Mealtime with your older baby is becoming a freewheeling affair. Your youngster is growing more independent by the day, learning to crawl and stand. She is trying her hand at wielding a spoon, testing the laws of physics by dropping food onto the floor, and testing your patience as she smears it in her hair.
How to Start
If your baby has not tried finger foods already, she'll be ready to start now. At every meal, offer a variety of tiny pieces of "real" food. Some favorites are O-shaped cereals, small pasta pieces, shredded chicken or flaked fish, well-cooked peas and finely diced carrots, and scrambled eggs. By 9 months, babies can generally gnaw bready foods like teething biscuits, crackers, bagels, and breads, as long as parents keep a close watch. Here are the sure signs that your baby can play a more active role at mealtime:
• Your baby has choppers. Even babies who are slow to teethe can gum soft finger foods very well, but teeth are a natural sign of readiness for regular foods.
• Your baby can deliberately get food into his own mouth.
• Your baby is constantly trying to put nonfood items in his mouth.
How to Progress
By the end of the first year, aim to serve as much "table food" as you can, weaning your baby off mushes and purees. The recipes coming up in this chapter look more like regular food and can be enjoyed by parents as well as baby. Three meals a day is the goal. Keep introducing new foods one at a time, waiting a few days before trying the next one.
At this age, daily breast or formula feedings will diminish to about 3 to 4 bottles or 4 to 6 nursing sessions, totaling 16 to 24 ounces (500 to 750 ml) of liquid. It may be hard to believe, but until age 1, most of your baby's nutrition still comes from his breast milk or formula; food continues to be mostly about experimentation and experiencing new flavors. Now that your baby has a good repertoire of regular foods, keep pushing the envelope with new flavors and textures.
From Love in Spoonfuls, Parenting's recipe book of fast and easy ways to make nutritious food for your baby.