It is exciting to watch your baby eating solid foods and showing an interest in your food. Here are some ways to fit your baby’s feedings in with the whole family.
Changing food textures for your baby
Depending on what you’re cooking, you can alter food textures using simple kitchen tools such as a potato masher, blender or food processor.
Use your kitchen’s blender for even blending of meat and vegetables and a potato masher for softer foods such as potato, squash and apple. You can purée, mince or chop food using the different blender settings or by adjusting the amount of time for blending. You can also add milk or formula to the food when blendingto thin the consistency.
smooth apple sauce
chopped or sliced apple
chunky apple sauce
Think, for example, of a dinner meal of chicken breast with potato and broccoli for the family. You can easily purée, mince or chop the chicken, potato and broccoli to a texture that is appropriate for your baby’s chewing ability. You cook once but simply alter the food for your baby’s level of texture. Remember that you may have to offer the food a few times on the plate on different days before your baby is ready to try it.
Cook your baby’s food without adding salt or sugar. You can either add salt, sugar or strong spices to the meal after you have served a portion to your baby or you can cut out the salt and sugar for everyone.
Moving from one texture to another
From six to 12 months of age, your baby will become better able to eat new foods, try new textures and feed themselves. Transitioning (moving) from one texture to the next is important to teach your baby about chewing. Since every baby develops at their own pace, be patient with their progress, but continue to offer new textures.
There are three common textures for solid baby food:
- Smooth, lump-free texture for baby's first introduction to solids
- Start with thin puree, gradually thicken when baby is ready
- Use infant cereal to thicken, breastmilk or formula to thin
- Examples: smooth applesauce, rice cereal, sweet potato mash
- Lumpy, fine chopped foods
- Helps teach baby about chewing and coordinating tongue movement
- Examples: cottage cheese, soft moist ground meats, small well-cooked pasta (pastina, stars)
- Thicker, coarser texture of food
- Ideal when teeth start coming, but many babies can manage with their gums
- Baby can use pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger) to pick up food
- Examples: pieces of toast, elbow macaroni, chopped cubes of meat or cheese
Breast milk and formula
Babies still require regular breast milk or formula feeds when eating solid foods. The amount may vary depending on their intake of food. Offer your child solid foods before offering breast milk or formula. They are more likely to try new solid foods when they are very hungry.
Water and juice
Babies who are less than six months old do not need water. They actually need all the nutrients, fats and calories from breast milk or formula. From six to 12 months, water is acceptable if it is a very hot day, but otherwise it would still be best to offer breast milk, formula or 3.25% milk instead.
Juice contains a lot of sugar; avoid giving it to babies and young children.
Teaching your baby about your family’s mealtimes not only teaches them about eating and satisfying hunger but also about family traditions and being social together. Try to eat together as a family to save time and introduce new foods and textures. You can also use this time to model healthy eating habits for your baby to observe and copy.