New eaters should remain on single ingredient foods for at least 3-5 days. After your baby has a small variety of single ingredient foods that they enjoy, begin to vary their diet. Be sure to change only one element of the food at a time.
Changeable Food Elements:
- Shape and size
Remember to make changes gradually. Even if your child dislikes it at first, offer it again without forcing or pressuring. Listen to what your child is saying, but don’t give up on this food. Offer it again in a different context,
proportion, temperature or color.
- Strained: food that has been cooked very well, pureed with a blender or food processor, mixed with liquid to a smooth consistency and all textured bits have been removed by passing it through a strainer or cloth (Stage 1)
- Blended: food that is pureed as above but the textured pieced have not been removed (Stage 2)
- Lumpy: similar to blended but it has been processed less, has larger lumps or pieces of food, and the textured food pieces are generally bigger with various irregular shapes. (Stage 3)
- Smashed: table foods that are well cooked that flatten or disintegrate into almost blended food when pressed with a fork or spoon against a plate.
- Ground: food passed through a food mill without adding water. Pieces are small and shaped the same size, tends to be dry.
- Cubed: foods cut or chopped into small squares about ¼”.
If your child gags on all but the smoothest purees, you can choose one of the two options:
- Add a small amount of a higher texture food to the smoother texture. Mix well.
- Gradually increase the amount of texture to the puree. Either add
- The same food that has been less pureed and is more chunky, For instance, if you are pureeing carrots, take some carrot out of the mix before it is all blended up. Fork smash this small bit of carrot, and mix it into the blended carrot. Gradually increase the amount of smashed food to the amount of pureed food until most of the food is smashed and not pureed.
- Add a small amount of a dissolvable carbohydrate such as a crushed cheerio or small amount of crumbled cracker or cookie to the puree.
- Puree the food less, thereby increasing the thickness/density of the food from thinner to thicker.
When your child is eating smashed foods such as vegetables or fruits well, begin offering the same foods in small chunks with the following SIZE and SHAPE Progression:
- Sticks: food cut into long thin pieces: ex. vege sticks, pretzles
- Cubed: foods that are cut into small square pieces: cooked carrots, cheeses, soft turkey
- Fatter and rounder: cheetos, mini teddy grahams
- Biting taking small pieces from the whole: crackers, biscuits, cookies, pita crisps, bagel chips, Tortillas, sandwiches, whole fruit, etc.
Serving size should be proportionate to age:
Approximately 1 tablespoon per year of age but varies meal to meal, day to day, week
to week. Let the child choose how much to eat.
Single ingredient strained foods for beginning eaters
- Mashed whipped ripe banana
- Plain whole milk yogurt (my favorite for babies is Brown Cow with cream top)
- Mashed avocado
- Baked sweet potatoes, pureed
- Unsweetened apple sauce
- Cream of wheat
- Hard boiled egg yolk, finely mashed and mixed with water, milk, cereal or butter
Foods of pureed consistency that have more than one ingredient
- Flavored yogurt
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
- Broth from soup- creamed or clear
- Vegetable soufflé- use only on children cleared for egg consumption
- Quiche: has both eggs and dairy
Strained and smooth foods for older eaters
- Unsweetened applesauce: comes in different colors and flavors
- Pudding: try serving it warm, cooked in a pot the old fashioned way
- Ice cream
- Soup: clear broths, or creamy chowders like potato
- Cream cheese
- Instant mashed potatoes from flakes or powder: mix with milk or broth
- Gelatin deserts
Blended foods with small lumps or texture:
- Mashed potatoes (add butter/milk/broth/salt to taste)
- Yogurt with fruit
- Yogurt with sprinkles
- Creamed spinach
- Tapioca pudding
- Rice pudding
- Canned creamed corn
- Instant oatmeal: try different flavors
- Egg salad: mashed hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise
Foods which are good to smash:
- Over cooked pasta or rice: add lots of extra water to the pot and 3-5 minutes to the cooking time. Start with smaller pasta such as stars or orzo; avoid whole wheat pasta for beginners, it takes longer to cook and has a stronger taste.
