Why is my baby spitting out food?
Its frustrating and nerve-wracking with your little one is taking bites of food but then seeing it all fall out of there mouth.
Are they getting enough to eat? are they unable to swallow? are they a picky eater?
Well, great news for you: For the majority of developing babies and toddler, spitting out is not only normal, but totally necessary part of learning to eat.
It's more simple than chewing & swallowing
When starting your solids journey your little one has to learn to chew and swallow, babies have a ton of skills to practice and acquire.
First off, they need to work out what food is on there plate. Than they need to visually engage with food. Once they understand that they need to know how to reach for the food and grasp the food. But lastly they need the hand-eye coordination and motor planning skills to get the food to there mouths. Magic happens once the food is in there mouths.
Once your little one has finally got some food into there mouth, there's quite a bit of stuff going on that needs to take place before they can fully swallow it. Babies are born with oral reflexes to learn to chew and swallow, but chewing requires alot of motor skills, including moving of the tongue, keeping the food on the side of the mouth for chewing. Moving the jaw up and down to break up the food, and then finally, transitioning the food to back the centre of the mouth where they can swallow it backwards. which seems simple to us, but requires a lot of work for a little one.
Beyond the oral motor skills required to shew and swallow food, mature chewing also requires sensory awareness. Little ones needs to learn when there food is in there mouths and how to move it around the mouth to get it to where it needs to go.
Learn by seeing and doing!
Little ones learn through connecting movement with sight and touch. Sometimes little ones need visual feedback to understand how to move food and where it is in there mouth. Plus where its going, this is what is happening when they spit out there food.
Little humans will attempt to chew food and spit out semi-chewed food. this happens for 2 reasons:
- motor planning mistake: hasn't learned the boundaries of their mouth where the food moves out of there mouth, rather than sideways or backward to swallow.
- Visual Inspecting: Needs to see the food is chewed thoroughly before swallowing
By seeing and touching the food they've spit out, little humans are learning about chewing. Often they will spit out food, visually inspect it, and put it right back in their mouths. Try to let them do this and not to show any disgust(as much as it can look bad), it's just one way to solidify chewing skills!
What to do when your little human spits out food
Now you have a better understanding of why your little human is spitting out food, let's chat about what to do. The easiest answer? LET IT HAPPEN! try not to intervene or show disapproval. Your little one is doing exactly what they should be be to learn how to chew thoroughly.
In fact, take advantage of your little one spitting out food. Talk to them about what they are doing. for example: "WOW! looks like you have a lot in your mouth. was it too much? looks like it was too much for your mouth, and you had to spit it out." or "Great Job! you are doing such a great job learning to chew that, i think it fell out of your mouth. lets look and see."
You might feel silly doing it, but the more little humans are repetitively exposed to language explaining their actions, the more they grow and learn.
If you're taking your little one somewhere where spitting would be frowned upon(like your mum's hour or a dinner party), try not to fret. Here are some quick tips to try and head off spitting out food.
- Place small amount of foods within there reach and refill when needed.
- Make the food easy to handle and easy to chew
- Be prepared with a response to your family if anyone dares to comment on it. If uncle roger makes any remarks about it, you can always say that your little one is "still learning to chew and swallow and its part of the learning process of learning to eat".
Bottom Line On little humans spitting out food
Spitting out is normal and necessary part of learning to eat and it will go on for quite some time! The best way to help your little human learn is through constant, repetitive practice and to give then the free rain to explore and visually inspect the food. Try not to react with disgust or disapproval and instead, treat each spitting out as a opportunity to engage with your child and discuss what happen.