Your baby’s first 12 months are completely filled with adorable milestones, from learning how to sit up and crawl to growing real little teeth and experiencing various textures and flavours of real foods for the first time! One such exciting milestone is the transition between simple stage 1 purees into amazing combinations and complex textures of stage 2 foods. Once your baby has mastered slurping down soups and smooth purees, then this is the perfect time to switch to stage 2 foods!
What Is Stage 2 Baby Food?
The stage 2 foods you find in the stores are mostly combinations of two or more food items, like sweet potato and chicken dinner, but it is important to know that this stage is mostly about the consistency of food.
While baby foods in stage 1 are completely pureed, stage 2 foods have a thicker consistency and more texture. This slow transition from smooth purees to thicker solids is to get the babies to get used to chewing foods and swallowing.
Every baby develops at a unique pace, so check with your baby’s doctor before you start giving any foods during the first year.
Right Age for an Infant to Start Stage 2 Foods
There is never a right stage 2 baby food age for an infant. It varies from infant to infant, depending on when they started eating their stage 1 food. Generally, stage 1 foods are given to babies when they are between 4 to 6 months old. Considering how long and how well your baby is taking these foods, you would understand when he is ready to switch to stage 2 food items. Babies are usually ready to start with stage 2 foods between 6 and 8 months old, but before you start making the leap, it is necessary to make sure the baby has good stage 1 skills.
Once your baby is doing well with solids in stage 1 and has tried different food in the stage 1 category, it would be safe to go into the next stage. These foods usually have multiple ingredients, in a thicker consistency, along with a few spices.
How to Know Your Child Is Ready for This Stage?
The change from stage 1 to stage 2 is based on the individual development of the baby. There is no certain stage 2 age since every baby has his own unique timeline. Therefore, it is better to think of this transition as a normal continuation of the food journey of the baby, and your baby would switch from trying solid food during stage 1 to exploring all the flavours in combinations of purees in stage 2.
Stage 1 includes introducing solid food, and it is usually between 4 and 6 months depending on when the babies are showing these sign:
- Demonstrating steady head control.
- Sitting up without help.
- Expressing curiosity to foods other people eat.
- Reduction in extrusion reflex.
Though the formula or breast milk provides the baby with enough nutrition, foods from stage 1 are important for getting the child used to textures, flavours, and sensations of food. The stage will also help identify sensitivities and allergies.
Stage 2 is usually experimenting with textures. After several months of having single-ingredient purees in stage 1, your baby will begin expressing readiness for the next stage, and he would want more types of foods with thicker textures and larger portions. You could watch out for these signs in your baby in order to start stage 2 foods:
- Completing a single-ingredient puree and wanting to have more.
- Being able to completely swallow foods from stage 1 without thrusting it with the tongue immediately back out.
- No symptoms or signs of intolerance or allergies to any of the foods in stage 1.
- Having tried different fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes purees in stage 1.
Many babies start stage 2 foods in about 8 months, but you do not have to stress over the exact timeline.
While feeding, it is best if the baby is made to sit in a high chair. You will still be feeding the baby with a spoon, but if he wants to participate and use the utensils, then let him.
List of Foods That Are Ideal for Stage 2
Stage 2 would have foods of a thicker consistency than stage 1 foods, with a little more texture. These could be bought from stores or made at home. Here is a list of stage 2 baby food ideas you could feed your baby:
- Black beans
- Yellow squash
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yoghurt
- Egg yolks
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
Even though the baby is getting used to new textures during stage 2, you must still avoid small pieces or chunks of foods that may cause serious risks. Though the food is thicker at this stage, it is still all about mashes and purees. They can be given any foods that have an appropriate texture for development, but it is important to stay away from foods that could cause choking like nuts, whole grapes, and seeds. Also, avoid giving the baby raw or cooked honey before the age of one.
The texture is not the only difference between stage 1 and stage 2 baby foods. Let’s take a look at some more differences between the stages.
Difference Between Stage 1 and Stage 2 Baby Foods
Since there is no set standard for labelling food products, baby food stages can be really confusing. Slightly different naming conventions are used by different brands, and they will most probably list different recommended age ranges on the product for each stage.
