Baby

Moving on

Many babies will now have their first teeth or in the meantime their gums will be strong enough to manage lumpier foods. So fruit and vegetables can be mashed rather than pureed, and foods like green beans and broccoli, that are more of a challenge when it comes to texture, can be introduced.

When your baby can manage these consistencies, you can then start to try mashed meat, fish, poultry, beans and pulses.

Trying new tastes

As your little one grows their sense of adventure does too, and from around six to twelve months they’ll become naturally open to trying new tastes. This is often called the ‘weaning window’.

Research shows that babies who are offered a wide variety of tastes and textures at this age are more likely to eat a wide range of foods later in childhood.

Tips to try

  • Offer two courses. Something savoury followed by something sweet one is a great way to offer a wide range of tastes and keep your little one interested.
  • Don’t mask challenging tastes with easier ones. Let your baby enjoy the true taste of veggies without the sweetness of fruit, or they may find them difficult to accept later on.
  • Try lots of different tastes. Babies often enjoy bitter or sour tastes like lemon, kiwi, oranges, peppers and spinach.
  • Try, try and try again. It can take 10 to 15 tries before a baby learns to like a new food, especially the more challenging ones, so don’t worry if your little one grimaces or refuses certain foods at first.

“I’ll never forget the time when I took my baby Jess for lunch with my in-laws and she wanted the lemon from my drink. Much to their horror, I gave it to her, peel and all. Yep, sure enough, she loved it! Mum: 1, In-Laws: 0!”

Nicola & baby Jess

Introducing texture

Put yourself in your baby’s position for a moment. The only texture your little one has experienced is thin, liquid milk, so new textures like soft cooked carrot, crispy rice cakes and even thick yogurt will feel wildly different. 

Introduce new textures gradually so your little one can develop the mouth control they need to enjoy different consistencies. 

Parents are often worried about choking during weaning, and you should always be close by when your baby is eating. But bear in mind that Mother Nature has designed the perfect safety mechanism by placing the gag reflex further forwards in babies’ mouths than in adults’. So, if their food slips towards the back of their mouths, they cough it up. Which they do frequently while learning to manage new textures.

Be patient and in time they will learn what to expect when trying different textures, which will give them, and you, more confidence with food.

Time for texture

Top tip

With your spoon you can place some of the food down the side of your baby’s mouth to encourage the sideways movements of the tongue; crucial for chewing harder food.

If I try and give Dylan yogurt with bits of fruit in it, he will eat the yogurt but spit out the bits. It is the same with tomatoes - he will eat the juicy inside part and then spit out the skin. He doesn’t like the two different textures at the same time.

Mike & baby Dylan

Shape up!

Just as taste is a whole new world to your baby, so is shape. A cube of cheese, a tube of pasta or a segment of orange are all exciting new shapes, and your little one will want to reach out to grip and grab these enticing-looking finger foods.

They might take it very seriously, or squeal with delight as they squish and squash a juicy piece of mango between their fingers. As they do so, they are boosting their hand-eye co-ordination and motor skills.

If their teeth haven’t come through yet, they can still enjoy finger foods as they can ‘gum’ them into small pieces ready for swallowing.

Top tip

Get creative with your baby and make shapes with their food. 

Keep it simple with a heart or circle, or if you are feeling creative try three different sized circles or triangles.

Fun plates to try