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Pediatrics/1 year old swallows whole (chewing issues)



My 1 year old son has been swallowing whole ever since he started solid foods. We play games showing him how to chew and he usually tries to copy us but he does the "fish". He has a few teeth (no molars). He is not a picky eater and is encouraged to eat a large variety of foods. In fact, he always wants that piece of bread or cucumber or carrot (cooked); however, he will take a bite (regardless of whether it is a very small piece or larger piece from which he has no issues to bite into and take a small bite out of it himself), and either swallows it whole or roll it around in his mouth and spits it out if he sees he is unable to swallow it.

He will do this with ground meat, small pieces of chicken, soft green peas or anything he can't crush with his palate. He will eat Baby MumMum rice cookies and lets them dissolve in his mouth rather than taking bites, and any other type of cookies, he will take an initial bite, swirl it around and spit it out.

He enjoys ALL types of foods, including things like anchovies, sardines, liver, etc! He much prefers finger foods (I have to give him some very soft finger foods for him to eat if I want to be able to sneak in a spoon in his mouth). His pediatrician STILL recommended to cut the formula to once a day and homogenized milk at the end of his meals to encourage him to eat.

My question is.....are there a lot of children who learn to chew after their first birthday? I would like to know whether this is a common issue. My pediatrician is giving it another 3 months, but would like him to see a specialist if he doesn't improve within that timeframe.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

Concerned mom

Hi, Annie,

If he is growing well and developing normally and doesn't choke all the time, I would continue doing what you are doing.  He will eventually chew and swallow like anyone else.  Too much emphasis on this pattern of eating at this time may foster a feeding aversion.  Let him do what he whats.  Feeding specialists are usually people in the PT world, but I really don't think this warrants that sort of evaluation.  I would just wait and accept that is how he is eating right now and it will change over time.

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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