Ok, so you’re up and running and on your very own weaning adventure; you’ve mastered those first tastes, and are starting to pack those essential nutrients into your baby’s diet – think protein, iron and omega 3 essential fatty acids to name a few.
Encouraging your baby to try lots of different nutrient dense foods is absolutely key.
However, I find that when it comes to the topic of texture lots of families hold off on introducing more textured foods because they worry that their baby will either reject the food or not be able to cope because they don’t yet have teeth to chew.
But, tackling lumps, bumps and texture is a really important milestone within weaning.
Don’t worry about the lack of teeth!
Firstly, let me dispel the myth that babies need teeth to chew.
Your baby’s teeth are sitting under the gums (if they haven’t already started to make an appearance), and their gums are actually very hard and will be able to tackle all kinds of textures.
If you’re going down a baby-led weaning approach, then your baby will naturally be exploring lots of different textures from the get-go from six months.
But even if you’re spoon feeding, don’t delay in starting to make meals less smooth, and more textured within a few weeks.
There is evidence to suggest that those who wait until their baby is over ten months are more likely to have a child that develops an aversion to certain textured foods, or simply become fussy as it’s not been gradually introduced from the start of weaning.
Take a gradual but swift approach
So, how to go about increasing texture in your baby’s meals? My advice is to take a gradual but swift approach. If you go from offering a puree-like consistency to straight up mashing, chances are your baby will find this too much of a big step.
Instead, at first make a slightly thicker, less blended version, and then once they’ve got used to this, try mashing whilst ensuring the food is still fairly chunk-free.
This gradual increase in texture will encourage your baby to adopt a more lateral tongue movement, which is another key learning step in mastering the art of eating.
Once they’re open to this, you’ve opened the door to chunkier, lumpier meals so progress quickly with these textures.
Some great foods to help your baby experience and get to grips with new textures include the likes of rice, couscous, bulgur wheat and mini baby pasta shapes.
And, like I said, finger foods are obviously a great way of getting baby to try new textures, as the attraction of something new on their tray or plate will be too much for them not to want to pick-up and put to their mouth.
Don’t forget to let your baby experience smooth food
A quick note for any baby-led weaners – it is actually important for your baby to experience the feeling of smooth food.
So whilst they are likely to be gumming or chewing away at a range of textured foods, give them a spoon and let them suss out smoother foods for themselves such as yoghurt or a puree as they’ll need to accept this too.
Most importantly, remember that every baby is completely different and will be ready to explore texture at different stages. It’s about following y
our baby’s lead and going at their individual pace.
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