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How to Prepare Food for Your Baby: From Purees to Finger Foods
Read time: 5 minutes
What to know about making food for your baby
Advancing from purees to soft solids is important for baby’s development and healthy eating habits
Babies don’t need teeth to eat soft solid foods
Learn how to make sweet potatoes, chicken, carrots, bananas, avocados, and eggs for your baby in purees, lumpy mashes, and finger foods.
So, you’re ready to start feeding solids to your baby, but where do you begin? How do you choose which food to start with, and how do you prepare them?
We’ve rounded up some of the most searched-for foods when it comes to starting solids and took the guesswork out of preparing them. You’ll learn not only how to prepare them in puree form, but also how to adjust them as your baby transitions to lumpier and firmer textures.
And, once you get the hang of preparing these foods, you can apply the same knowledge and preparation to many other foods.
How do I transition my baby from purees to soft solids?
While every baby progresses with solids differently, we’ve broken down the recommendations into three steps following the traditional method of starting with purees.1
Babies starting solids around 6 months can begin with a smooth puree.
Once they’ve mastered that, progress to a more lumpy and mashed texture.
Next, your baby will progress to soft chunks, where they’re able to self-feed small pea-sized pieces of texture-appropriate food.2
Progressing through the stages happens between 6-12 months of age, depending on your baby’s developmental readiness.
While it can feel scary to move beyond smooth purees, research shows that waiting beyond nine or ten months to progress to lumpier foods may lead to selective or picky eating and even rejection of food consistencies other than purees.34
Favorite first foods to feed baby and how to make them
A fan favorite among babies due to its naturally sweet flavor, sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and provide your little one with vitamins A, C, potassium, and fiber.5
Puree: Simply cook your peeled sweet potato (roast, boil, or steam) and place cooled sweet potato in a blender or fork mash until smooth. You can blend with water, prepared formula, or breastmilk for a thinner consistency if needed.
Lumpy: When your baby is ready to advance texture, slightly fork mash the cooked sweet potato so it is a more lumpy and chunky texture.
Soft chunks: Once baby is ready to self-feed, provide pea-sized pieces of soft, cooked and peeled sweet potato.
Tasty twist: Add a dash of cinnamon to enhance the flavor.
Pro Tip: How to advance this sweet potato recipe through texture stages
Start with the puree. When baby is ready to advance to a lumpy texture, cook these foods then mash them together rather than blending. For soft solids, offer these cooked foods to your baby not mashed together, but rather cut into pea-sized pieces alongside each other.
A great source of protein, iron, and zinc that you can prepare in a variety of ways due to its mild flavor.6
Puree: Cooked, chopped chicken can be added to a blender with liquid such as water, breastmilk, or prepared formula and pureed until smooth.
Lumpy: Cooked ground chicken is a great option at this stage, and can be served mixed with a soft, cooked vegetable for a smoother texture. Try combining cooked ground chicken with lumpy, mashed sweet potato for a flavorful blend.
Soft chunks: Try cooking chicken in a slow cooker with a liquid such as salt-free broth, then fork-shred it for a soft, graspable texture.
Tasty twist: Cook chicken with fresh or dried herbs for additional flavor, such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
Recipe: Avocado and Chopped Chicken
Pro Tip: How to advance this chicken recipe through texture stages
To make it into a puree, blend the ingredients together. Use the recipe as-is for a lumpy texture. For soft solids, offer to baby in soft pea-sized avocado pieces alongside cooked shredded chicken.
Like sweet potatoes, cooked carrots have a natural sweetness that appeals to babies and are a great source of vitamin A.7
Puree: Steam or boil peeled carrots and blend with water, breastmilk, or prepared formula until smooth.
Lumpy: Steamed carrots can be fork-mashed to obtain a lumpy texture.
Soft chunks: Steam or roast carrots and then cut into pea-sized pieces. You can also cut strips of soft, cooked carrots lengthwise, about the width of a pencil, and let baby hold to self-feed.
Tasty twist: Cook carrots with a drizzle of orange juice for a citrusy flavor and vitamin C.
Pro Tip: How to advance this carrot recipe through texture stages
This recipe works well as a puree. Advancing to a lumpy texture, simply mash these ingredients together rather than blending. For soft solids, omit the ground flaxseed and offer these ingredients (carrots cooked, peaches either over-ripe or steamed without the peel) in pea-sized pieces.
