moving from purees to lumps to family food
Once you have started on the exciting journey of weaning and your little one has tasted their first few teaspoons of real food - what next? When should you be introducing different foods, and how important is it to give your baby more textured foods and finger foods?
Weaning is all about introducing your baby to a wide variety of tastes and textures in the first few months. They are still getting the majority of their nutrients from their breast or formula milk, so it is less important to worry about quantity or specific nutrients at this stage, and more about giving your baby a wide variety of foods.
when should you introduce lumps?
If you have started your baby on purees and want to continue giving purees but move onto textured foods, it is important to remember that your baby can tolerate mashed and finger foods from very early on, and it is in fact possible to use both purees and finger foods right from the start if you have started weaning from around 6 months.
Weaning is a gradual, gentle process, but you also want to give them a wide variety of flavours, so it is important to move onto different vegetables, grains, pulses, meat and fish a few weeks after first tastes.
how do you introduce lumps?
This is a gradual process, you can either go straight onto finger food or start with small, soft overall lumps – think mashing with a fork over blending. Chewing is a big milestone, so don’t expect it to happen right away, and it is a messy process to learn, so be patient and you will start to see differences as the week’s progress. If, however you get complete refusal of new or textured foods, be guided by them and never force. It could simply be that they are not hungry, in which case take the food away, and simply offer another food at the next meal.
importance of lumps
It is important not to delay moving onto textured foods, not only can it impact later acceptance of moving onto family foods and eating a wider variety of foods1,2, but eating a variety of textures, lumps and finger foods can also help with your baby’s speech development as chewing can help develop muscles involved in speech. Lumps are an important stage in your child’s progress towards feeding himself and sharing in family mealtimes.
tips to moving onto mashed & finger food
• instead of pureeing in a blender, simply mash it with a fork
• while you are mashing the food, why not give them a piece of the food to gum on. Giving them large chunks of soft-cooked vegetables, fruit or soft meats is a great way for them to practice pincer grip and hand-eye coordination
• avoid surprise lumps. This can be very off-putting for babies. Try to stick to overall mash, or keep lumps separate and give pasta pieces or chunks of cooked vegetable separately to the puree
It is very important to watch your baby at all times when he or she is eating. Many babies gag when they are getting used to a new texture, it is a safety mechanism that allows them to get rid of the pieces that are too challenging to handle. All babies have different sensitivity levels: some gag repeatedly even when transitioned from milk to thin purees, others have no problem eating advanced options like finger foods from the start. Be responsive to your baby’s development and follow what works for them before moving onto a thicker texture. If your baby gags continuously, vomits frequently or is generally upset at mealtimes, it is best to consult your health professional to rule out potential underlying issues.
not getting enough food
It is quite normal for babies to cut down on the amount of food they eat while they are mastering a new texture. It is a very normal reaction. It also may take longer for them to eat the same amount of food! But remember that most of their nutrients are still coming from their breast or formula milk at this stage.
What about the mess!
This is an extremely messy stage! However, it is really important for your baby to learn how to eat independently, and will make feeding your child easier later down the road. Get a shower curtain or piece of tarpaulin down, or use the family dog as a hoover, and remember, this stage does not last forever but can bring such a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction to your baby as they learn to feed themselves.
By Alice Fotheringham, Piccolo’s infant nutrition specialist, the new organic baby food brand that draws inspiration from the Mediterranean approach to health and well-being.
For more information on the weaning journey and to find out more about Piccolo and our recipes visit www.mylittlepiccolo.com
Northstone, K., P. Emmett, and F. Nethersole. "The effect of age of introduction to lumpy solids on foods eaten and reported feeding difficulties at 6 and 15 months." Journal of human nutrition and dietetics 14.1 (2001): 43-54.
Coulthard, Helen, Gillian Harris, and Pauline Emmett. "Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child's food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age." Maternal & child nutrition 5.1 (2009): 75-85.