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Transitioning your child from purees to regular meals

I put up a poll recently to ask mothers if their little ones were stuck on purees and a whopping 56% of almost 50 respondents voted STUCK!

I went further and asked for the age groups of the children from their parents and 60% of the children STUCK were above 12 months, mostly 2 year old toddlers and I was surprised.

Babies ought to transition from smooth meals to other textures from 7/8 months and not when they are toddlers. Toddlers can be very willful and so it will require patience and hard work to help them move from purees to regular family foods.

I can really feel the pain of the parents, I am a parent of a toddler who though with a healthy appetite is still a handful. I also know adulting is a lot of work – with 99 problems and all (insert eye roll); baby food and weaning should not be a problem for you. Realistically speaking however, baby food is a big deal for most of us. The fact that we are having more ready to eat baby foods on the store shelves of supermarkets aisles is not also helping matters. These foods (on the store shelves)are nutritious; don’t get me wrong but they do very little to support our babies’ needs to develop good eating and motor skills.

Dear Parents, you still need to put in the work and effort required to raise a well balanced child by offering varieties of well balanced foods and not just convenient meals all the time. This also includes breast feeding and or formula which are very important for nourishing little ones even alongside complementary meals. There is more to food than cereals and purees and this is what we preach at Baby Grubz and we provide support in form of wholesome recipes and videos to parents to help teach feeding and eating skills to their children.

Research shows and supports that exposing babies to textures and learning self-feeding skills from early on is extremely important for future eating habits and may also help reduce picky eating.

“Lundy et al. (1998) compared the willingness of infants at the weaning and post-weaning stage (4–12 months) and infants in their second year (13–22 months) to accept foods of different textures. The older infants more readily accepted textured foods than younger infants, attributed to their greater experience with textured foods. Similarly, Blossfeld et al. (2007b) reported that 12-month-old infants with prior experience of carrots in a variety of forms (tastes and textures) consumed more chopped carrots than infants who had not experienced such variety. These studies suggest that acceptance of textured foods may be supported by exposure to foods prepared to have different textures.”

There are 4 methods of transitioning from purees to regular meals that I will share with you today:

Baby Steps method – Under 12 months

This method is the easiest and simplest to implement and is mostly suitable for babies under 12 months but may be attempted for older kids still stuck on purees.

Step one – Increase thickness of smooth purees
It is important not to change texture from silky smooth if that is it what your child is used to; we want to move from known to unknown in the most delicate approach.
This method involves slightly thickening the consistency of your child’s food ever so lightly that your child will not notice and then plan to increase the consistency week on week – first so that you can measure progress and also that your child is slowly eased into the new texture – you can do this by adding extra tablespoon weekly of protein serving (for example)to your usual puree blend.
Step two – Changing texture
After 4/6 weeks of Step one; you should attempt transitioning to 90% smooth blend. Your child’s response will help you learn if the child is ready to move forward. If you get the green light, aim for 80% smoothness following week

Baby Led Method – Over 12 months

This method gives control to your child and works best in children above 12 months and in toddlers.

Step one – Two spoons method
This method is an invitation to your child to begin to explore feeding on their own. This should be done ideally once a day around when your child is hungriest. Dip a spoon into your child’s puree and place it in your child’s hands to encourage self feeding while you hold another spoon to show your baby how to do it –pausing in between to allow for trial or even alternate feeds between your and your baby.

  1. Step two – Small Chops method (a.ka Finger Foods)

This should remind you of a typical Nigerian party canapés. This means you need to throw a tiny platter – not in the regular party style but a kid friendly one.
Your child’s small chop platter should feature foods that are soft and easily mashed by their gums. This is not to force your child to eat but to help your child interact with food through play as well as for sensory processing – Sight – colours, Smell – flavours, feel and taste – textures

Finger foods should be taken from the different foods groups such as:

Very soft cooked vegetables: Steamed carrots, peas, corn, sweet potato
Ripe fruits (Removed seeds and cut to safe shapes to avoid choking: Pieces of banana, avocado or pear
Soft proteins: Boiled beans or eggs, soft meats or fish, cooked Chicken, soft cheese
Cooked pasta and cereal

Other helpful suggestions:

  1. Do not rely only on foods that are available instantly such as breast milk and cereals, explore other forms of meals such as swallows, smoothies, scrambles, muffins, pottages etc. One jar of Baby Grubz meal can be prepared into all of these meals!
  2. Feed your baby variety from all the foods groups – intentionally try out new foods every week. All Baby Grubz meals are from different food groups with each having it’s own unique tastes, flavors and can be combined with so many ingredient to achieve varying consistencies.
  3. Always supervise your children and offer foods in portions that will not make your child choke on their foods while eating.
  4. Nutrient density is the goal – please ensure that every spoonful your child consumes is loaded with nutrients.

Do you still need further help?

You can request a consultation by filling in the form below.

Lundy B., Field T., Carraway K., Hart S., Malphurs J., Rosenstein M., et al. (1998). Food texture preferences in infants versus toddlers. Early Child Dev. Care 146, 69–85. 10.1080/0300443981460107

Blossfeld I., Collins A., Kiely M., Delahunty C. (2007b). blossand the role of early experiences. Food Qual. Prefer. 18, 396–404. 10.1016/j.foodqual.2006.03.022

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