You want to start introducing your toddler to big kid food very soon, yet you are unsure about how to transition from baby food, and you are also worried about how your toddler will react!
The fact of the matter is, when you are transitioning your toddler to big kid food, you are going to end up having to deal with a lot of trial and error. There will be issues with what your child will or will not eat, feeding schedules and so on. However, just remember that just like potty training, and moving your baby from a crib to a toddler bed- making this change with their food is a huge one! Therefore, you must be patient while this change is happening.
Bear in mind as well that you will not want to wait too long to make this transition either. Babies get most of their nutrients from breast milk or formula until they are around 11 to 12 months old, then they can start eating more baby food. However, if you have a child that was a preemie, or has problems with gagging, or has sensory issues, then you will want to wait. Before you consider making this transition, that is when you must speak with your child’s pediatrician.
However, whenever you are ready to make this huge step, and after you get the OK from the pediatrician, here are steps on how to transition from baby food to big kid food:
Thicken the Baby Food
A week before you begin to fully make this transition, you will want to start thickening your toddler’s baby food. Thicker foods need more movement of the mouth muscles and tongue. This is what will lay a good foundation for your toddler being able to eat table foods. This is what needs to be done:
- If you have been making your own baby foods, be sure to add less water when pureeing. With less water in the food, that will automatically make it thicker.
- Start buying Stage 2 baby food. If you are buying baby food instead of making it yourself, you can start buying stage 2 food because it is thicker. However, don’t buy stage 3 yet because there are chunks of food that they will not be able to handle quite yet.
Allow Your Baby to Watch You Eat
Once you have already thickened your baby’s food, be sure to start eating around the same time as your baby. That means after you finish feeding your child, keep him or her in the high chair so he or she can watch you eat. Remember, babies and toddlers start off as visual learners. So if they watch you eat, they will get the message! Here is what to do:
- Let your child watch you put food into your mouth. Take a piece of food from your plate, and make sure your little one is watching you do this, and put it in your mouth. They will again, learn from this.
- Chew with your mouth open. This is normally considered to be poor table manners. However, your child will benefit from watching you chew your food with your mouth open! Your child will not be grossed out at this point. That is a promise. You can even chew loudly to emphasize the message.
Start with Baby Puffs
Once your child has gotten used to eating thickened baby food and has been watching you eat too so that he or she can learn, now it is time to start with real solids. And the first thing to do is to make sure your child is sitting securely in the high chair so he or she cannot attempt to fall or climb out.
The first solid that babies must start with are puffs. Not bananas, cottage cheese or eggs, but baby puffs. The great thing about puffs is that they can be broken up, and will dissolve in saliva in seconds so you do not have to worry about your toddler choking if it is not chewed properly! They also come in a variety of flavors such as apple, banana, maple cinnamon, and peach. They are the best food to teach little ones self-feeding and tactility.
The Next Step After Puffs
Once your child is used to eating these puffs, then you can move onto real finger foods. This could take a week or longer. Just make sure that the finger foods are broken down into very small pieces so there is a very little risk of gagging and choking. It is best to start off with softer foods before giving your kids even very small pieces of meat like chicken. Here are some examples.
- Pieces of broken up bananas
- Pieces of cheese that are thin
- Pasta that is specifically made for babies and toddlers
- Small pieces of bread without the crust
- Cooked up vegetables
Once your toddler is more comfortable with eating these foods, then you can give him or her small pieces of meat and see how your child does.
However, if you feel these steps on how to transition from baby food, your little one will be fine and will be eating table foods, just like mom, dad and the big sibling!