After about a year of mashing and gumming pureed or soft foods, babies will develop molars at about 10-16 months. These initial teeth aren’t fully formed until the age of 2, in most cases. As baby teeth continue to develop, and permanent teeth form underneath, you can begin to switch from specialized baby food to larger “table food” (soft vegetables, meatballs, beans, etc). Of course, any solid food that’s provided should be small and relatively soft so the child doesn’t choke. Mashed potatoes or shredded cheese are good examples of starting solids. Coughing or temporary gagging is likely to happen when solid food is eaten the first few times. Stay calm, because if you panic they certainly will, too. Have them cough it up and let them try again at a later date once the trauma has passed.
The most common unknown is simply knowing when the switch is appropriate.
Surprisingly, not all parents opt for a liquid food diet to begin with, and go straight for solid food meals. If you’re trying to make a switch from one to the other, however, a good indicator is the toddler’s ability to feed themselves. Being able to pick up their food with both hands and grasp at smaller bits with their fingers is a telltale sign that they are of age. In addition, any teeth are of obvious help, but they aren’t necessary. So long as the solid food is mash-able by gums, it can be eaten.
Sometimes, the toddler will be the one to let you know when they’re ready to make the switch. If the toddler refuses to eat from the “airplane” that nosedives toward their mouth or tries to grab the spoon for themselves, it may be time. Some toddlers may not be that direct, and may suggest the switch by spitting out bits of the liquid food or picking at solid pieces of food with their fingers. If still unsure, some parents ease in the solids by feeding their child both liquid and solid food at a meal.
The switch is all about reading your child and determining for yourself if they are up to the challenge.
Not all children develop at the same rate, so just watch and listen for when your child is ready to try that cake and smile to the camera.