As adults, we take eating solid food for-granted. But moving on from milk is a long learning journey for your baby that he’ll want to take at his own pace, moving forwards in small steps. So how do you make sure that the food you give him is the right texture for him to eat and enjoy?
Your seven-month-old baby
Your baby’s first textured foods should be no more than lumpy purees. If you’ve been whizzing up purees in a food processor or with a hand blender, carry on doing this, but stop pureeing it when it still has a few small lumps in it.
If you’ve been sieving his food, sieve most of the puree, but leave a small amount to one side; mash this portion thoroughly with a fork, then mix it into the sieved food.
Your eight-month-old baby
If your baby has responded well to his first lumps, you can try him with slightly thicker and more textured food. Rather than pureeing all his food, you can add a little grated food to a puree to try him with coarser textures.
Mashing soft foods like bananas and potatoes instead of pureeing them will also introduce him to larger lumps. Offering minced meat will encourage him to chew a bit more, but still keep the stews and casseroles you offer him quite liquid.
You can also start to introduce some easy-to-eat finger foods like bread soldiers, sticks of soft steamed carrot or chunks of banana to get him used to more solid textures.
Your nine-month-old baby
By nine months, your baby should be ready for some more grown-up dishes. Try simple pasta sauces with special, baby-sized pasta (soup pasta is ideal), or chop your favourite pasta shapes into pieces he can manage.
Couscous and rice are firm favourites for babies at this stage, and can provide the bulk for a growing variety of dishes. He should also be able to deal with small vegetables like peas and sweetcorn, either on their own or mixed into a meal like shepherd’s pie.
You may now be able to adapt many of your family meals for your baby, but make sure you lightly mash or chop up anything that could present a choking hazard. If he hasn’t already started grabbing for food himself, now is a good time to introduce finger foods.
Try food that will dissolve easily in his mouth to begin with, such as rusks, fingers of soft bread, cucumber sticks or soft fruit such as strawberries, before introducing harder foods such as bread sticks, rice cakes or raw carrots.
Jars and lumps
Baby food manufacturers offer different types of baby food to match the different stages of weaning. ‘Stage 1’ foods are smooth purees and are intended for babies trying their first solids. ‘Stage 2’ foods for babies aged seven months and over are thicker, with soft lumps and a greater variety of flavours.
Processed jars can be useful to give you an idea of what sort of texture your baby can cope with, but if you prepare his food yourself you can adjust the consistency to suit his stage of development.