We feel comfortable in our decision and settle back into the puree. Then what often happens? Time passes and baby is still on puree! Help! We panic because we know it shouldn’t be. We need to move on but we feel stuck paralysed by our own fear. What do we do?
I’ll look at why we need to move on past the puree and then solutions.
Babies are usually ready for lumpier food at around 6 – 7 months of age.
We need to move baby onto lumpy food from purees for several reasons
- Speech development – Baby needs to learn to move food from the front of the mouth and swallow. To do this he/she uses the tongue. The tongue and movement of it are integral to speech. Playing mouth games can help, such as blowing raspberries and sticking your tongue out at each other.
- Fine motor skills – Finger foods, which are lumpier foods (baby led weaning), promote these skills. Essential for a future that involves computers and mobile phones. Just imagine those keyboard and texting skills!
- By using Baby Led Weaning, a feeding technique (described at babyledweaning.com by Jill Rapley, a British Health visitor, like me!) we reduce the risk of choking as the baby is in control. Many babies need to feel that control and baby led weaning offers just that. If the baby feels they have control, they will usually eat more and allow you to feed them. A real win-win. http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/kids-cooking/bye-bye-baby-food/ You can read more on my blog at https://nurtureparenting.com.au/baby-led-weaning-a-solution-to-pesky-purees
As long as you steam veggies till they are the softness of banana or avocado to start with, you should have no problems. It is important to avoid some foods, as a baby under one year, will choke on these, such as: frankfurters, nuts and raisins, hard sticks of raw carrot, unpeeled whole grapes and bread that is doughy. The bread can be stored in their little cheeks and becomes like playdough/clay and it forms a round ball and they attempt to swallow it … disaster! So don’t give bread till they are proficient at chewing and swallowing.
So why do some babies do the choking sound and what does it mean?
Some babies have a sensitive gag reflex. Most will lose the sensitivity by 9 months. But it is a normal reflex. It's there for a good reason!
Maybe they were premature or have a history of reflux or maybe there is no cause … it just is. You’ll know if it isn’t a proper ‘choke’ as it looks very different i.e. they aren’t going red and blue! They look to us for a response. We need to smile and look unconcerned. Our reaction matters a lot to a baby. Are we relaxed, or are we stressed and uptight and rushing to pull the food out of the mouth? Try sitting on your hands and counting to ten whilst smiling. Very important.
Have a look at these posts it describes it so well http://community.babycentre.co.uk and look under lumpy food and gagging.
If your baby is feeding themselves the lumpy stuff they are much less likely to choke on it. Trust your baby. Babies know how a lot of stuff works, almost innately.
If the sensitive gag thing has become an issue for you and baby then just go back to the puree stage. Give food the texture of custard for about a week. Introduce very soft finger foods such as banana and avocado and let baby decide to pick them up off the high chair tray. Even if only a small amount of finger food goes in their mouth then that is a win. Relax. You’re on your way.
Week two, you can start to upgrade to less pureed food. Some tiny lumps allowed and so on till you’re on fully lumpy food by at 10 - 12 months. Remember that foods like minced meat are not the most successful lumpy food as each mouthful feels like hard pellets. It can be better to cook a stew/braise of meat and blend that. Meat usually needs blending till 10-12 months. Or you can give it as finger foods in rissoles, meatballs or homemade chicken strips.
See Annabel Karmel’s website for some really easy and groovy homemade recipeshttp://www.annabelkarmel.com or for those of you in OZ like me go to http://www.annabelkarmel.com.au
She has lots of great recipes that are free. My favourite one is for 6 - 9 month old babies and has chicken, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, onion, and garlic and chicken stock. Even the fussiest of babies love this recipe and I have tried it on many, believe me! It has never failed me. Yummo.
Those of you out there, that know me, will know how much I love Annabel’s recipes. I’ve been using her books as teaching aids for the past 14 years. I should have had shares – I’d have been rich by now!
Watch your baby eat. It’s really important to sit with them.Babies need company. Turn the TV off and have an interaction with your baby, eat your own meal with them. They are learning the process of eating and communication. Babies are like sponges. They absorb what they’re seeing and hearing and copy. TV distracts (both of you) and reduces the amount a baby/child eats. As do mobile phones and computers. Put all distractions away for mealtimes. Mobile phone on silent. We are all guilty of these things – me included!
At 6 months old they should have good head control. Put them in a high chair or a Bumbo (http://www.bumbo.com.au) - a bit unsteady if used without the tray attached. Always watch them in the Bumbo or high chair. I like the security of a high chair with the baby secured in with straps. I love the tray that is attached, fantastic for putting the finger foods on.
Babies have to make a mess to move on in stages. If you’re a clean freak then you just have to put on your smiley face and pretend to yourself that it’s OK. Food has to be explored and played with before it gets put in the mouth. Undress your baby down to nappy and singlet until that stage is over. Use newspaper or a splash mat/shower curtain under the high chair. It’ll save your floor and patience! Remember it is not forever.
Right, now you’re ready… It's bibs and splash mats at five paces!