There’s no set point at which your baby should make the transition from runny purees to solid foods. The stage at which he becomes ready for chunkier textures depends on many factors, from his physical development to his sensitivity to texture. But as a guide, it’s wise to try to gradually alter the consistency of his foods from seven months onwards, and aim to have stopped pureeing completely by 12 months.
Is your baby ready for solids?
Signs that your baby may be ready to move on from purees include:
- Being able to sit up independently, with good head control
- Starting to put objects in his mouth, and explore them with his tongue and gums
- Having some teeth – although this isn’t essential
- Taking puree from a spoon and swallowing them with minimal gagging or spitting
- Showing an interest in the foods at family meals
Babies may be ready for lumpier foods at any point from weaning until 12 months or even beyond. Some don’t show any obvious signs of needing to move on from purees; if this is the case, introducing more textured foods is likely to be a matter of trial and error. Here’s what to do if your baby refuses lumps.
How to stop pureeing
When you think your baby is ready for more solid textures, try the following tactics:
- Thicken your baby’s purees by blending them for a shorter amount of time, or adding another ingredient such as thoroughly mashed potato or thick baby rice
- Use a food mill rather than a blender to prepare foods, giving a slightly thicker texture
- Divide a portion of food into two parts. Puree one half, grate or mill the other half, and mix them together
- Grate some food and mix it into a smooth puree or yoghurt – you could try grating apple and combining it with yoghurt
- Offer some solid finger food, such as well cooked carrots or chunks of banana, alongside a pureed meal or as a snack
Getting used to lumps
It’s normal for babies to take some time to adjust to more solid foods. It’s important to persevere, but don’t rush it. Make mealtimes fun and reassuring, with lots of praise when he attempts a new texture, keeping calm if he refuses. Remember, it can take up to 20 trials before a baby accepts a new food or texture.
It’s also quite common for babies to gag as they get used to non-pureed food. This can be frightening for you, but is actually your baby’s way of stopping himself from choking by pushing the food out of his throat. Here are a few tips to help him learn to chew.
Once your baby is used to eating lumpier food, you can move on to mashing it, and then to chopping it finely. Bear in mind that some textures are harder for your baby than others – for example, he may be happily taking most of his foods mashed by 10 months old, but you might still need to puree meat for him, particularly if he hasn’t got any teeth yet.
If your baby is reluctant to accept any textured food, or if he seems to be gagging excessively, ask your health visitor for advice – but remember that with patience, most feeding problems resolve themselves in time.