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Yes, it's normal for babies to balk the first time (or many times) they try food other than breast milk, formula, or soupy purees. That's why it's important to keep offering different foods – especially healthy choices like vegetables – to babies who are developmentally ready.
But if your child still rejects lumpy or textured solid food at 1 year old, or if he isn't feeding himself finger foods by 12 to 15 months, check in with your doctor, just to be on the safe side. It could indicate that your child has a developmental problem that may be improved with the right intervention.
Some babies have a sensitive gag reflex that makes them gag on lumpy food. (They may have even had difficulty latching on when nursing as infants.) If your baby has trouble eating textured or lumpy food without gagging, sticking to pureed food isn't the answer – that will only take him longer to learn how to chew.
To help your child tolerate lumpy food, start adding things with a uniform texture – like wheat germ or graham cracker crumbs – to pureed food. Start with a small amount and add more as your child gets used to the texture. Sometimes solids that dissolve easily, such as baby crackers, can also ease the transition to textured food.
If your baby is sensitive to the texture of finger foods, let him experience different textures in other ways – give him feathers, a bumpy ball, or cooked noodles to play with. Teething toys that have bumps can help too. Getting used to new sensations at playtime might make him more open to unfamiliar food textures.
Learn more about the best finger foods and when to introduce them and what it means if your toddler pushes food out of his mouth.