Baby food texture and consistency is a very interesting topic to discuss as I receive many questions about when to move from purees to lumpy foods or comments from parents concerned because their toddlers still ask for purees at 18/20 months of age or, on the contrary, babies asking for small bites totally refusing the purees.
Let’s start from the basics. The three stages of baby purees.
Stage 1, 2, 3. What does it mean?
STAGE 1: we are talking about very running purees, almost liquid. Usually made with one ingredient only. This is the very first stage of baby purees, introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.
The consistency of stage one baby food is just a bit thicker than breastmilk or baby formula. That’s what your baby has been enjoying since birth, so it’s a smooth transition.
To thin the main food you can use either breastmilk or baby formula. There are other options too (broth, warm water). Check out this other video about “how to thin your baby food”.
That’s the stage where you will see a lot of food all around your baby’s mouth, half in and half out 🙂
STAGE 2: The texture increases as the puree has a thick and creamy consistency. Usually babies between 8 and 10 months enjoy Stage 2 purees.
It’s a very smooth transition from stage 1 to 2, simply add less liquid to the baby food. Your baby is getting used to more texture and is learning how to swallow nicely. Also, you will notice less baby food around the mouth 🙂
STAGE 3: We start adding soft chunks of food in the puree. Babies around 10 months of age are able to enjoy the small lumps. The first teeth should have appeared and gums are strong enough to mash soft food and swallow well.
FINGER FOODS: This can be either the stage right after Stage 3 baby food OR at the same time of Stage 2/3. Don’t be surprised if your baby will enjoy both a meal of baby puree and one of finger food.
Small pieces of soft food that your baby/toddler can easily grab with his/her hands and enjoy. The pieces should be small enough not to be a chocking hazard (blueberry size) and soft enough to be easily squeezed with your fingers, always to avoid any chocking risk.
Why is so important to add texture to your baby food?
Learning how to eat small pieces of food strengthens your baby’s jaw muscles and is part of a bigger development process related to how to learn to speak. More researches demonstrate the relation between feeding, pre-speech and speech relationships in infants and children. It seems that the development in one area goes parallel with the development in the other area. It is also interesting to note how very often feeding problems are related to speech problems. I found this article very interesting and I would like to share it with you.
How to move up and add more and more texture?
Slowly, again, following your baby’s pace.
- You can add less liquid and make the puree thicker.
- You can use a fork to mash your baby food instead of a food processor or simply use the food processor for less time.
- You can add ingredients that give more texture: mash a strawberry with a fork and add it to some yogurt. Mash a steamed carrot with a fork and add it to a veggie puree. Add some cooked millet to your veggie mix.
- Finger foods are such a great way to let the baby experiment and learn how to self-feed. Any tender fruit chopped in small tiny pieces, steamed veggies.
- Family meals where your baby can enjoy your presence and look at what’s inside your plate. Don’t be surprised if her little hands will try to grab something from your plate!!
BIG BIG BIG NOTE: there is no rule or strict timing.
Every baby is different and they develop with a different pace. That being said, as a general rule, you can start introducing more texture in your baby’s food one month after you started with the smooth puree, at around 7/8 months.
Some babies totally skip stage 1/2/3 and start with finger foods other babies switch from purees into mashed foods in few days or weeks, other babies like a mixed approach: baby purees and finger foods at the same time.
The Baby Led Weaning method (baby that feeds herself with finger foods starting from the beginning without going through the puree phase) just started from the simple recognition that some babies don’t like purees and don’t like to be fed. We are all different and babies are too!!
LOL, what to do with the months of frozen stage 1 baby purees in the freezer if your baby skips stages and runs into small bites/finger foods in few weeks? I would transform them in lovely soups where you can add some pasta or rice or quinoa for texture or in a pasta sauce (veggie marinara!!).
I just started solid foods. Why my baby is refusing the spoon?
If you offer the very first spoon of solid food to your baby, 9 times out of 10 he will push the spoon out with his tongue. It’s totally normal!
It’s the “tongue thrust reflex”, a natural reflex that protects the infant against choking.
The reflex should gradually go away at around 6 months of age, exactly when you should start introducing solids. And the absence of the reflex is one of the sign that your baby is ready for solids.
Still, if you try offering the spoon few couple meals and the reflex is still there, it simply means that your baby is not ready yet. It’s totally fine. Wait one or two weeks and try again. Every baby is different and every baby develops at a different pace.
When can I tell that my baby is done eating?
Super easy, she will tell you!! If she turns her head away, the meal is finished 🙂
My baby only eats purees, she refuses lumpy food.
It can happen: your baby will gag or even vomit when offered a small piece of food or she will spit out the pieces and eat the smooth puree. My little Alex used to meticulously remove with the spoon any tiny lump of food from the purees.
What to do? Don’t worry, be patient and wait. In most cases, it’s just a matter of time. Your baby will learn how to chew and swallow properly and lumpy foods will not be a problem anymore.
Some babies don’t have any issue with the texture, but they simply don’t want to be fed. This is when the baby led feeding approach can really help: letting your baby feed himself, having control of the food he’s eating.
No matter which feeding method you choose, remember that meal times should be fun and not stressful, both for you and your baby. Eating is a pleasure of life, even at 6 months of age.
That being said, if you are concerned about your baby/toddler proper growth, if your toddler totally refuses textured food and even finger food, my suggestion is to consult your pediatrician for further examinations.
If you are interested in more information about how to start the baby food experience, you might also want to check these posts:
The information I shared with you are meant as a guide, does not replace professional medical advice. As always, I recommend that you thoroughly discuss any feeding issues with your pediatrician as generalities may not apply to your baby.