Introducing Food Textures

by Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

"Hey Mom, there are lumps in my food!"

Lumpier and chewier foods help develop your baby's oral (mouth) skills and build muscle tone. This important developmental step can influence how well your baby eats, speaks and makes facial expressions.

When your baby is eight to nine months old, you can begin introducing different textures into her food. You can begin with tiny, soft, unnoticeable lumps in your baby's foods. At first, she may selectively spit out these lumps, but in time, she will master the ability to control these little lumps in her mouth and swallow them. Slowly, you can move on to introducing mashed, ground or chopped table foods. To introduce textures simply mix some textured foods into your baby's smooth, pureed baby food.

Examples of foods that can be mixed with baby food to add texture include:

  • Fork-mashed banana
  • Mashed avocado
  • Mashed tofu
  • Puffed rice
  • Iron-fortified baby cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Cooked rice
  • Fork-mashed baked potato (no skin)
  • Fork-mashed baked sweet potato, butternut or acorn squash
  • Cooked pastina (or very small, mashed pieces of pasta)
  • Melted cheese (stirred into food and allowed to cool before serving)

Continue to feed your baby softly, pureed baby foods for most of the meal, and transition to more textures over a six- to eight-month period. All children develop at a different pace, and many children are very sensitive to textures. If your baby is having a tough time, just take it slowly, and discuss the behavior with your child's healthcare provider.

Tips for smooth acceptance

To smooth the way for introducing textures, here are few tips that will help you out:

  • Always feed your baby in a "seated position."
  • Don't be in a rush. Introduce new food textures one at a time and slowly add different ones.
  • Start with foods your baby likes.
  • Introduce new textures with other "smooth" baby foods that you know your baby will eat.
  • Alternate new textures with familiar ones, this may help keep your baby interested.

"Chunky" Recipes

Apple Carrot Casserole
  2 tablespoons fresh apple puree (or baby food)
  2 tablespoons fresh carrot puree (or baby food)
  1 tablespoon cooked pastina or finely chopped spaghetti

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together. Warm slightly (optional) and serve. Makes one serving.

Fruity Breakfast Cereal
  2 tablespoons rice baby cereal
  2 tablespoons peach puree (or baby food)
  2 tablespoons pear puree (or baby food)
  1 tablespoon fork mashed cooked rice
  2-3 tablespoons of breast milk or formula

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together. Warm slightly (optional) and serve. Makes one serving.

Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). Raised by parents who love fresh foods and entertaining, their mom, a gourmet cook, ensured that they were well-equipped with extraordinary skills in the kitchen. Both with long track records of business success, they decided to combine their skills in the kitchen with their knowledge of healthy foods and children to create Fresh Baby.

Cheryl and Joan put a modern twist on the conventional wisdom that when you make it yourself, you know it's better. Their goal at Fresh Baby is to make the task of raising a healthy eater a little bit easier for all parents. Fresh Baby's breastfeeding accessories and baby food making supplies provide parents with practical knowledge and innovative tools to support them in introducing their children to great tasting, all-natural foods - easily and conveniently.

Copyright © Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.