- Prepared canned pasta (Spaghetti Oh’s)
- Carrots, potatoes, squash, peas or other frozen or fresh vegetables, cooked well with extra water in the microwave or on the stove in a pot.
- Any well cooked soft beans- red, black, white or baked in sauce, with their broth
Soft finger foods for beginning eaters:
- Cream cheese with flavors and additions such as fruit or herbs
- Warmed tortillas
- Matzo balls
- Scrambled eggs
- Graham crackers
Foods that dissolve in saliva:
- Carbohydrates which are well cooked or highly processed. Present them in small chunks to finger feed or offer them as foods to hold in hand.
- Includes most crackers or carbohydrates such as saltines, graham crackers, cheerios, and cookies. Test them by putting a piece in your cheek without chewing, to see how long it takes to dissolve.
- Cheerios: plain, not flavored (the flavoring adds a crunchy crust that is hard to dissolve).
- Pirates booty
- Wafer cones for ice cream
- Boiled potatoes
Foods to facilitate stronger chewing:
Continue to use grain-based carbohydrate foods that dissolve in saliva. Remember to place a piece on the side of the mouth at the molars, or tuck it into the cheek pocket
- Graham crackers
- Gold fish crackers
- Saltines or circle crackers
- Pizza crust
- Pita bread
- Large pretzels
- Toast, with something on it, cut into sticks
- Garbanzo beans
- Grapes cut into quarters
- Raw bell pepper strips
- Green beans
- Zucchini strips
- French fries
- Also try chewing on licorice or a teriyaki beef stick
Foods for beginning eaters generally liked by older children and adults:
- Pancakes and waffles
- Tuna fish or shredded chicken mixed with mayonnaise
- Deli sliced lunch meats or sliced roasted turkey
- Canned or homemade soups with rice, pasta or potatoes
- Pasta salads
- Mac and cheese
- Salisbury steak
- Soft fruit- mango, papaya, melon, peaches, nectarines, strawberries
- Fresh fish- don’t forget to remove the bones
- Fish sticks for beginning eater-look for those that are more processed.
- Chicken nuggets: processed for beginners, white meat strips for advanced.
Foods to stimulate tongue protrusion
- Lollypops and suckers on a stick
- Frozen yogurt or ice cream on a stick
- Hold the iced treat perpendicular to the baby’s mouth so that he has to stick out his tongue to lick it.
Foods that should never be given to young children under the age of 3 years old:
- Raw carrots
- Whole nuts
- Whole hot dogs
- Hard candies
To add flavor and fat calories to a meal:
- Add a tablespoon of butter, oil or margarine to cooked vegetables, rice, pasta, potatoes
- Cream cheese
- Cooked egg yolks
- Whipped cream
- Full fat vanilla ice cream
- Melted cheese
- Alfredo sauce
Foods that add or intensify taste:
- Lemon– add a fresh slice or drop of juice to water
- Soy sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Spaghetti sauce
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Dill pickles
- A touch of seasoning salt
- Olives or other pickled vegetables
A few words about flavor
- Taste the food you feed your baby. If it doesn’t taste good to you, it probably won’t taste good to him.
- Fruit is seasonal and is sometimes highly variable in taste and ripeness.
- Vegetables need to be tasted to account for appropriate cooking
- A little salt and butter will improve the flavor of most vegetables.
- Don’t be afraid of experimenting with ethnic foods. Children are exposed before they are born and while breast feeding to the flavors their mother’s eat, and they will eat the foods they see their families eat.
- Expose him to other food from other ethnicities besides your own.
Changing the temperature of a food will change its texture and its taste. For example, gelatin deserts will become crunchy when frozen and slushy when at room temperature.
Many foods that are good warm are not cold, such as soup or melted cheese. Try changing the temperature of a food and see how it changes.
Use color to stimulate the mind. We eat with our eyes first, then with our noses and our taste buds. A more colorful plate will be more exciting to eat.