Parents oftentimes come to me to help them decide which method to choose when introducing solid foods. Although I have found feeding success with both Baby Led Weaning (BLW) as well as traditional puree methods, I encourage you to consider a combination of both approaches. The reason I suggest a combo approach is that I have found that some of my strict BLW kiddos gag, vomit or choke early on and become fearful of eating solids (which means that they stay solely on the breast and miss critical feeding milestones). Some of my other clients stay on purees for too long and are fearful of eating solid foods because they, too, have missed important feeding milestones.
A combination of both methods, purees for the first few weeks of solid food introduction and then eating small soft foods, can be a joyful mealtime experience! The puree phase is important as it teaches baby how to swallow safely and helps with the transition of learning to self-feed. Here are a few tips on making purees tasty, safe and fun. Hooray for the puree phase!
Self Feeding: Feeding Specialist Melanie Potock, M.A, CCC-SLP, calls this developmental blend of both approaches Baby Self Feeding, which is also the title of her most recent book. She has also seen babies struggle with gagging and choking when introducing pieces of food as their first bites of solids. She states in her book, “If a child gags excessively and struggles with her first foods, she may vomit and can develop a negative association with eating, which can have a lasting impact on the way she interacts with food. Gagging can also exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux, where stomach contents rise up into the baby’s throat. It makes sense to help your baby become comfortable with the basics of swallowing by introducing purees before she tackles chunks of food held in her fists.” To read more about the benefits of purees and the baby self feeding method check out her book here.
Sugar: All fruits make amazing purees or help veggie purees become a bit sweeter and more palatable for kids. One of my favorite fruits to mash into a puree is banana. This fruit packs a lot of bang for it’s buck since it has a slow-release sugar. This means that the natural sugar provides sustained energy for toddlers (score!). Bananas also are a perfect on-the-go fruit (they are compact and come in their own biodegradable packaging) AND they mash easily for a quick puree. Apple, avocado and pear are also excellent fruit choices for the puree phase.
Sweet Potato: Another favorite puree I like to introduce to my clients are yummy variations of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes store well and are available most of the year, so it’s a great base to introduce other tastes. It also maintains its orange color when blended with most other fruits and veggies, allowing a bright color to remain in your toddler’s food. Here is a picture of an apple, carrot and sweet potato puree we love!
Storage & Serving: I personally hate seeing pictures of healthy homemade puree foods stored in plastic. We know this is not a healthy choice for our little ones, but time and time again pictures of purees for our babies are showcased in plastic - even by well meaning experts! Please store your purees in glass or food safe silicone products like our Happy Bowl. Serving purees in our Happy Bowl makes for mess free spoon-feeding and helps baby self-feed too!
How does your family say hooray to purees? What are some of your baby’s favorite puree blends? Let us know how Baby Self Feeding worked with your little one. #ezpzfun #BabySelfFeeding #puree
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz