Ideally, the baby food puree stage shouldn’t last all that long. As baby gets accustomed to different tastes, and the process of mashing and swallowing, he’ll quickly be ready to try more textured foods. Right on the heels of that will be his developing pincer grasp, which will enable him to eat finger foods, too.
Baby Boy is now 8 months old, and has been eating progressively more chunky and textured foods for the past few weeks. I’ve also experimented off and on with finger foods, but have started in earnest now, as I’ve noticed his pincer grasp developing quite nicely.
So how to transition from the purees to real table food? Here is what I’m doing:
1. Gradually decreasing the smoothness of the purees so they become thicker and chunkier with more texture. Homemade baby food is rarely quite as fine as store-bought anyway, which is actually a good thing, because it’s far more like real food that baby will eventually eat. But you don’t want her to be stuck on purees forever (It can happen: if textured foods aren’t introduced soon enough, some babies refuse to try them and can be difficult to wean completely to table food.) in any case! Some babies will go with ease from purees to real solids, but my Baby Boy has a strong gag reflex still, and also doesn’t really seem to understand the concept of mashing. Inhaling is more his style. A few times, I gave him some “real” table food, and he wasn’t really quite sure how to handle it. However, when I offer him some purees that are quite chunky, he handles them fairly well, so now we’ve been able to move on from there.
You can create a chunkier texture simply by processing the food for a shorter time in the blender or food processor. Also, if you’ve been adding liquids of some kind (breast milk, formula, water or broth, for example) to help thin out the purees, you could start eliminating those to retain a more accurate texture of the food in question. I also recently read a suggestion to grate foods on a grater instead of pureeing them.
2. Offering certain foods in their whole state for him to gum and mash. Foods perfect for this are:
- soft, ripe, melons on the rind
- sweet potato fries
- peach slices (although these can be stringy, so watch carefully)
- soft-cooked green beans (canned or French cut)
3. Experimenting with finger foods. Certain vegetables and fruits lend themselves well to a baby perfecting her pincer grasp. Anything is game as long as it is soft, either naturally or cooked. If baby is eating grains, I have read suggestions to roll the pieces of food in dry crushed cereal, or rice cereal, or oatmeal to help give more of a grip to a struggling eater. You can cut the food into small pieces or cubes (small enough to go down her throat whole without gagging or choking), or you can take a cue from Baby Led Weaning, and cut it in a French-fry shape so that she can hold it in her fist and eat what’s sticking out the top. Some healthy finger food ideas (no Puffs or Cheerios!):
- sweet or white potato (diced or in sticks)
- diced banana
- very soft cooked carrots, diced or in sticks (Be careful: I find that carrots sometimes harden back up as they cool, so make sure they are truly soft enough for baby to mash.)
- diced cooked squash or pumpkin
- diced or sliced cooked apples
- soft cut green beans
- beans (any kind)
- cooked peas
- broccoli ( baby can hold the “trunk” and eat the “foliage”)
- diced peaches and nectarines or very ripe pears
- chicken thigh meat, cut in strips or diced
- ground meat of any kind
- grated cheese
One thing my Certain Little Someone enjoyed as a fledgling self-feeder was fishing peas out of mashed potatoes. Simply stir some cooked peas gently into a dish of mashed potatoes, and let baby fish them out with his fingers! Fun and filling!
4. Moving on to grains when ready. I’m holding off on the grains for now, but once we start with those, a whole new world of finger foods opens up, including:
- homemade teething biscuits
- small pieces of bread, any kind (tortillas, wraps, sliced, rolls, etc.)
- organic and all-natural cereals (this for a treat, not a mainstay in the diet)
Spicy Diced Sweet Potatoes
- 1 sweet potato
- dash paprika
- dash cumin
- dash garlic powder
- dash onion powder
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Peel the sweet potato and dice. Steam until easily pierced with a fork. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; add sweet potatoes. Stir and saute the sweet potatoes for a few minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle with seasonings. Cool until safe for baby to touch and eat; then serve.
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