This fruit comes conveniently packaged in its own wrapper making it a great food for on the go and is soft enough to not require any fancy equipment to prepare.
Puree: All you need is a ripe banana and a fork to mash and whisk it into a smooth puree.
Lumpy: Fork mash a banana slightly to get a chunky texture.
Soft chunks: Cut banana into pea-sized pieces for baby to grasp and self-feed. Or cut banana into long, pencil-like strips for baby to grasp and eat.
Tasty twist: Roll slippery pieces of banana in ground flaxseed or dry baby cereal to make it easier for baby to grasp when self-feeding.
Recipe: Banana Pudding
Pro Tip: How to advance this banana recipe through texture stages
After baby has done well with this recipe as a puree, time to move into a lumpy mash. Mash the banana and avocado into the yogurt and add 1-2 Tbsp formula, breastmilk, or water to thin it out and allow the chia seeds to swell. Add chia seeds and allow the pudding to refrigerate for about an hour (or overnight). Feed to baby as a lumpy mash.
For a soft solid, either cut up the banana and avocado into pea-sized pieces for your baby to self-feed – or give them a spoon and let them practice self-feeding the lumpy mash on their own!
Like the banana, this fruit needs no equipment to prepare and comes in its own package. Its creamy texture and mild flavor make it an easy food to prepare for babies.
Puree: Use a fork or blender to puree until smooth.
Lumpy: Fork mash a ripe avocado to a lumpy texture.
Soft chunks: Dice avocado into pea-sized pieces for baby to pick up, or cut avocado into thin pencil-like strips that baby can hold in their palm.
Tasty twist: A squirt of lemon or lime juice will help preserve avocado once cut to prevent browning, and add a tart citrus burst for baby to enjoy.
Recipe: Avocado and Pea Puree
Pro Tip: How to advance this avocado recipe through texture stages
When baby is ready to advance from a puree, mash avocado and cooked peas for a lumpy texture. When baby is ready for a soft solid, cook the peas and gently pinch/squish them to break the skin. This will help baby chew and digest the peas better.
Puree: Hard boil a whole egg and mash the white and yolk with a fork or blender using breastmilk or prepared formula as necessary to get a smooth consistency.
Lumpy: Cook soft scrambled eggs and serve small pieces to your baby or mash a hard-boiled egg with breastmilk or prepared formula to make an egg-salad consistency.
Soft chunks: However you prepare eggs – omelets, scrambled eggs, or hard boiled – the soft texture is appropriate for little ones. Just be sure to offer eggs to your baby in pea-sized pieces to help avoid choking.
Tasty twist: Prepare scrambled eggs with soft, cooked veggie pieces that your baby has already explored.
Recipe: Fluffy Spinach Scrambled Eggs
Pro Tip: How to advance this egg recipe through texture stages
For a puree, blend this cooked recipe with a bit of whole milk yogurt, infant formula, or breastmilk into a smooth texture. For a lumpy mash, mash this cooked recipe with a fork, adding yogurt, formula, or breastmilk to help with consistency. When your baby is ready for soft solids, make this recipe and offer it in pea-sized pieces.
*If eggs are an allergy in your immediate family, work with your pediatrician on when and how to introduce them to your baby. Always check with baby’s pediatrician before introducing food allergens.
Need help with baby friendly meal ideas? Come chat with our team of registered dietitian nutritionists, fellow moms, and lactation specialists, available from Monday – Friday 8 am – 6 pm (ET) ). Chat now!
Extra tips for feeding solids foods to your baby
Can my baby eat solids without teeth?
Concerned your baby doesn’t have enough teeth to chew solids? Babies do not actually need teeth to enjoy foods beyond purees. In fact, the teeth we use to chew are the molars, and those teeth generally don’t come in until well after baby’s first birthday.10
Babies’ gums are incredibly strong – if your little one has ever gnawed on your finger when teething, you know! And as long as the foods you present to your baby are size and texture appropriate, they can chew perfectly well without a full mouth of teeth.11
Read about: Preventing Choking in Infants and Toddlers
Starting solids and food allergies
Consult with your baby’s doctor on the best ways to introduce those foods.1
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!
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