I put up a poll recently to ask mothers if their little ones were stuck on purees and a whopping 56% of almost 50 respondents voted STUCK! 

I went further and asked for the age groups of the children from their parents and 60% of the children STUCK were above 12 months, mostly 2 year old toddlers and I was surprised.

Babies ought to transition from smooth meals to other textures from 7/8 months and not when they are toddlers. Toddlers can be very willful and so it will require patience and hard work to help them move from purees to regular family foods.

I can really feel the pain of the parents, I am a parent of a toddler who though with a healthy appetite is still a handful. I also know adulting is a lot of work – with 99 problems and all (insert eye roll); baby food and weaning should not be a problem for you. Realistically speaking however, baby food is a big deal for most of us. The fact that we are having more ready to eat baby foods on the store shelves of supermarkets aisles is not also helping matters. These foods (on the store shelves)are nutritious; don’t get me wrong but they do very little to support our babies’ needs to develop good eating and motor skills.

Dear Parents, you still need to put in the work and effort required to raise a well balanced child by offering varieties of well balanced foods and not just convenient meals all the time. This also includes breast feeding and or formula which are very important for nourishing little ones even alongside complementary meals. There is more to food than cereals and purees and this is what we preach at Baby Grubz and we provide support in form of wholesome recipes and videos to parents to help teach feeding and eating skills to their children.

Research shows and supports that exposing babies to textures and learning self-feeding skills from early on is extremely important for future eating habits and may also help reduce picky eating.

Lundy et al. (1998) compared the willingness of infants at the weaning and post-weaning stage (4–12 months) and infants in their second year (13–22 months) to accept foods of different textures. The older infants more readily accepted textured foods than younger infants, attributed to their greater experience with textured foods. Similarly, Blossfeld et al. (2007b) reported that 12-month-old infants with prior experience of carrots in a variety of forms (tastes and textures) consumed more chopped carrots than infants who had not experienced such variety. These studies suggest that acceptance of textured foods may be supported by exposure to foods prepared to have different textures.”

There are 4 methods of transitioning from purees to regular meals that I will share with you today:

Baby Steps method – Under 12 months

This method is the easiest and simplest to implement and is mostly suitable for babies under 12 months but may be attempted for older kids still stuck on purees.

  1. Step one – Increase thickness of smooth purees
    It is important not to change texture from silky smooth if that is it what your child is used to; we want to move from known to unknown in the most delicate approach.
    This method involves slightly thickening the consistency of your child’s food ever so lightly that your child will not notice and then plan to
    increase the consistency week on week – first so that you can measure progress and also that your child is slowly eased into the new texture – you can do this by adding extra tablespoon weekly of protein serving (for example)to your usual puree blend.
  2. Step two – Changing texture
    After 4/6 weeks of Step one; you should attempt transitioning to 90% smooth blend. Your child’s response will help you learn if the child is ready to move forward. If you get the green light, aim for 80% smoothness following week


Baby Led Method – Over 12 months

This method gives control to your child and works best in children above 12 months and in toddlers.

  1. Step one – Two spoons method

This method is an invitation to your child to begin to explore feeding on their own. This should be done ideally once a day around when your child is hungriest. Dip a spoon into your child’s puree and place it in your child’s hands to encourage self feeding while you hold another spoon to show your baby how to do it –pausing in between to allow for trial or even alternate feeds between your and your baby.

2. Step two – Small Chops method (a.ka Finger Foods)

This should remind you of a typical Nigerian party canapés. This means you need to throw a tiny platter – not in the regular party style but a kid friendly one.
Your child’s small chop platter should feature foods that are
soft and easily mashed by their gums. This is not to force your child to eat but to help your child interact with food through play as well as for sensory processing – Sight – colours, Smell – flavours, feel and taste – textures

Finger foods should be taken from the different foods groups such as:

  • Very soft cooked vegetables: Steamed carrots, peas, corn, sweet potato
  • Ripe fruits (Removed seeds and cut to safe shapes to avoid choking: Pieces of banana, avocado or pear
  • Soft proteins:  Boiled beans or eggs, soft meats or fish, cooked Chicken, soft cheese
  • Cooked pasta  and cereal


Other helpful suggestions:

1. Do not rely only on foods that are available instantly such as breast milk and cereals, explore other forms of meals such as swallows, smoothies, scrambles, muffins, pottages etc. One jar of Baby Grubz meal can be prepared into all of these meals!

2. Feed your baby variety from all the foods groups – intentionally try out new foods every week. All Baby Grubz meals are from different food groups with each having it’s own unique tastes, flavors and can be combined with so many ingredient to achieve varying consistencies.

3. Always supervise your children and offer foods in portions that will not make your child choke on their foods while eating.

