Hi everyone,

I've just had an email from a mum asking for some advice with helping her baby switch from smooth foods to lumps so I thought I'd share my advice with you all.

Learning to chew is an important stage in your baby's development and although it can take a while for your baby to control lumps in their mouth, it is important to persevere with lumpier foods at around 7 months. Learning to chew helps in the correct muscle development and use of the tongue needed for speech, and of course is also a vital step in them adapting to family-style meals. Sometimes if the lumps haven’t been chewed well enough your baby may cough up the lumps for more chewing and you may think your baby is choking, but this is quite normal. Of course, there is always the possibility of choking, however, so never leave your baby on their own whilst they are eating. If your baby does choke then calmly lift him and turn him upside down. Try to do it gently and without panicking so that you don't frighten your baby.

Try introducing soft lumps at first by mashing soft ripe fruit, cooked vegetables, pasta and cooked fish. You could try mixing a Stage 1 food with some Stage 2 food in the same bowl (choosing similar or complementary varieties), gradually increasing the amount of the lumpier food as your baby gets used to chewing. Alternatively, you could try mashing the Stage 2 food with a fork slightly before you feed it to your baby so that it has a mashed rather than lumpy consistency, and then gradually mash it less and less. Some babies can find lumpy foods in a bowl difficult but have no problems if finger foods are offered to them alongside a smoother meal in a bowl. Try introducing a selection of accompanying finger foods such as pieces of cooked meat (e.g. chicken or ham), grated cheese, cooked pasta shapes, pieces of hard-boiled egg or dried fruits, to encourage chewing.

If your baby still will not take to lumps, try leaving it for a few days and then try again. They will get there in the end!

Let us know about your experiences of introducing lumpy foods or if you’ve got any tips for other mums to try.

Bye for now,

Helen