Ready to pack away your blender? Here’s how to move on from purees to proper chopped dinners
Are you bored of blending yet? Four months or so into the weaning process, chances are you’re beginning to tire of pulverising every meal into an unrecognisable mush for your baby. The good news is that at around this stage, she’s likely to be ready to make the transition from mashed to chopped foods. She’s probably got several teeth by now, making it easier for her to chew and swallow solid foods, and is also getting better at self-feeding with her fingers or a fork.
If, until now, you’ve mainly served up purees and mashed food, it may take a while for your baby to get used to chopped foods. To ease the transition, try mashing the main part of her meal, but leaving a few chopped bits on the side for her to eat with her fingers. And don’t be surprised if things get messy: your tot is likely to get great pleasure from picking up assorted bits of chopped food and dropping them one by one off her highchair tray. To you, it might look like she’s just playing with her food, but exploring the shape and texture of what she’s eating is all part of the weaning process, and can help to avoid fussiness later on.
Above all, be patient. So far, all of your baby’s meals have been of a similar consistency; now she has to adapt to eating a whole range of new textures, from crunchy raw vegetables to soft flaky fish. It takes practice, but do persevere, and before you know it you’ll be able to stop pureeing for good.
Young children often regress to more babyish eating habits when they’re teething or under the weather. Don’t be surprised if, when a new tooth is about to emerge or he’s full of cold, your baby turns her nose up at chopped foods and will only eat soft purees or drink milk. It’s the baby version of craving comfort food, so go with it; once she’s back to full fitness, her usual eating habits should return.
While some babies are happily tucking into a chopped-up roast dinner at this age, others are reluctant to move on from purees. There are many factors that can influence a baby’s ability to cope with solids, but it can be very dispiriting if she persistently refuses lumps or gags on her meals.
In a very few cases, lump aversion has a physical cause. If your baby has reflux or an oversensitive gag reflex, for example, she may have difficulty chewing and swallowing. But for most babies, getting used to lumps and chopped food is just a matter of time and patience. Try to change the texture of his food slowly, moving gradually from smooth purees to minced and then mashed food before introducing chopped foods, increasing the size of the pieces you offer day by day. And don’t forget to make her meals appealing: mini burgers, meatballs, home made chicken nuggets or fish goujons are more likely to tempt your tot than chunks of dry meat or soggy veg.
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