Taking the step up from baby food to table food requires a key skill: chewing. Chewing is a learned skill, and parents can help their babies make the transition by offering a mix of appropriately textured foods.
Before introducing textured foods, review a baby’s readiness. Signs that a baby is ready to begin eating soft foods include crawling with his or her stomach off the floor, pulling up to a standing position, starting to mash food with the jaws and attempting to feed him or herself (not necessarily successfully, but making the effort).
Learning to chew takes practice. It’s not a skill babies develop instantly or even over a limited period of time, such as one month. Studies show that even when babies reach 3 years of age, they are still mastering chewing skills. Baby foods that combine different textures allow babies who are at the crawling or standing stage to simply explore those textures in their mouths without having to navigate separate foods. For older babies, small, soft food pieces can help promote side-to-side tongue movement and jaw mashing movement as preparation for chewing. Children who eat foods with chunky textures before the 10-month mark have an easier time transitioning to table food.
Textured foods such as those in Gerber’s Lil’ Bits recipe collection are specifically designed with soft bits of food sized for babies’ mouths and a gradual progression in texture to help them further develop their chewing skills. Gerber experts analyzed more than 20 hours of video footage of babies chewing and mashing food, and tested approximately 30,000 spoonfuls of food to develop optimally sized food pieces that promote chewing ability.
We hold ourselves to high standards and bring deep passion to making baby food,” a company statement notes. “We only work with farmers who comply with our strict quality standards, use cooking practices that help ensure our products are safe and developmentally appropriate, and test our products with babies from our panel of 2,000 Tiny Taste Testers. We do all of this to help ensure that our baby food is as delicious as it is nutritious.”
The Gerber Lil’ Bits collection includes 11 fruit and vegetable options and six dinner options, resulting from more than 80 taste tests to ensure baby approval. Recipes include Chicken Itty-Bitty Noodle, Garden Vegetable & Beef, and Autumn Vegetable & Turkey.
For more information, and to share photos of your baby’s first chewing efforts, please visit www.gerber.com/learntochew.