Introducing lumps to your weaning baby
It’s the next step in the weaning challenge – making your baby’s food lumpier. Here’s when to start, how to start and what to do if it doesn’t initially go to plan…
Congratulations – your baby has mastered the first step of managing simple and smooth purees. So now, it’s time to progress on to making those purees more lumpy. For some babies, they’ll adapt quickly. For others, this change can feel like a big new step and may take longer to learn.
Don’t worry if your baby does struggle a little – we’ve got plenty of help and advice.
When should I introduce lumps?
Don’t wait too long to start introducing lumpy food to your baby. You have a lovely window of opportunity during these first few weeks and months of weaning, when your baby is really open to new textures and tastes.
So as soon as your baby is comfortable with swallowing smooth purees from a spoon, start to reduce the degree of pureeing you’re doing. If you’re starting weaning at 6 months, most babies will be ready to be eating lumpier foods by 7 months.
Why do I need to make the food lumpy?
Introducing lumps and texture to your baby’s food is essential for your baby’s development. It’s the important step from smoother purees to chewing solid textures.
And this skill won’t just help babies tuck into the Sunday roast in a few months’ time; it’s also essential for developing the muscles they need to utter their first few words.
Does my baby need teeth to cope with lumpy food?
Surprisingly no. Don’t worry if your baby 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 the gums: if you feel them, they will be quite hard.
Hard baby gums are more than capable of getting to grips with first textures.
How do you introduce lumps?
Introducing lumps is a gradual process. Your baby’s first textured foods shouldn’t be much more than a puree, and any lumps should be small and soft.
4 ways to introduce lumps to your baby slowly and carefully:
- To make your baby’s first experience of lumps less startling, choose a meal that your baby’s already had in pureed form which you know your baby likes.
- Put a small amount on the tip of a baby spoon and place it just between his lips so he can suck it off
- 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
- Introduce lumps when your baby is most likely to be calm, usually lunchtime. He may be too hungry at his first morning feed time to take kindly to having to negotiate new textures, and too tired at teatime
In our forum, 3-little-princesses suggests: “At this stage, I mashed food with a fork rather than puree it and then gradually left it a little bit lumpier each time. Also, I added a little bit of couscous or baby pasta (soup pasta works just as well) to the purees I was using before to increase the texture gradually too.”
How might my baby react to lumps?
Don’t be alarmed if your baby’s first reaction is to gag. This may just be a surprise reaction to the lumps. Scoop up another spoonful and offer it again. After the initial shock, your baby may then suck it off the spoon.
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"I found that the lumps weren't so much the problem with my little one but the dryness - so I make sure I add a bit of extra sauce or water to thin thicker foods out," advises Beebee.
Babies don’t start chewing straight away – this is a big development milestone and a skill that will take a while to master. So always watch your baby carefully as they learn to negotiate these new soft lumps.
What if my baby refuses lumps?
Some babies prefer to have their lumpy food given to them separately, rather than encountering the occasional surprise lump in an otherwise runny puree.
So if your baby’s resistant, try offering a smooth carrot puree as usual, but leave some softly steamed carrot batons whole to have on the side.
If it’s clear your baby doesn’t like the new texture, for example by turning their head away, be guided by your baby. Go back to the purees for a couple of days, before trying a few soft lumps again.
Do persevere; this stage can take time, but is essential for your baby’s development.
"My twins were both on purees until they were 13 months old as one of them just couldn't handle lumps of any description" says Jennifer Morrow.
"Even mashed bananas were too lumpy and she'd just gag and vomit. I remember being really paranoid as I feared speech delay and poor muscle tone.
"However, I just left it a few weeks and tried again. They got there in the end!"