New textures and flavours: The next stage

New textures and flavours: The next stage

Once your baby is familiar with first foods and is happy taking them from a spoon, it’s time to start introducing new foods, flavours and textures. Offering a greater variety of foods will help baby develop and learn to eat and like new foods and textures. At around 7 months you can begin to offer thicker purees, mashed and soft lumpy textures. From 6-7 months you can also move onto Wattie’s® stage 2 foods which have a wider selection of tastes and textures to keep baby interested.

Getting those Lumps Just Right

Here are a few things you’ll need to know:

Continue to offer baby’s usual milk before solid foods. At 7 months of age, breast milk (or formula) is still the most important food. At this stage aim for 2-3 solid meals per day. Baby may eat between 2 tablespoons and ½ cup of food at each meal, but every baby’s appetite is different.

Food variety – offer new foods and more variety from the four food groups:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Grain foods
  • Legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry, lean red meat
  • Milk and milk products (full-fat)

This helps baby discover and learn to like new flavours, which is an important part of the food journey and establishing healthy taste preferences. Baby may initially appear to dislike some new foods, and you might need to repeatedly offer these foods at different meals before they accept them. Eating similar foods as the rest of the family helps baby become familiar with them. Also try to give your baby lots of positive encouragement when they try something new.

Moving to thicker purées, mashed/lumpy texture foods – try fork mashing a banana into small pieces. That’s about the texture you should be aiming for with their new menu. You can also offer thicker purées with small soft lumps. Harder lumps, like whole peas in a sauce, will be too much for them. They’ll struggle to separate them while eating and run the risk of choking.

Jaw development – these mashed and soft lumpy foods are important as they learn to chew, it encourages jaw muscle development and tongue flexibility and movement.

Gumming it - most babies can still learn to chew soft lumps with just their gums. Don’t worry if their teeth haven’t come in yet.

Getting to know food - experience with new textures and flavours now might make them less likely to reject lumpy food later on.

A few lumpy foods to try:

  • Mashed banana
  • Mashed ripe avocado
  • Cooked mashed veggies e.g. kumara, cauliflower
  • Cooked and very finely flaked fish in sauce (remove the skin and bones)
  • Cooked and finely minced chicken or meat
  • Cooked mashed egg – like you have in an egg sandwich
  • Lentil dahl
  • Porridge
  • Farex® stage 2 baby cereals
  • Wattie’s® stage 2 baby foods

Finger foods:

If your baby is happily eating lumpier solids, from around 7-8 months you can also start to introduce soft finger foods. This will give them a bit more independence at meal times, make food more interesting and help develop their hand-eye coordination skills.

Start with soft textured finger foods, and cut into shapes which are easy for baby to pick up with little hands and bring to their mouth.

Good finger foods to start with:

  •  Slices of soft, very ripe fruit like banana, mango or nectarine (without skin, pips or seeds)
  •  Very soft well-cooked veggie pieces, like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli or kumara (peeled)

Once they get the hang of soft finger foods, try:

  • Soft cooked pasta pieces
  • Grated cheese
  • Sliced hard-boiled egg (well cooked)
  • Soft toast or bread fingers (thin slices or ‘soldiers’)
  • Puffed crackers (that dissolve in the mouth)
  • Cooked tender slices of meat or chicken – finely chopped

Make sure baby is sitting upright when eating and stick close by, you’ll want to supervise them to make sure they don’t choke on anything.

References:

Ministry of Health. 2021. Healthy Eating Guidelines for New Zealand Babies and Toddlers (0–2 years old). Wellington: Ministry of Health.

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.

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