Other than specific naming or branding, the main difference between both these stages can be seen in the:
- Ingredients: baby food belonging to stage 1 are mostly made from single ingredients, while stage 2 baby foods are made by blending two or even more ingredients together. They may still have vegetables and fruits as the primary ingredients while baby foods of stage 2 often include legumes, meat, and grains. Stage 2 would also include a few spices.
- Texture: Stage 1 baby foods are usually very soupy and smoothly pureed to drip off the spoon, while foods belonging to stage 2 are soft but roughly blended, pureed, or strained. These foods would have a denser, thicker consistency, and would include soft chunks of the food that your baby can gum up before swallowing and not choke on it.
How Long Should This Stage Last?
Stage 2 typically lasts for 1-4 months, depending on when the baby has started it until they show signs that they are ready for stage 3. But, do not worry about the exact date since each baby has a unique journey. For most babies, the switch from stage 2 to stage 3 foods will occur when they are around 10 months of age.
A few of the signs to show their readiness for stage 3 is centred around your baby’s interest to eat on his own. That’s when you would notice the following:
- Reaching for the spoon when you feed.
- Pushing your hand away when you feed.
- Playing with the bowls and plates while feeding.
- Almost mastering the pincer grasp.
- Showing better hand-eye coordination.
However, it is best not to worry about the exact timeline of your bay’s transition to stage 3 as the process is natural, and it varies from one infant to another.
Healthy Stage 2 Baby Foods Recipes
These stage 2 homemade baby foods would help your baby discover new textures and flavours!
1. Rice Breakfast Pudding
- Brown or Jasmine rice – 1/2 cup, grind to barley size
- Water – 2 cups
- Apples – 1/4th cup, sliced into slivers or small dices
- Raisins – 1/4th cup, ground or chopped finely to prevent choking hazards (optional)
- Brown sugar – 1/8th cup, optional
- Ginger – 1/2 tsp
- Cinnamon – 2 tsp
- Milk – 1/8th cup (cow’s milk/ breast milk)
- Combine all the ingredients on the list in a medium saucepan.
- Cook on medium-low heat until the rice is fragrant, soft, and a bit soupy, which is generally about 30 minutes.
- Add the milk into the pot of rice and keep heating the mixture for 10 more minutes. Make sure you keep the consistency of the pudding a little soupy and not pasty.
- It is necessary to stir it frequently so that it does not stick to the pot. You could add more water or milk if necessary.
- Serve warm and store the remaining portion of the pudding to the fridge. It can be stored for a day; however, heating it properly prior to feeding the baby is necessary.
2. 30 Minute Cream of Grain Cereal
- Brown rice or millet – 1/4th cup, freshly ground, molasses is optional
- Cinnamon – 1/2-inch stick
- Pure vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Water/ Almond milk – 1 cup (if choosing almond milk, take the sweetened variety)
- Raisins – 1/4th cup, ground or chopped finely to prevent choking hazards (optional)
- Put the water or almond milk, raisins, and ground grain in a pot.
- Bring the mixture to the boiling point and constantly stir until the grain flour has completely absorbed all the liquid.
- Cover the pot after turning off the heat.
- Put the pot over a low simmer for 20-30 minutes or simply reduce the heat.
You could add sliced strawberries, bananas, peaches, blueberries, or nut milk, but these are optional.
3. Bananas and Pastina
- Pastina (tiny pasta) – 2 tbs, wheat-based
- Fresh banana – 1 medium-sized
- Prepare the pastina just like hot cereal.
- Mash the banana and add it to the pastina. Mix well.
- Add milk as desired.
Some people say not to introduce wheat into the diet of babies that are 1-3 years old. Therefore, it is best to consult a paediatrician before you introduce any new foods.
Your baby might take only one or two bites the first time solid foods are offered to him, but it is important to store the remaining properly to prevent bacterial growth. It is best to always divide the prepared food into portions. You may store a portion or two in the refrigerator, but ensure you don’t store them longer than what is needed. Try to feed your baby fresh food at all times. Also, if you are planning on buying level 2 baby foods from the store, read the label carefully to check whether any ingredient could cause allergies or discomfort to the baby.