Toddlers who do not chew their food thoroughly  are usually caused by a combination of developmental and behavioral factors: 

  1. They are still developing their oral motor skills. 
  2. They may not have all their teeth yet especially the molars, which are essential for grinding food, without some teeth that can make chewing a difficult task. 
  3. They generally have shortened attention spans and are thus easily distracted while eating, which also leads to hurried eating and lack of chewing. 
  4. They lack the awareness of the significance of chewing properly to aid digestion and prevent choking. 

So what are the solutions:

  1. For a start provide appropriate food texture and size by offering soft pieces of food that are easy to chew, gradually introduce more textured food as your child's chewing progresses. For now, it is best to avoid hard-choking hazardous food like popcorn, nuts, or hard candy and sticky food. 
  2. Model how it is done during mealtime. Let them learn from watching you, be sure to let your child see how you chew your food, and make a point to chew your food slowly. Monkey sees monkey do! 
  3. Encourage slower eating by offering bite-sized portions of food and letting them chew each bite thoroughly before offering the next bite. 
  4. At all times supervise your child's meal to prevent choking. Stay calm if your child gags. Gagging is a normal part of the learning process and is not the same as choking. It often means that your child tried to swallow a piece of food without chewing it sufficiently to break it down. With gagging, there is noise and sound and the child’s face turns red. With choking, there is often silence and the child starts to turn blue. Try your best to remain calm and use a steady voice, as children can sense adults’ fear and may become scared to try foods in the future. Children can usually recover from a gag without any adult intervention. Encourage, check the piece of food that led to the gag, and make modifications as needed (e.g. make it smaller, smash it a little bit more).
  5. You can also encourage fun activities that strengthen their oral muscles such as blowing bubbles, using straws, and blowing up balloons. 

Helping your toddler learn to chew properly is an essential part of their development. By providing appropriate foods, modeling good behavior, and offering support and encouragement, you can help them build the skills they need for safe and enjoyable mealtimes. Remember, every child learns at their own pace—be patient, stay positive, and celebrate their progress along the way!

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