If your child is on a pureed diet, you are in luck. Although you may not think of this as a lucky situation, it is the ideal consistency for underweight children. There is so much that can be given to children who will only accept pureed and smooth foods once you think outside the box!
Although when most people think of pureed food they commonly think of mashed potatoes, yogurt and pudding, in reality almost every table food can be put in the food processor with a little liquid and pureed to the desired consistency.
The other day I saw a parent with a 3 year old with sensory integration disorder who only ate pureed food. “The saddest thing about this,” she said “is he doesn’t even know what pizza tastes like”. Well, no, maybe he can’t get the full experience of pizza. He can’t eat a full slice or appreciate the gooeyness of the cheese or the crispness of the crust. A child on a pureed diet can, however, know the flavor of pizza! Just cut up a slice and throw it in the food processor with some milk and puree it well. Although you may not like the look of it, the flavor of pizza is still the same, regardless of consistency.
Below is a list of foods from each food group that can be easily pureed, but I usually encourage families to puree whatever the rest of the family is eating.
Liquids to add include milk, cream, broth, juice and water, although just about any beverage would be helpful in the pureeing process, depending on the overall flavor and theme of the food. Sour cream, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce or soup, half and half and juices can also be used to puree. Go with the liquid that matches the food the best in order to bring out the flavors of the food and keep the overall taste as similar as possible to its regular consistency counterpart. Also consider what your child can tolerate and aim to make the foods as calorie dense as possible without getting your little one sick.
Pureed foods are necessary for children with swallowing problems and tactile defensiveness because they are the only foods many of these children will accept.
FRUIT: Applesauce, peaches (remove skin), plums, canned fruit
VEGETABLES: Carrots, squash, spinach, broccoli
MEAT: Chicken, pork, beef, fish **Cook all meat well and check consistency. Fibrous meat can be difficult to puree.
STARCHES: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, baby Rice Cereal, pastina, pancakes, waffles, french toast
DAIRY: Yogurt, pudding, milk, ice Cream
Calorie boosting pureed food is easy. Just add dissolvable powders or high calorie liquids to the food to calorie boost. Oil, cream, gravy, butter or nonfat dried milk powder are all good options to add calories for children who don’t eat enough calories.
If your child is used to the same few foods everyday, new food should be introduced slowly as he tolerates it. For example, if he currently eats three foods, introduce one new food two times per day for seven days. If he begins to take to it, incorporate that food as a preferred food and introduce a fifth food the next week. As your child expands the variety of food he will accept, new foods can be introduced on a more regular basis. It is important to introduce foods slowly not only to rule out allergies but also to get the child with tactile defensiveness used to the new food and comfortable with the change.
The foods above will help balance your child’s pureed diet while he receives treatment to accept higher level textures as well.
There are many cookbooks that specialize in pureed food. If you feel your child is bored of the food he's eating, the cookbooks provide new and different recipes to encourage a greater variety for a pureed diet. If you need help or suggestions on how to plan healthy meals for you child to ensure she is getting a balanced diet, make an appointment with us.