Infant Dinners: They Don’t Need Teeth

infantdinnersteethLately I have been asked about giving Oliver chunks of food and even puffs when he only has a sliver of one tooth at 7 months (for more info on my background here, read about Baby Led Weaning. How can he eat without teeth? I have also seen some people delaying finger foods with even older infants because they don’t have many teeth. I am a little confused.

First off, they don’t need teeth. Want proof? Give a mouthy infant your finger and watch what happens. CHEW. Want more proof? Give them a green pepper slice and watch CLOSELY. They will have chunks off in no time.Those little gums are sharp.

Second, baby’s first teeth (usually) aren’t “chewing” teeth. Think about it. When do you chew with your front 4 teeth? Check out this chart on when teeth come in on average and see they aren’t ripping meat from bones anytime soon.teeth

Now I’m not saying give your kid finger foods before YOU are ready either. If you don’t think they are ready, don’t. I get it. If you think they can handle it, give it a shot. Practice makes perfect.

My kids are different than your kids. My boys would eat anything that resembles food. They both have taken to finger food quickly. One, because they eat so much and so fast that I have to slow them. For real. I throw puffs at Ollie like a rabid beast so I can eat a bite of my food. Purees are clearly slowing him down. He needs the volume so we still shovel in some to make up some calories (juicing for babies). I started giving Oliver puffs awhile back to just keep him busy. Most ended up in his lap or the floor. Jack LOVED it. Then, in the past week, he started REALLY getting it. I go to scoop out his seat and there is nothing there. So far her has had the following finger foods:

  • smooshed black beans or cut in half.
  • banana pieces
  • kiwi pieces
  • blueberry halves
  • crackers
  • toast
  • Cherrios
  • sweet potato chunks
  • puffs
  • bacon
  • pears
  • green peppers
  • apple slices

He chews like you and I chew. If it’s too big, he spits it out. Chews it in the back and then swallows. Point is: he is practicing and getting better by the day. His pincer grasp is getting really good and I can even see the skill translate to better hand eye coordination with toys. I am happy with his development in this arena and hope this can serve as a jumping off point for some others looking to introduce finger foods.

To round it out, here are a few of Ollie’s dinners lately:

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9 Comments

  1. Ha! I literally LOL’d bc my littlest now has SIX teeth! He’s our finger food champ. But L’s our puree champ. I do a mix of both to keep each interested & engaged.
    Also, what was your oatmeal/mango mixture? I pureed a mango this weekend & froze it in cubes. Was wondering best way to serve besides just the fruit. I’ve been pouring rice cereal or oatmeal grains in other fruit. Do you mix in formula or bm too?

    • Yeah I mix cereals in any puree to thicken it up. Mango can get pretty runny. I also have mixed it with yogurt. Ollie pretty much will eat everything so sometimes I mix a cube or 2 of greens (collards, spinach, kale) with peaches, mango or pears. Whatever I have. Seems to be happier with that when he is grumpy. Let the sweet win 🙂 I have never mixed in formula or BM for anything since he has always wanted chunkier. I kind of did it on purpose so he would get used to it. I’m lazy.

  2. So nice to see another Mom doing this! Both my kids were slow teethers, but that doesn’t mean they ate slop for their entire 1st year! My youngest is 18months now, still only has 4 front teeth, with two more on the way, and 2 molars are just starting to come in. If I waited till they had all their “chewing” teeth, they’d be 2 before getting anything they really had to chew up.
    I never really thought twice about giving my kids things they had the chew when they didn’t have teeth (obviously they weren’t eating steak at 6months!), because those gums are hard and powerful, but I too got some looks from family and friends.
    Great post!

  3. Something I learned about baby led weaning and told my mom many time to reassure her, is that babies also have a really good reflex that keeps them from choking. You still have to keep your eye on them but if they get too big a piece or don’t gum it up good enough, they’ll send it back on up!

    • YES! I wanted to note this but I know people get really timid on this subject. I almost want to record Ollie gagging to show what gagging is vs choking. Gagging is learning how to eat. If we give them purees for too long, they miss out on learning that skill.

  4. I’ll admit it to anyone who asks, feeding my 9 month old scares me. I cut her food into teeny tiny bits that I’m surprised she can pick up (but she can, maybe I actually helped her figure out that pincer grasp…) I’m freaking out over the size of those kiwi slices as I write this. As much as I am frightened by dinnertime, I am also amazed by how much she can house and how much she loves food.

    ps…just found your blog from a random tweet copying both of us. While I’m uncomfortable with the way I found it, I’m glad I did. Holla, Raleigh!

  5. FYI: I've read before that if you are feeding a 'slimy' food thats hard to grab (banana, kiwi, etc), you can roll it in cereal first to add some texture.

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