Up to six months, your baby has had all the nutrition they need from breast or formula milk. From this point they can start to enjoy smoothly puréed fruits and vegetables and will learn to love different tastes. From this, the next step is to add texture, until eventually your little one is eating what everyone else in the family enjoys.

Your baby’s development is amazingly swift and they will be able to start enjoying food with tiny lumps in it from as early as seven months. At this stage, you can blend the food less finely, leaving little lumps, or simply mash it coarsely with a fork. You can also choose pre-prepared meals with little lumps in them.

It’s now time to let your little one discover a whole new world of tastes and textures.

Safety note:
Always supervise your baby while feeding and never leave them alone with foods they could choke on.

Did you know this stage of weaning is important not just for your baby’s health but for their speech and language development as well? Eating different textures helps develop the muscles of the tongue and the mouth in order to get them ready to create your baby’s first words. It’s also a very important stage between only being able to swallow purée and being able to eat all kinds of foods.

This stage is also a good time to help them master how to chew their food. This is a brand-new skill, as up to now they have just swallowed.

Food helps your baby’s development too. When they are very little, they can only make large movements, called gross motor skills, such as waving arms and legs. As they grow and change, they become more and more adept at smaller, or fine motor skills and this, importantly, includes the finger grip. This means, of course, that not only can they pick things up, but they can also bring them to their mouth and this plays a huge part in helping them start to enjoy becoming more independent with food.

Top tip

Be led by your baby. If you find that your little one isn’t keen on a slightly lumpier texture, mash it up a little more and try again another day.

Babies can find new experiences daunting but will quickly adapt and change.

 

Babies can manage pretty well with very few teeth!

As their teeth come in (this can vary from as early as three months to as late as one year), they will be able to start crunching on harder food, so you can offer raw apples and pears, carrots and cucumber. Even if they just gnaw on it for a while, then spit it out, they are experiencing a new taste or texture, so it’s all good.

Three steps to adding texture to baby food

So, you’ve mastered the purée stage and now want to move on? Here’s how to tackle texture. Try to do this at your baby’s favourite mealtime, when they are more likely to find it acceptable.

The first step is to make the consistency of your purées thicker. Mash a little of your child’s food before adding it to a purée, so it’s not quite so smooth. Then make the portions thicker and lumpier each day. When your baby is happy with this texture, you can cut out the purée stage. Choose a dish you know your baby loves when you first start.

As you increase the size of lumps in your baby’s food, you can also experiment with how you cut them up. So, from roughly mashed veg, you can progress to finely diced pieces, then larger ones – plus you can also leave some pieces in fist-sized chunks for your baby to pick up and chew while you feed them from a spoon.

If you start to add familiar tastes to new ones, you will find that your child will be more likely to enjoy it. Serve a favourite fruit or vegetable purée with a new source of carbohydrate, such as a little rice, baby-sized pasta, quinoa, cereal or couscous.

You don’t like bland food, so why should your baby? Feel free to experiment with herbs, (mild) spices, garlic and unsalted stock cubes.

Remember that you should avoid adding salt or sugar to baby food and avoid honey up to one year.

Weaning FAQs

Babies are likely to show signs of readiness at around 6 months of age for the introduction of first foods. This may be through sitting upright and holding their head steady, showing interest in your food and starting to pick up and move food to their mouth.

Around 6 months of age milk is still important in the diet, but it no longer provides all the iron and zinc your baby needs and this is where protein foods such as lentils, beans, eggs and fish are especially important.

If you are concerned that your little one has a food allergy or an intolerance then you should first get professional advice from your GP. Don’t just eliminate foods from your child’s diet, as they may become deficient in important nutrients. Depending on the severity and urgency, make notes of symptoms and the reactions and talk to your GP.

The first year is vital to exposing little ones to new foods, flavours and textures. These early days are also about trying new textures whether that be from whole cooked or soft raw foods (if following the baby led weaning approach). Or if offering purees first, then your little one will progress from eating runny, thin and thicker purees through to mashed, lumpy, minced and chopped food.

These early days of offering first foods can be really apprehensive and scary for us as parents. However it’s good to remember that gagging is a natural reflex that happens when there’s a risk of choking. They are learning lots of new skills, particularly how to chew, swallow, and how much food to take into their mouth in one go. To minimise risk of choking, ensure to cook food well so it’s a soft texture and cut into suitable sized pieces (e.g. halve grapes and cherry tomatoes) and always stay with your baby at meal times whilst they’re eating.

Also I’d recommend doing a first aid course for babies and children to further put your mind at rest at this time.

The first year of life (so up to 12 months) is all about exposing them to a wide variety of foods and increasing their familiarity to them. It’s also important to introduce protein based foods at 6 months as their iron stores are depleted at this point.

Don’t be driven by calories, rather offer a variety of foods including starchy carbs (e.g. rice, pasta and bread), protein rich foods (e.g. eggs, beans, lentils, fish and poultry) and a range of fruit and vegetables for a balanced meal. Children are good at self-regulating and they will eat to their appetite.

Where you can try and sit as a whole family and eat and enjoy your meal (and vegetables!) all together, so your child can see you enjoy all the foods on your plate.

Children need to try foods such as vegetables many times until they are familiar and accept them. This is tough to witness as a parent, but don’t give up and try offering it again!

In the meantime make sure to include some vegetables within meals (e.g. grated courgette or carrot in a pasta sauce) so you know they are getting some vegetables into their diet.

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