3 min read
Written by Charlotte Stirling-Reed BSc, MSc, RNutr. Specialist in maternal, infant and child nutrition.
Introducing lumps and new textures into your baby’s mealtimes can seem like a daunting process for many parents. Here, we take you through the steps on how best to introduce them and at what stage of your baby’s journey you should aim to offer them.
Many parents may be surprised to learn that babies benefit from being introduced to different textures quite quickly on their weaning journey. Feeding your baby lumps and finger foods alongside baby food pouches is important in the development of their munching and chewing skills as well as getting them exposure to a variety of different foods.
When to Introduce Lumps During Weaning
There is currently limited evidence to provide any set recommendations, however, it has been suggested it can be beneficial to offer your baby lumps before nine months of age.
Some research has also shown that early introduction to lumps and textures is advantageous for food acceptance and variety in a baby’s diet.
Lumps as Part of Baby-Led Weaning
Traditionally, parents would start the weaning process with purées, however in more recent years the baby-led weaning (BLW) concept, where your baby feeds themselves, has been a popular method and is a great way of introducing textures and finger foods to your baby early on.
There is no right or wrong way to your baby’s weaning journey. You might start with one method or adopt a combination of both and that is absolutely fine. Every child and parent are different so when starting out with lumps, remember to allow time and work at your baby’s own pace, this will make it an enjoyable journey for you both.
If your baby appears to dislike certain textures and foods, remember not to give up at the first sight of rejection. It can take 10 or more times for a baby to accept these new flavours and textures.
Progressing from Smooth Food to Lumps
If you’re starting with purées, be sure that these start off very runny and smooth (blending using milk or water) and then thicken up (adding less water or milk) ideally over the space of a few weeks.
As your baby moves forward in their journey and is able to take on less liquid foods, move onto thicker textures and offer some finger foods. Doing this gradually will hopefully make the transition to lumps a smoother process.
From six-to-eight months, it’s a good idea to offer finger foods. However, make sure these are around the width and length of an adult finger.
The food should be soft enough for you to squash easily between your finger and thumb and for your baby to squash with their tongue. Try using a serrated crinkle knife or cutter or rolling the pieces of food in ground nuts or oats so it is easier for your baby to grip.
Once your baby reaches nine-to-eleven months, they should be able to grasp smaller bitesize pieces of food. You can try offering these for variety at mealtimes, making it fun for your baby whilst also developing their fine motor skills (which we know is so important early on in a child’s life). You may also want to offer slightly firmer foods depending on how confident your baby is with chewing and how many teeth they have.
Choking During Weaning
Understandably, with the introduction to lumps and finger foods comes the fear of choking. However, studies suggest that there is no great risk to choking compared to offering purées. Incorporating these foods early on can actually help your baby deal with these foods more easily.
Babies also have a natural and protective gag reflex which you will see many times in the early stages of weaning with lumps and finger foods. This is completely normal, and you can head here for more information on the differences between gagging and choking.
We hope this guide will help you with introducing lumps to your little one! For more foodie help and advice, be sure to explore our nutritionist’s blog full of expert support and recommendations.