Is your baby ready to leap from Puree to Solids?
Is your baby ready to change from pureed food to “table foods”? Are you not sure quite how to manage this change over but think it’s “time” that your baby learnt to eat “proper food? What is “proper” food, anyway?? Read on for some useful hints on the when and the what of transitioning from mushy baby food into normal table foods!
What the heck is “Table food”?
There’s no need to break out into a cold sweat as “table food” is really anything that your baby is already eating in its pureed form, only you don’t have to go to the trouble of mushing it up! Any food that you and hubby eat that is age appropriate for your baby can be “table food” so there is no magical mystery about finding “table food”. Now you just have to get baby to eat your normal, everyday meal in solid form – so put away the blender! The next step is to relax! It really is quite easy to get your little one to go from pureed food to table foods. It all boils down to physical maturity (of your baby, not yourself!), fun and lots of mess – but hey, that’s what makes it fun!!
Is there a specific age to change from pureed to solid foods?
Nope, there is no mandatory age at which your toddler (or even your crawler!) can be started on table foods. Your baby will probably be giving you clues that he is ready long before YOU are ready to put up with the natural mess that is bound to ensue when you put a spoon and food in front of a baby! One important aspect is that a baby must be able to pick up food with his fingers so that he is able to feed himself. If your baby does not yet have teeth (yes, there are some babies of 8 months, or even older, who have not yet cut their first tooth!) he should be able to mash his food successfully with his gums! Molars are the teeth used to chew food and most babies will not even begin to cut their molars until somewhere between 10-16 months or older with the last set of molars only coming in when your toddler is around 2 years old. So, without those molars it is important that your baby can “gum” his food to mash it up in his mouth before swallowing it.
5 signs that might indicate to you that your baby is ready for table food:
1: He refuses to let you spoon feed him, more often than not
2: He turns away or even spits out pureed food
3: Grabs the spoon and tries to feed himself
4: He can mash up lumps and textures easily (in his mouth!)
5: His pincher grasp is developed and he can put food into his mouth successfully
Family dinners for baby?
It actually helps a lot to sit your baby in his high chair next to the table at mealtimes. This way he feels included, gets used to the special times you sit down to meals and can see that you are eating “table food” which is the same as that being offered to him.
Your first step in this transition from pureed to your table food should be to mash your baby’s food up with a fork, leaving some small “solid” bits in the mashed food. Once your baby is munching this kind of food happily, then you can just dice up your supper into small bite-sized pieces and put small quantities in his plate and allow him to try to feed himself. Have a damp cloth at the ready for the inevitable mess that is going to happen. Take a deep breath and try to make mealtimes fun times!
As a test to see whether your baby can manage to mush up the food in his mouth, try pinching whatever food you wish to give him between your thumb and index finger. If you can squash it, it should be ok for your baby to “gum” it, if he doesn’t yet have teeth! Also be aware that you should not salt or overspice any of the food you want to give to your baby, so this may mean that you have to take out a portion of whatever you are cooking for your supper before adding any seasoning.
8 helpful hints to get your baby started on table food:
1: Have patience.
Your baby will have his or her own preferences, just as we do! The first time you try him or her with a new taste don’t be surprised if your baby shakes his head in an emphatic “no, no, no!” – this brings us to point number 2
2: Lead by example.
If you are eating the same food as your baby, at the same time, he will be more likely to try out the new stuff!
3: Teething woes.
Be aware that when your baby is teething he may push away the table food as his gums are sore. If you think this is the case, then offer him soft, cool food like a yoghurt and forget about the solid food until his gums are no longer sore.
4: Favourites last.
Offer favourite food last! At mealtimes, introduce the new food first so that your baby doesn’t fill up on his favourites first before at least trying out the new veggie or fruit or protein.
5: Don’t give up.
Just because he doesn’t like a certain item on the first try, doesn’t mean he will always dislike it! So offer it again a day or two later.
6: Scary food.
Too much food put out at the same time can be overwhelming. So just put a few bites out at a time on his tray and replenish as necessary.
7: To give or not to give?
Be wary of leftovers and stick to fresh food. Apart from the risk of contamination when food is left in the fridge for 2-3 days it loses some of its nutrional value.
8: Last resort!
Last but not least….when your little cherub is refusing to eat table food, turn the solid food into ice lollies. You may be repulsed by an avocado ice lolly or a broccoli one, but kids are different and will probably eat them with gusto! Just about any pureed food can be frozen into an ice-lolly form and by this means you at least know he is getting what he needs, nutrionally speaking!
Always happy to read about your experience when YOU transitioned your baby from pureed to table food! Let me know in comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meantime, happy feeding!
Yours in newborn photography