Ask Dr. JJ: Helping Get My Baby Chewing

dr. jj


I have a 13-month-old who still gags on food! I always cut things really small and sometimes he does fine and sometimes, not so much. He hates the 3rd stage foods because of the lumps. Is there something I can do to try to and help him get chewing down better? Or will he just get it on his own? Thanks!

Dr. JJ:

Some babies have a very active gag reflex and often need a little more time handling chunks of food. Hand him tiny finger foods (O cereal maybe wet with a little milk, soft bananas, very tiny cooked pasta) so he can pursue more solid food at his pace. The nice thing about the Baby Bullet is being able to customize the consistency of any food for him, until he is ready for that next step. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having more teeth so he can grind the food and get it to the back of his mouth himself. By 18 months, if he isn’t making progress, ask your pediatrician about whether a feeding consult with a good occupational therapist might be in order. He has a lot of time before I really would be concerned, so hang in and remember to always offer a tiny amount of food that he can learn to manage on his own.


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About Dr. JJ Levenstein

Dr. JJ Levenstein is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and in 2012 retired from her thriving private pediatric practice in Encino, California. She served on the staff of CHLA and Encino Tarzana Hospitals for 20 years and was consistently voted one of the Best Doctors in America® from 2003 through 2012. Drawing from her experience as a pediatrician and mom, Dr. Levenstein serves as president and co-founder of MD Moms, makers of Baby Silk, the first personal care line for babies developed by pediatrician moms. She serves on the board of United Cerebral Palsy LA, is an active writer and sits on the advisory boards of several child-centered websites. She is an accomplished chef and completed culinary school in 2013! She has had a lifelong interest in child nutrition and all things related to preventive health.


  1. missybosa says:

    I have two boys and I taught each of them to chew with soft foods they can hold themselves like bananas and hot dogs. I’d give them a little chunk to hold on to and bite into however big or small they wanted. sitting there watching them I could see them learning and feeling themselves out. a few times with that method they were good to go.

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