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The introduction of solids in your baby’s diet is not only important for nutritional reasons, but for the developmental of oral motor skills. These are the actions of the mouth, lips, tongue, cheeks and jaw as they suck, bite, chew and lick. These motor skills work the same muscles in the mouth as those which are needed for speech development.
When foods are introduced into your baby’s diet, it’s important that as your baby’s feeding skills develop, that textures change from liquid to solid. Different textures require different oral motor skills, which are important for speech development. For example, pureed and lumpy food encourage chewing. Chewing helps develop the use of the tongue by giving it a good workout, which is important for many different speech sounds, i.e. t, d, k and g, as well as speech development. Solid foods help develop and strengthen the jaw, as well as the lips and tongue muscles, which are required for speech. The lips also help to keep food in the mouth, and is important for sounds m, p and b.
A delay in introducing solids with different textures as your baby develops, can lead to a fussy infant unwilling to accept new tastes and textures, as well as a delay in chewing and muscle development, which can affect speech sounds later on.
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