Weaning Your Baby: When to Introduce Lumps

Lots of parents - and babies! - find this the trickiest part of weaning. Luckily, our experienced nutritionist and health visitor have answers to all your most pressing questions about moving on to lumpy foods.

Weaning is an exciting time, but it can produce lots of questions – especially when it's time to move on from purees to “proper” family foods! It’s a big step, and there can definitely be challenges along the way.

Luckily, with more than 50 years of weaning experience under our belts, we've got access to all the best information to help you out. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked by parents keen to introduce their little ones to the wonderful world of food.

How will my baby ever chew lumps? He doesn’t even have teeth!

Many mums worry about this, but babies have quite hard gums which they’ll use to happily chomp away. They can manage soft lumps without too much trouble at all.

My baby won’t accept any lumps at all. He/she gags when the texture is even slightly different.

In order to successfully chew food, babies need to learn how to control their mouth muscles. Handily enough, they’re born with a ‘gag’ reflex to help keep bits of food from being swallowed whole while they're still learning. It's not the same as choking or vomiting - essentially, this reflex brings the food back up into the mouth for more chewing. It can be unsettling when this happens, but it's not dangerous. Your baby may look to you for support, so try to stay calm and be full of praise and encouragement.

I'm really worried that my baby will choke on lumps.

Of course, it's important to pay attention whenever your baby is eating, just in case he or she should choke – but it's also important to remember that choking is quite unlikely, and it's very important for your baby to learn to deal with lumpy foods. Learning to use the muscles of the mouth and tongue to chew is an essential first step in learning to talk, so it's well worth encouraging!

To be on the safe side and help you feel confident, make sure your little one sits upright when eating (a secure seat in a high chair will help keep him or her from slipping down). Sit with your baby and offer encouragement (and supervision). And remember, a bit of gagging when your baby first tackles lumps is quite normal – and it's not the same thing as choking.

If you do think your baby is choking, however, then it's important to act quickly. There's excellent advice and a very good video on what to do if your baby is choking at the following link: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/helping-choking-baby.aspx

When can I start offering finger foods, and what should I give?

Offering finger foods is a great way to help your baby work on hand to eye co-ordination and finger movements, and you can start offering soft finger foods (such as banana, toast soldiers or soft-cooked pieces of veg) as soon as your baby’s able to eat mashed textures. This bit of extra independence can also be brilliantly useful if your baby’s a bit fussy - some babies who won't touch lumpy or mashed foods from a spoon just love to gnaw on a bit of steamed carrot!