For over a year now Sam has been eating finely mashed and pureed foods while showing no signs that he could chew anything on his own. His therapist and I did different mouth exercises with him and she kept telling me that she saw no signs of any pre-chewing (mashing) motions. He couldn't even move his tongue from side to side to move the food around. I was starting to worry that I'd never see an end to the baby food jars stacked high in my pantry.
Then one day that little mouth just started mashing. I had been sprinkling graham cracker crumbs in his yogurt to give him more texture and I think I made one "crumb" a little big one time which caused him to gag a bit. Oops. But that seemed to kick things into gear and he mashed down on that chunk... I mean crumb. So I gave him a banana to eat. Okay, we worked on the mashing for quite a few days. But he began protesting being put into his feeding chair and being spoon fed. So, one evening, tired of him flinging himself about in his chair while I struggled not to poke his eye out with a spoonful of food, I took him out of his chair and gave him a banana. He took a bite.... wait, this is big: HE TOOK A BITE! This is a child that took 4 months to learn how to take a bottle and more than 6 months to figure out when there was a spoonful of food in his mouth that he needed to swallow. He has major oral-motor sensory issues so learning a new eating skill is no small accomplishment. So, as I was saying, he TOOK A BITE of the banana!! Then he mashed it, swallowed it and opened his mouth for more. I tried getting him to hold it 'cause my dream is to be able to hand him a banana in the back seat of the car and let him chow down, but he has sensory issues with his hands too and I guess the banana skin was not very a-peeling ;-)
Since that magical day he's eaten mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, cornbread stuffing, creamed spinach, cranberry sauce and pumpkin bread (we celebrated Thankgiving early with my family last weekend). He seems to really enjoy the new tastes and textures. Now I just need to work on getting him to put the food into his mouth himself. I still hope for the day when I can go through the McDonald's drive-thru and just toss a couple of Big Macs into the back seat for the boys... okay, maybe a McVeggie burger :-)