Progressing through textures is an exciting part of your baby’s food journey! Every baby is unique, so the rate at which they progress will vary. Start with smooth purees, then mashed foods, progressing to minced and chopped foods and soft finger foods as baby develops eating and chewing skills.
Here are some tips to help you along the way:
First foods (around six months, not before four months)
Given your baby has only had milk for around the first six months of their lives, their first foods will need to be smooth and pureed. Baby rice cereal is a good first food because it is enriched with iron. Cooked pureed meats, vegetables or fruit are also good first choices. Enjoy watching your baby as they learn to eat by moving food from side to side in their mouth before swallowing, some of the facial expressions can be very entertaining indeed! Don't worry if your baby doesn't take much to begin with, it certainly is a big change from milk.
From six months onward
Once your baby is getting used to and can swallow smooth and pureed foods, you can start to introduce thicker purees, finely mashed foods and then progress to mashes with small soft lumps. Most babies can learn to chew soft lumps even if their teeth have not come through yet. The trick is making sure these lumps aren't too hard or too big or your baby might struggle. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the lump of food is soft enough for your baby to squash between their tongue and the roof of their mouth.
Mashes and soft lumps will help your baby learn to chew whilst also stimulating and strengthening the jaw muscles needed for speech. Older babies can react negatively to different food textures, so by introducing these earlier on, you have a better chance of them being less likely to reject lumpy food later and developing an adventurous eater.
From eight months onwards
This is the age to introduce your little one to lumpier, more textured foods – think soft lumps, minced, grated and finely chopped foods. You can add these foods to mashed foods to start with if preferred. Some good options are cooked minced meat, soft chopped up foods like steamed pumpkin or small pieces of cooked pasta. Continue to offer a variety of iron-rich foods, vegetables, fruits and grain (cereal) foods every day.
Finger foods can also be offered at this age which are great for learning to chew and to help with hand-eye coordination. Some finger food ideas are soft chopped fruit (skin and pips removed), cooked pasta, toast fingers, grated cheese, or cooked vegetable sticks.
It’s important to gradually increase the texture of your little one’s food to help develop their chewing skills. Make sure baby’s food is an appropriate soft texture and shape for their developmental stage and eating ability.
Young children with small air and food passages can easily choke, especially on small hard round foods. They are also still learning to move food around in their mouths and their biting and chewing skills are still developing.
Some foods should not be given to young children under three years as they may lodge in your babies or toddler’s throat and cause choking. Examples of problem foods are hard raw fruit or vegetables such as apple, carrot and celery, round foods such as whole cherry tomatoes or grapes, rounds of cooked sausage and hard whole nuts. To reduce the risk, you can remove the high risk parts of the foods (skin and pips), cook until soft and finely chop or mash or use a thin spread of smooth nut butters.
Besides the above, the best thing you can do to avoid choking is to always ensure baby is sitting down and to keep an eye on your baby whilst they are eating.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Infant Feeding Guidelines. Canberra: National Medical Research Council.
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.