4. Nutrient density is the goal – please ensure that every spoonful your child consumes is loaded with nutrients.

Do you still need further help?

You can request a consultation by filling in the form below.

References:
Lundy B., Field T., Carraway K., Hart S., Malphurs J., Rosenstein M., et al. (1998). Food texture preferences in infants versus toddlers. Early Child Dev. Care 146, 69–85. 10.1080/0300443981460107

Blossfeld I., Collins A., Kiely M., Delahunty C. (2007b). blossand the role of early experiences. Food Qual. Prefer. 18, 396–404. 10.1016/j.foodqual.2006.03.022

Have you heard the myth that babies’ tastes buds aren’t fully developed at 6 months before? I certainly have but it is not totally true. Children can taste even in the belly!


“Limited but consistent evidence indicates that flavors (alcohol, anise, carrot, garlic) originating from the maternal diet during pregnancy can transfer to and flavor amniotic fluid, and fetal flavor exposure increases acceptance of similarly flavored foods when re-exposed during infancy and potentially childhood.” 1

If you find it hard sometimes to feed your little one and you have tagged your child to be picky or fussy, you might be wrong. Around 6 or 7 months old is when your little one can taste salt (no salt should be given to babies under 12 months) but they can tell which tastes are sweet and sour earlier as early as 4-5 months. Please note that we encourage that you begin complementary feeding at 6 months and not earlier with exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months and continued breastfeeding up until 2 years as recommended by WHO.

You can begin taste training from when you are pregnant!

“Many flavors that the mother either ingests or inhales are transmitted to her milk and/or amniotic fluid. Mothers can help the transition from a diet exclusively of milk or formula to a mixed diet by providing the infant familiar flavors in both milk or formula and solid foods. Exposure to a variety of flavors during and between meals appears to facilitate acceptance of novel foods. Providing novelty in the context of a familiar food might prove to be an optimal combination to progressively accustom infants to a diversity of novel foods. When repeatedly exposing infants to flavors of some vegetables that have bitter tastes, mothers should focus not on infants’ facial expressions but on their willingness to eat the food and should continue to provide repeated opportunities to taste the food. Introducing children repeatedly to individual as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables, both within and between meals, might help them be more accepting of fruits and vegetables, which is difficult to enhance beyond toddlerhood.” 2


Taste training has a myriad of benefits:

  1. It helps you to discover which tastes your child find the most appealing. Some children prefer certain tasting foods over others and this can be traced to the meals the mother enjoyed the most during pregnancy.
  2. Secondly, exposing kids to a wide range of flavors also helps in the first 1000 days really helps children to appreciate a wide variety of foods. From Cinnamony tastes to fishy flavors; we at Baby Grubz, we boast of a wide range of Authentic African tasting meals and cereals that are safely and hygienically produced for babies. Exploring different tastes might be the secret to unlocking your child’s love for food. I have to say here that naturally (and obviously) we all love sweet tastes and dislike bitter tasting foods however , there are so many other tastes like that you need to know and intentionally explore. I would advice that you approach weaning with the aim to deliberately help your little one taste as many distinct foods as much as possible and not to clear their plates. Our role as parents is to expose them to these flavors but the children decide how much of it they eat. As your little one grows older, you should also introduce variety of food textures, mashy, chunky, sticky etc.
  3. Third reason why I love taste training is the freedom to choose from endless food options to offer your little humans. It becomes easier to travel with your little ones and they get to experience travel with you through food.

There are five basic tastes:

  1. Sour
  2. Sweet
  3. Bitter
  4. Salty
  5. Umami.

The trick is to target the different taste receptors on their taste buds.

Babies are born with

 

1. Sour – Tamarind, Lemon

Tamarind, lemon and coconut chicken - Recipes - Eat Well (formerly Bite)

While citric acid may be too harsh for your little ones stomach, a little bit of lemon can help increase absorption of iron in their meals. See a recipe below of how to safely introduce some mild tart taste to your baby.

1.1 Lemon Fish and Vegetable Recipe

This is suitable from 7-8 months upwards and can be stored frozen for up to 3 months.

Ingredient:
1 medium fish cut (fillet or deboned)
2-3 Ugwu (Nigerian pumpkin) leaves
1 teaspoon lemon juice or tamarind juice
2 tablespoons GRUBZ Sweet Rice

Method:
Steam Fish and Ugwu till cooked
Dissolve Grubz Sweet Rice with hot water
Pour into a food processor with steamed fish and ugwu leaves
Cool and serve warm
You can freeze for later consumption

2. Salty – Shrimps, Eggs, Milk

Premium Photo | Steam egg and milk with shrimp

Salt is definitely bad for your little one.

