Chewing is one of the key skills you need to help your little one develop. Although it is a reflexive action in any human being, it tends to fade away before babies turn a year old. Hence, it is crucial to develop this skill as early as possible.
So how can you promote chewing in your little one?
1) Teethers are a fantastic way to encourage children to chew and overcome the gag reflex. We recommend using stick-shaped teethers called num-nums. As children begin to put these teethers in their mouth, they subconsciously start oral mapping, which can start as early as 4-5 months.
2) Teething biscuits, toys, and foods that are stick-shaped are also great for practice. Toy carrots or baby corn are good to practice both chewing and biting. Stick-shaped teethers and toys are recommended because they go to the back of the mouth to where the molars will eventually erupt. Moreover, children can maneuver around their mouth freely, helping them gag less when starting solids. Teethers also strengthen oral muscles and sensitivity and awareness to different textures in their mouth.
As a parent, you may not prefer giving your child teethers. While this is okay, teethers merely speed up the process of chewing and preventing the gag reflex.
For parents who choose not to use teethers, seeing their child gag on purees can be a scary experience. It's natural to want to delay introducing solid foods to avoid this situation. However, delaying this important milestone can hinder your little one’s progress.
Teething Made Easy: Expert Tips for Choosing and Using Teethers
1) What should I do before I use a teether?
When introducing teethers, disinfect them and place them in your baby's hand if they have learned how to grasp things. You can also place the teether in the baby's mouth, and they will know how to chew on it and bite it.
For wooden teethers, rub coconut oil, leave it in, and wipe it off. The coconut oil will remove any dirt and come off easily.
2) When should I introduce teethers?
Generally, babies start teething between 4 to 7 months, and some teeth sooner, at 3 months. Whenever they start teething, it is time to introduce a teether.
3) What kind of teethers are good for my baby?
When buying teethers, look for:
You can also opt for:
Use your finger:
Massaging around their gums for one to two minutes using a clean finger soothes their pain and distracts them. It can also help you figure out what's going on in there.
If you don’t prefer buying teethers, that’s fine! Just make your own teethers at home. Here’s a list of homemade teethers: