If you start solids by giving your baby purees, you might be wondering when it's time to bring in more textured foods.
What to watch for
There's no hard and fast rule, but in general, all you need to do is to watch your child: If they are handling the smooth purees easily, aren't pushing much food back out with their tongue, and are moving the food around in their mouth without trouble, you can start to offer foods that are slightly more textured.
When to start
This will likely happen between 6-8 months
, depending on when you started solids.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind:
Blend the food just a little less.
If your baby is used to very smooth purees, step things up by simply not blending the foods quite as thoroughly. (Think of the difference between the texture of baby rice cereal and that of instant oatmeal, or smooth applesauce versus a kind that has small yet soft chunks.)
Mix in some Stage 2 foods.
If you're using purchased baby food, start offering some of the foods labeled Stage 2. Include them in the rotation of your baby's daily foods so that you are offering both Stage 1 and Stage 2 alternately before moving over to just Stage 2. This will give your baby a chance to learn how to manipulate the more textured foods.
Start with small tastes.
Some babies will catch on faster than others, but you won't know that until that first bite, so keep the amount of food on the spoon small to avoid overwhelming them.
More parents are skipping purees and simply offering the same table foods that they eat.
Baby-led weaning works best when you have time to let the baby explore, when you are comfortable with your baby learning to move foods around in their mouths (which will likely lead to some gagging), and if you aren't worried about immediately replacing their breast milk or formula intake with solids.
But the big benefit is that you don't have to make separate food! Good foods to start with are avocado, mashed or roasted sweet potato, apples roasted until very soft, banana, or very ripe pear.
Amy Palanjin is a writer, a mother, and creator of Yummy Toddler Foods.