Lumps and finger foods: a growing diet
By eight months your baby is likely to be happy taking solids from a spoon. If you haven’t started already, now’s a good time for introducing soft lumps and more interesting textures to their food. This is essential for babies to learn how to chew and to develop their jaw muscles needed for speech. Experience with new textures now might make them less likely to reject lumpy foods later on.
As they become more familiar with soft lumps and they’re keen to start feeding themselves you can also introduce finger foods. This is a great way of giving them more independence at mealtimes and letting them try even more interesting textures. They still might not have a lot of teeth, but they’ll chew well with their gums!
At meal times they might enjoy eating their meals with the rest of the family and they’re probably keen to handle their own spoon or even eat with their hands.
Mashed lumpy food:
At around 7 months you can begin to offer thicker purees, mashed and soft lumpy textures. Try for small soft lumps in a thick puree. For example, soft foods should be able to be easily squashed on the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
Some examples include:
- Mashed ripe avocado or banana
- Cooked and mashed vegetables and fruit
- Cottage cheese
- Cooked and mashed beans and lentils
- Cooked finely minced meat and chicken
- Cooked and mashed fish (be careful to remove any bones)
From 7-8 months as baby becomes more familiar with soft lumps and is keen to start self-feeding you can also introduce soft finger foods. This is a great way for them to learn, experiment and be more independent at meal times. It’ll also improve their hand-eye coordination.
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. It also reduces the risk of choking.
Good examples to start with include:
- Slices of soft, very ripe fruit like banana, avocado or peaches (without skin, pips or seeds)
- Very soft well-cooked veggie pieces, like carrots, pumpkin or kumara (peeled)
Once they get the hang of finger foods, try:
- Soft cooked pasta pieces
- Steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets
- Grated or thinly sliced cheese
- Grapes cut into quarters
- Soft toast or bread fingers (thin slices or ‘soldiers’)
- Slices of soft tofu
- Egg omelettes cut into sticks
- Polenta, cooked, cooled and cut into sticks
Minced and finely chopped foods
Once your little one is around 8-9 months and eating more soft lumpy textures and finger foods you can introduce minced and finely chopped foods.
Some examples are:
- Finely chopped raw salad vegetables e.g. lettuce, cucumber, tomato
- Peeled and grated apple, pear or carrot.
- Cooked then minced, shredded or finely chopped meat, chicken or seafood
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.
To reduce the risk of choking, offer foods that are an appropriate texture for your baby’s stage of development. For more information on reducing the risks of food-related choking see the Ministry of Health guidance here.
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.