If you’re about to start your baby on solids, or have started purees and are wondering where to go from there, you’re in the right place.
Before you begin any solids you need to make sure your baby is ready. This typically happens between 5 – 7 months of age unless there’s a medical indication to start sooner.
Some parents start with Baby Led Feeding or a combination of that and purees. If you choose to start with purees, that stage doesn’t last very long so you need to know when and how to progress to more solid food.
The answer involves patience.
The first step is to start increasing the textures. You’ll know baby is ready to progress from smooth purees to a thicker texture is when they can take a spoonful in their mouth and keep most of the food in their mouth. If you’ve been doing smooth purees, try for a fork – mashed type texture, or still slightly chunky if using a blender (but check for larger chunks). Start with smaller portions of the new texture at the beginning of the meal, and save some smooth purees for at the end of the meal. You can gradually increase the amount of new texture each day.
When you notice them making chewing motions and moving the food around in their mouths, and are able to keep most of the food in their mouth, its time to progress again.
You can also start giving your baby dissolvable finger foods like cereal puffs or very very soft vegetables or fruit. This allows baby some independence in self-feeding and lets them work in their pincer and palmer grasps. Independent feeding is messy, but it can make the experience more enjoyable for them.
When you start giving your baby age-appropriate table foods, offer a variety of textures. Make sure that they are prepared properly and are cut into the size of an adult index finger. This makes it easier for them to grasp and reduces the chances of them choking.
When changing textures, this is not the time to start mixing in spices into their favourite foods. Focus only on the texture change during this time.
Babies should be eating age-appropriate finger foods by approximately 8 months of age. You don’t want to linger on purees for too long. Studies show that the introduction of lump solids later (after 9 months) is correlated to difficulties with food acceptance later in life.
Things to keep in mind when you are increasing texture from purees to solids:
- Your baby may eat less as they get used to the new texture, but this is ok and is usually temporary.
- Your baby will get messy
- Your baby will gag
Gagging is a normal reflex to protect your airway. An increase in gagging during feeding solids is very normal as your baby becomes accustomed to the new textures and learns how to chew and swallow. Having the knowledge of what to do in an emergency is very helpful when moving to solids. Babies are well designed and are very good at protecting their airways, but having the CPR and choking basics is a great idea.
We are a team of Registered Nurses across North America who use evidence-informed research, and a HUGE dose of empathy with each family we work with. Click here to find a Mama Coach in your area.