Introducing Food Textures to Your Little One
The journey from only milk to solid foods and especially, family foods is an important milestone and exciting time for parents and their little munchkins. You get to experiment and, in the process, learn so much more about your little one.
Most parents tread the popularly chosen route of starting solid foods for their little ones with purees of different kinds. And infants usually take to purees easily as they are smooth like milk and do not require too much munching and manipulation, unlike textured foods which are new territory for the little one. So, the real problem arises when you try to give them more textured solid foods like dal or soft-boiled veggies or idlis and they refuse to even try it, leaving them (and you) stuck with purees for way too long.
It is absolutely possible to avoid this situation and get your infant to try different foods and enjoy textured food. You just need to know how and when to introduce different textures and tastes.
Why introduce textures to your little ones?
Feeding your little one’s breastmilk exclusively for the first 4-6 months is the healthiest for his/her health and development; he/ she gets the benefits of breastmilk and their digestive and immune systems have the necessary time to mature. After 6 months, it is necessary to introduce solid foods to him/ her to ensure that they get balanced nutrients and that they grow up strong and healthy.
Introducing and switching to solid foods at the right time is crucial as it determines their perception and relationship with food, as well as, their eating habits during their formative years and beyond!
Another undeniable reason to introduce food textures at the right time: It is connected to speech development in the child! Yes. Your little munchkin learns to munch, bite, chew and manipulate food his/ her mouth while consuming lumpy, chunky textured foods. These acts of chewing, munching, biting and manipulating their food aids in stronger jaw muscle development for infants and this, in turn, helps in their speech development.
Some tips and tricks on introducing food textures
1. Your little munchkins keep giving little signals that they are ready for new textures, tastes and foods. Keep looking for those signals and accordingly, introduce textures. For instance, they may topple their favourite bowl of apple puree or turn their head away from their favourite food.
2. Start with smooth, runny and healthy purees that you make using a blender. Gradually move to thicker purees mashed up with a spoon or fork and transition to lumpier purees. Then, introduce mashed foods, finger foods and finally family food.
3. Every child is unique, and it is common for different babies to take different time spans to transition to newer textures and foods, which is not related to their biological age. So, do not lose heart easily or try to force new foods and textures or compare your baby with others.
4. Experiment with new foods and textures when your child is hungry but not ravenous. And most importantly, allow your little munchkin to learn to eat by experimentation. That is, let them pick up food, smell it, feel it, and eat it themselves, even if it involves playing with the food, spilling it, spitting out, smearing food all over their face, hair and bodies. This is how they will develop a positive relationship with food and learn to try new foods.
At Mimmo, we offer a range of scrumptious and healthy veggie pastas and finger foods, crafted with love, to help busy parents introduce food textures to their little ones with ease.