Nutrition is an important part of healthy eating habits for the growing child. If age-appropriate quality and quantity of food is not given, relative or severe malnutrition may result, in turn leading to weakness, poor growth and inadequate development.
The graduation of babies from taking a purely liquid diet to semi-solid and solid food marks an important milestone in their development. The exact age to introduce solids and different types and textures of food depends on the individual needs of infants and toddlers.
As a rule of thumb, solid food with any kind of lumps in it should be introduced when the toddler is around 6-9 months old. Late introduction of solid food could potentially lead to consumption difficulties that may make life messy for the parent and the toddler alike. Also, after six months of age, the infant needs supplementary food to ensure that she gets sufficient nutrients like iron and zinc.
While introducing solid and semi-solid food, parents need to ensure the toddler is developing the ability to chew and move food around in his mouth. The progress to textured food is linked to the teething phase. The incisors come first, followed by the molars, and then, the premolars. Giving foods with more texture over a period (months) gives the toddler an opportunity to develop biting and chewing skills. The texture should be gradually scaled up since little ones tend to literally bite off more than they can chew! They will be able to grind the food into smaller pieces only when their molars erupt.