Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Babies and Solid Foods

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: Are a ten-month-old's teeth developed enough to chew tougher foods, like chicken?

A: Most children have some teeth at 10 months of age, but not their molars. Still, they can eat bits of tender, cooked chicken. The typical age for children to get their first tooth is about 6 or 7 months. The first teeth are usually the central incisors (the front 2 middle teeth) on the bottom; next come the front 2 teeth on the top. The lateral incisors appear on the bottom and then the top, right next to the central incisors. These teeth come in rapid succession so that, by the time a child is 12 months old, she will have about 6 to 8 teeth, but all in the front. The molars (the back teeth that you use to chew and grind your food) don't usually appear until about 15 months. Some children develop their teeth later, but this doesn't mean that there's anything wrong -- some infants don't start getting their first teeth until they are close to a year old.

The presence or absence of teeth shouldn't affect whether or not your child can advance her repertoire of solid foods. The front teeth are primarily for biting or tearing a small bit of food off a larger piece. You then use your back teeth (as well as your tongue and palate) to do the actual mashing and grinding of the food to get it small enough to swallow. Infants use their gums to help mash their food so that it can be swallowed. For most foods (bread, pasta, cereal, soft fruits, and tender, cooked vegetables and meats) this works perfectly well.

There are definitely some foods that you should avoid giving your child at this stage. Nuts, hard candy, hard raw vegetables, raisins, popcorn, and hot dogs all require hard back teeth to handle them properly, and to minimize the risk of choking. You should not give these to children who don't have their molars, and I recommended you avoid them completely until your child is at least two years old.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks