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Chew refers to the action of grinding to destroy the food and facilitate its digestion. It is a much more complex act than we think and that changes throughout the first years of life. Its evolution is closely linked to tooth eruption, but the jaw also plays a very important and often little-known role. Learn about the process of chewing and how the child learns to chew.
It is important to stop and think about the changes that occur during feeding as our children grow older.
Initially, children eat milk without having teeth and without being important chewing. With the first dental eruptions, we begin to introduce certain foods and the first phase of easy chewing begins, and finally, in a later stage, the introduction of foods of greater hardness and, with them, a more mature chewing is achieved. In all this process, there are three important moments:
- Linear movement during lactation
When the baby is breastfeeding, the teeth do not yet exist and the movement of the jaw together with that of the tongue are completely united, moving from front to back or up and down to get the milk to be expressed.
- Lateral movement during chewing
By introducing the first textures to the child, in parallel to the appearance of the first teeth, the child begins to learn a new slightly more complex movement, where he tries to move the jaw to one side and to the other to achieve a better crushing of the food at the same time than savor its juice.
- Rotational movement during chewing
When your dentition is older and almost complete, it is easy to see that there are different types of teeth and with them different types of movement. The central teeth (incisors) are much finer and will cut food, and the back teeth (molars) are much thicker and grind better. Therefore, we will see that the little ones begin to make circular movements of the jaw.
To promote this evolution towards chewing, We have to try to gradually offer the child different textures that go from something easier, such as a puree or a cooked potato, to the final introduction of solid foods. Based on this, we can talk about 4 types of solid textures:
- No chewing
In this case no chewing is required. They are, for example, custard, yogurt, flan, mashed potatoes or any type of vegetable puree.
- Very easy chewing
Within this phase, very little chewing is required. Here we include foods that can be crushed just by pressing with the fork, such as bananas, cheeses or overcooked pasta.
- Easy chewing
We are talking about soft foods that cannot be crushed with a fork, but can be easily broken, for example, bread, omelette, hamburger, potatoes, pear, apple, etc.
- Normal chewing
And finally, we find hard foods that can only be broken with the teeth (without damaging them, of course), for example, meats, loaf bread, nuts ...
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