5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge
I just wrapped up an EPIC week hosting the Fortified Family's 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge.
This was an awesome experience born out of SO MANY questions I received all about what EXACTLY can you do to push your baby's palate?
Now, we KNOW that offering your baby the greatest number of flavors, tastes and textures is one of the KEY ways to help raise an eager eater.
Flavors and tastes are easy-enough and the key here is offering variety. But textures sometimes get the short end of the stick - and so that was the point of hosting this texture challenge.
You see, there's research to suggest that texture aversion plays a pretty important role in the development of picky eating.
What I see a LOT in my practice working with families and infant feeding is that parents will get going on one or two textures (like purees, and then soft solid foods)...but they shortly get STUCK. And so I'll work with families who have a baby that by one year of age has just had exposure to as little as 8 or 10 foods...and that's no bueno when it comes to building an eager eater.
One of the biggest barriers to introducing new foods is not knowing how to try textures. So here's how we broke down the texture challenge to help parents and caregivers navigate their babies through 5 tricky textures:
Day 1 - Stringy
We came out swinging on day 1 by challenging the challengers to the first texture: stringy. Now of course we don't want to offer stringy foods that are a choking risk, like raw celery or rhubarb - but there are plenty of stringy foods that are great for little ones just learning how to eat.
If you want to see the stringy recipe of the day as well as some other easy ideas for introducing stringy foods, check out the full 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge available here.
Day 2 - Chewy
Day 2 was all about chewy foods. Now, you might be thinking, "Oh, chewy? That's an easy one. I chew all of my food!" Yes, you do...because you know HOW to eat.
But you have to remember - your baby is still learning how to eat...and chewing is an important part of that, so we brought on the chewy foods!
Just a heads up: your baby does not need teeth to start chewing and learning how to eat. But you know how it goes with muscle and motor skill development - if you don't use it...you lose it!
If you want to see the chewy recipe of the day as well as some other easy ideas for introducing chewy foods, check out the full 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge available here.
Day 3 - Rubbery
Once we passed the halfway point of the 5 Day Texture Challenge, it was no holds barred. We hit it hard with rubbery foods, to really get going on pushing your baby's palate!
Now, when I surveyed my audience in the pre-challenge period - the food these adults reported as least likely to like from a texture standpoint was indeed rubbery.
As an adult, YOU may not like the rubbery texture of mushrooms, but that is a conditioned response that your baby has not yet developed.
We tackled one of the most maligned of rubbery foods: mushrooms, with an exciting recipe that combined mushrooms with baby corn.
If you want to see the rubbery recipe of the day as well as some other easy ideas for introducing rubbery foods, check out the full 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge available here.
Day 4 - Creamy
The mere name "creamy" makes many adults cringe! So we got to work pushing our babies' palates with a really unique way to incorporate avocado.
Now, everyone in the self-feeding sphere routinely cites avocado as a great first baby food. With its good fat profile and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, there's no doubt avocado is a good place to start.
But what about pushing your baby along the texture spectrum - beyond offering plain avocado slices, what's a good way to start upping the ante in the avocado arena?
Our day 4 recipe was a HUGE hit with the hundreds of parents and caregivers who were so actively involved in this challenge. We had a TON of feedback inside of our private Facebook group and lots of great pics and videos of babies going to town on this unique avocado recipe.
If you want to see the creamy recipe of the day as well as some other easy ideas for introducing creamy foods (plus some training on the importance of including purees - even if you're doing baby-led weaning), check out the full 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge available here.
Day 5 - Spongy
I saved one of the weirdest textures for last...so these texture trying babies could go out with a BANG!
We tackled SPONGY foods as our final texture (the spelling is odd, I know...but it's the texture that resembles a sponge).
Now pony sometimes gets a bad rap as being synonymous with tasteless. But the spongy food I picked for Day 5 (tofu) was miraculously made up and a HUGE hit with our babies, their older siblings and parents alike!
In this final recipe I tapped into tofu's ability to be a "flavor potentiator" - basically it takes on and enhances the flavor of the foods that tit comes into contact with.
If you want to see the spongy tofu recipe of the day as well as some other easy ideas for introducing spongy foods, check out the full 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge available here.
Texture Challenge Takeaways
All in all it was an awesome week meeting so many new friends from around the world in our texture challenge. We had parents from Indonesia, New Zealand and Italy partaking as well as the majority of the group which was from N. America.
Our challengers from Australia had a BIT of trouble finding some of the ingredients, but it was so great to see the ideas and collaboration from fellow friends in the group who made great suggestions for substitutions. We accommodated for a number of food allergies as well and identified some challengers who would likely benefit from additional feeding therapy with a qualified specialist.
At the end of the day, I was most impressed by how ENGAGED our audience was. They were so active in posting pictures and videos, sharing similar recipes as well as their texture takedown success stories...and even a few setbacks.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the 5 Day Baby Food Texture Challenge. Based on your feedback I'm working on a few more challenge-based events for your babies (and even bigger kids) that will kick off later in the year.
If you want to be alerted of the upcoming challenges, be sure to sign up for my email list and I hope to see YOU inside of our next food challenge!