with the transition to firmer textured food
- the community paediatrician who may be able to identify the cuase of the child’s inability to cope with firmer textured food