Now that your baby has mastered smooth purees, it’s time for the next weaning challenge: getting him used to lumpier foods
Once your baby is happily taking simple purees, it’s time to introduce some lumps to his meals. It’s the next step in his nutritional development – but they also play a key role in his wider development.
Introducing texture to your baby’s food is essential for his progress towards feeding himself and sharing in family mealtimes. Lumps will encourage him to move beyond simply sucking his food to chewing it.
And this skill won’t just help him to tuck into the Sunday roast in a few months’ time; it’s also essential for developing the muscles he needs to utter his first few words.
You can start introducing texture to your baby’s food once he’s happy with simple purees and has successfully learnt to suck off a spoon. This is likely to be a few weeks after he’s first weaned.
Don’t worry if he hasn’t got any teeth; some babies don’t cut their first tooth until well after their first birthday, yet they can still progress onto textured food. Even if your baby’s first teeth haven’t appeared yet, they will be ready and waiting just under his gums: if you feel them, they will be quite hard.
His hard gums will be more than capable of getting to grips with first textures, which will be little more than a slightly lumpy puree. After all, he won’t need to tear through fillet steak for a while yet!
Introducing lumps is a gradual process: his first textured foods shouldn’t be much more than a puree, and any lumps should be very small and soft. Try splitting a batch of cooked veggies into two halves; puree one portion until completely smooth, but blend the other portion slightly less, and then mix the two together. To make his first experience less startling, make sure the meal is something he’s already had in pureed form that you know he likes. Give it to him at a time when he is most likely to be calm, usually lunchtime: he’s likely to be too hungry at his first morning feed to take kindly to having to negotiate new textures, and too tired at teatime. Put a small amount on the tip of a baby spoon and place it just between his lips so he can suck it off.
Don’t be alarmed if his first reaction is to gag; he’s probably just surprised by the lumps. Scoop the food back up and offer it again. Hopefully, after the initial shock, he’ll suck it off the spoon.
He won’t start chewing straight away – this is a big milestone in his development and a skill that it will take him a while to master – so watch him carefully as he learns to negotiate the soft lumps in his mouth. Some babies prefer to have their lumpy food separately, rather than encountering the occasional surprise lump in an otherwise runny puree, so if he’s resistant, try offering him a smooth carrot puree as usual, but leave some softly steamed carrot batons whole for him to have on the side.If he clearly shows you that he doesn’t like the new texture, for example by turning his head away, be guided by him. Go back to the purees for a week or so before trying a few soft lumps again. But do persevere; this stage can take time, but is essential for your baby’s development.
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