by Alice Fotheringham, Infant Nutrition Expert at Piccolo
It is important to introduce new first tastes and first textures
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?
Weaning is very much 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 in the first year, 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.
But what can you move onto once you have got them tasting those first few spoonfuls of pureed goodness? When should you be introducing different foods, and how important is it to give your baby more textured foods and finger foods?
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 think about moving onto different vegetables, grains, pulses, meat, and fish fairly soon after starting on simple fruit and vegetables in those first few days.
The pureed stage needn’t last that long. You can actually move onto more textured food only a few days or weeks after trying first smooth foods (providing they are six months and are can easily tolerate the smooth food you are giving them) or you can even give purees and finger food at the same time, which is a lovely way to offer foods right from the start.
Signs your baby may be ready for more textured foods
- Your baby can manage thick smooth textures without any problem such as full-fat natural set yoghurt.
- Your baby is starting to move food around in their mouth using their tongue.
- You notice chewing movements (even if they have no food in their mouth).
It is important to move onto these more textured foods, as there is a link between the late introduction of lumps (at 9 months and later) and lowered food acceptance later on in childhood. It has also been shown that those children introduced to lumps and textured food from an early age (6-7 months), then went on to consume a greater variety of family food.
Transitioning onto more complicated tastes and textures earlier also makes it much easier to move onto family foods!
Tips for moving from puree onto mashed & finger food
Instead of pureeing food 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 vegetables separately to the puree.
Textures we love:
– Gumming on a low salt breadstick, a stick of cucumber peeled, ripe, a peeled spear of pear
– Cooked pasta pieces with a little olive oil or butter
– Mashing a banana with a fork
– Mashed avocado with well-cooked scrambled egg
– Cooked rice or oats