You should avoid putting salt in your little one’s meals until after their first birthday. Salt is bad in baby food because your little one’s kidneys have not fully developed to
However, sodium occurs naturally in some foods such as seafood, eggs, meat, celery etc
See two recipes below that show you how to safely introduce some mild natural salty taste to your baby.

Banana Egg yolk Baby Puree

Adventures in Baby Food: Egg Yolk Mashed with Bananas

This is suitable from 6-7 months upwards and may also be added to Grubz Sweet Potatoes with Basil Meal

Ingredient:
1 banana fingers
1 hard boiled egg yolk
Milk to the desired consistency (you can use expressed breast milk)

Method:
Add all ingredients into the food processor
Blend into a smooth paste
Serve with a spoon to your little one

Seafood (shrimp & Fish) Okra soup for babies

Besides the taste, there is something that attracts babies to ooey gooey taste and texture of Okra soup.

Ingredients:
10 Okra fingers
1 medium sweet green bell pepper
3 tablespoons Palm oil
1 teaspooon Grubz Shrimp Powder
1 teaspoon Grubz Fish Powder

Method:
Chop Okra into smaller chunks
Bring to boil, add palm oil
Next add Grubz Fish and Shrimp powder
Stir altogether, allow to cool and then blend into a smooth paste
Serve warm with Grubz Swallow

3. Sweet – Nuts, sweet potatoes, Bananas, Cinnamon, dates

Don’t we all just love sweet tastes! I always appeal to mothers not to introduce sweet tasting fruits and vegetables as first foods to their little ones; just so that we can avoid constant craving or penchant for sweet tasting foods only.

Baby Grubz Meals
Baby Grubz has several sweet tasting meals which includes:
Grubz Banana and dates cereal
Grubz Grains and Nuts cereal
Sweet Rice Instant cereal.

For homemade options, below are some decadent but healthy meal options that you can try.

Pureed Pear and Dates
I love this combination as it is suitable for 2 things:
A. As a sweetener for other meals
b. It also helps to prevent constipation in little ones

Ingredients:
1 peckham pear
5-8 pitted dates

Method:
Wash pears in salty water and then rinse under running water
Soak for a few hours or overnight in warm water in a covered bowl
Next, steam pears and pour into a food processor
Add dates and the water used to soak the dates
Blend all into a smooth consistency and freeze for subsequent use

 

4. Bitter – Dark chocolate, bitter leaf

I can already tell that some parents will cringe at this one but not to worry, we can still make it yummy without being overly bitter. However, this meals are recommended for kids above 12 months

Chocolatey Rice
This is a very simple dish. You only need Grubz Sweet rice cereal and dark chocolate.

Ingredients:
Grubz Sweet Rice
Dark chocolate shavings

Method:
Grubz Sweet Rice needs just hot water or hot milk to be ready
Add chocolate shavings according to your desire
Stir into the sweet rice cereal to blend well
Serve warm

5. Umami – Tomatoes, Soybeans, Fish, Mushroom, Sweet Potatoes

Umami or savory taste is very much loved taste in Nigerian meals. Umami always elevates the flavor of meals.

Grubz Sweet Potatoes with Basil and Fish bites

Ingredients:
1 Egg, small

1/4 cup smoked fish, flaked

1 tsp onion, grated

1 tsp Grubz shrimp powder

1 tsp Grubz fish powder

2/3 cup Grubz sweet potatoes

Method:
Wash your hands and utensils

Combine all ingredients & mix

Mould into preferred shapes

Bake for 10 minutes or fry

Serve as finger food

Grubz Sweet Beans & Plantain pottage

Ingredients:
¼ of a medium sized plantain
1 small tomato
2 tablespoons of palm oil
2 tablespoons Grubz Sweet Beans Powder
1 tablespoon Grubz Fish powder
Water to dissolve

Method:
Dice plantains and tomatoes into cubes and boil for 10 minutes
Dissolve Grubz sweet beans powder with water and stir into boiling plantains
Add palm oil and Grubz fish powder, cook for 5 minutes
Thin out pottage if too thick or to desired consistency
Mash or puree (depending on child’s age)
Serve warm

References

  1. Influence of maternal diet on flavor transfer to amniotic fluid and breast milk and children’s responses: a systematic review.
    Spahn JM, Callahan EH, Spill MK, Wong YP, Benjamin-Neelon SE, Birch L, Black MM, Cook JT, Faith MS, Mennella JA, Casavale KO.
    Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Mar 1;109(Suppl_7):1003S-1026S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy240. PMID: 30982867.
  2. Complementary foods and flavor experiences: setting the foundation.
    Mennella JA, Trabulsi JC.
    Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):40-50. doi: 10.1159/000335337. Epub 2012 Apr 27. PMID: 22555188; PMCID: PMC3363345.