Not all children have difficulty transitioning from a stage-2 thick puree to a stage-3 lumpy puree. If they did, the baby food companies might go out of business! But I frequently see families for feeding evaluations because their child is having a lot of trouble transitioning to textured foods. Some of these children demonstrate sensory aversions or oral-motor delays, but many are not really displaying either. How can we help our kids with this sometimes troublesome transition?
A Little More Time: Every child is different and reaches their developmental milestones at slightly different times. Some children may have no problem with lumpy textures the first time they are offered, while others may react strongly to the change. My first suggestion for families experiencing difficulty with this transition is to wait a few days to a week and try it again. If the difficulty persists, then you can move on to some of the following ideas to help your little one adjust.
1. Hard Munchables: Offer hard, stick-shaped foods like carrot or celery sticks. Encourage your child to dip the sticks in their pureed food and to play with the texture in their mouth. When the stick is placed in the side of the mouth, it encourages the tongue to move to both sides, a skill necessary for chewing. The hard munchable is NOT intended to be eaten. It is purely for exploration of a new shape and texture in the mouth.
2. Small, soft cubes: Ripe banana or well cooked carrot works very well for this stage. Think of it as offering the “lumps” from the stage-3, but without the surrounding puree. The pieces should be small, but still able to be picked up with the fingers. Offering small, soft cubes on their own can help a child learn to manage the one texture before mixing it with others.
3. Lumpy puree or mashed table food: At this point, parents have the option of trying the stage-3 jars again, or moving to mashed table foods. Both are a lumpy texture, but the mashed table foods tend to be thicker. If your child has tolerated the hard munchables and soft cubes well, the transition to lumpy purees should be much easier.
If your child still demonstrates difficulty transitioning to lumpy textures or does not tolerate the hard munchables or soft cubes, seek the advice and guidance of a feeding team evaluation. Ask your pediatrician for a referral and see our guide on what to look for in a feeding team.