4 Tips for Trying Out New Textures With Baby

6-9 Months

Sometime between 6 and 9 months old, most babies will be ready to transition from pureed foods to thicker mashed foods, and finally to finger foods. It’s going to be messy, and it’ll test your patience, but trying new foods and textures can be a lot of fun! Enjoy watching your baby learn how to eat, and take it one step at a time.

1

Choose food textures based on baby’s developmental stage

At around the 6-month mark, your baby may be ready to start solid foods. Look for these signs to see if she’s ready:

  • She can sit with support and has good head control
  • She can open her mouth for the spoon and close it over the spoon
  • She can move food into her mouth and swallow it

Start out with a thin, smoothly pureed, iron-rich food such as pureed meat or iron-fortified infant cereal. Next, try a single pureed veggie, such as green beans or carrots. If the puree is too thick, add a little breastmilk or iron-fortified formula to thin it out.

As your baby gets more experience with solid foods, the next step will be to transition to more advanced textures, like thicker purees and then mashed foods. Avocados, sweet potatoes and bananas are all great options for mashing. Every baby develops at her own pace, so pay attention to how your baby handles it when you introduce a new food texture.

2

Transition to finger foods and self-feeding

Between 8 and 9 months, you may see signs that your baby is ready to feed herself:

  • She can sit on her own
  • She starts picking up food with her fingers
  • She tries to grab the spoon and put it in her mouth
  • She is not as interested in purees
  • She starts making a chewing motion when she eats thicker, mashed baby foods

Now you can offer her the same healthy foods you have been providing, but with a modified texture. For example, offer soft-cooked, finely diced chicken and minced peaches, or thicker textured foods like oatmeal. As your baby’s eating skills develop, move on to easy-to-chew finger foods, such as steamed carrots and scrambled eggs.

To help your baby transition to solids and finger foods safely:

  • Keep a close eye when she is eating
  • Serve soft foods, diced or crushed into small, pea-sized pieces to avoid choking
  • Avoid foods that are small and round (like grapes or hot dog slices), sticky (like peanut butter or candy) or tough (like nuts or popcorn). These are considered choking hazards.

For more healthy finger food ideas, click here.

3

Let your baby take the lead

Pay attention to your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. A hungry baby will readily open her mouth for the spoon or even grab for it. We know you have 9 million things on your to-do list, but try to allow your baby to set the pace for feeding and go as slow as she wants. If baby is full, she may close her mouth for the spoon, turn her head away, repeatedly spit her food out or even throw food on the floor. When she lets you know she has had enough, stop feeding, even if she hasn’t eaten as much as you wanted.
4

Embrace the mess and practice patience

Babies learn how to eat and enjoy nutritious foods through all of their senses, especially touch and feel. Sure, she may spit a food out and a moment later put it back in her mouth. And to be honest, you’re probably going to end up with more food on the baby (and the floor) than in the baby, and this is OK too. Embrace the mess and let your baby play with her food!

Remember: A messy baby is a learning baby. And grandma and grandpa will love the photos!