Babies first start touching and playing with puree when we introduce them to solids, usually around 6 months. This exploration of purees lays down pathways in the brain for understanding a lot about food textures. If kids have missed this step for any reason, it’s a good idea to come back to basics and explore purees!There are a lot of reasons purees are a great texture for many kids. Purees don’t require chewing. This is the first texture we give to babies because it can be managed by pressing the tongue against the palate. Picky eaters often have delayed oral motor skills and foods that don’t require a lot of chewing are usually favorites (ex: chicken nuggets). Purees can help picky eaters get great nutrition as they work towards age appropriate oral motor skills.
Purees are extremely versatile! children who need thickened liquids can eat purees that are the thickened to their individual needs. Medications can be hidden in purees and flavors can be masked with delicious flavorings like vanilla and cinnamon. For kids who need extra calories to thrive, high calorie foods like butter, cream and cream cheese are easily added to purees, too. This pumpkin pie sweet potato puree recipe from Nikki looks amazing! The possibilities are endless!
Purees are also great for learning how to use a spoon. You can start handing over the spoon whenever your child starts reaching for it, usually between 9-12 months. At this point you can scoop the food for your child and let them help bring the spoon to their mouths.
You can also make any puree thicker so it stays on the spoon better, which helps with the mess and how much actually makes it to a child’s mouth. I like to use a little baby oatmeal or mashed up banana to thicken, depending on the base food. It is so empowering when a child can bring food to their mouths themselves rather than being fed!
The rest of the week here at Learn To Love Food will be devoted to activities with purees.
Enjoy and happy food play!