From about twelve months of age your baby will be chewing more using their gums. Your baby is also likely to become more independent and will prefer to feed themselves, using their hands to explore tastes and textures. The amount of food you offer your baby will depend on your baby’s appetite.
Preparing food for toddler
When preparing foods, food safety is important. Always wash your hands before you begin and try using different coloured boards; one each for chopping meats, fruits and vegetables. If you’re using a microwave oven to heat baby’s food, always stir food thoroughly before serving, and check the temperature.
At 12 months your baby can enjoy the same food as the rest of the family. Foods can be cut up into bite size pieces or mashed with a fork. Two healthy snacks can be enjoyed for morning and afternoon tea and again, allow your baby’s behaviour to decide whether you offer a milk feed before or after their solid food.
Be prepared for mess!
- Offer your baby a variety of foods with different sizes, tastes and textures
- Playing with food is your baby’s way of exploring new textures, shapes and sizes; and learning to eat family foods.
- Babies very quickly like to feed themselves, so give your baby a spoon to hold from the start.
Babies enjoy foods that they can pick up with their hands and eat by themselves.
- Boiled or steamed vegetables – potato, pumpkin, carrot circles, zucchini strips, beans, peas or slices of beetroot.
- Hard vegetables need to be well cooked and offered as large chunks.
- Raw foods – whole small banana, tomato slices, a small ripe pear, a small whole orange, peeled.
- Cooked lean meat may be cut into strips for chewing or small thin pieces to be picked up with the thumb and forefinger.
What about allergic reactions?
If allergy is a problem in your family or you are concerned seek advice about baby allergies from your child and family health nurses or doctor
Prevent your baby from choking by:
- Always remain with your baby while they are eating
- Using a safety harness when your baby is in a high chair or low chair to prevent your baby from moving around while eating
- Avoid giving nuts, small hard foods (such as raw or undercooked pieces of hard fruit and vegetables, popcorn, rice cakes and cocktail frankfurts) and small slippery foods (such as whole grapes and whole cherry tomatoes)
Top tips for toddlers
- Toddler follow-on milks are not necessary.
- Avoid nutrient poor foods with high levels of saturated fat, sugar, or salt (e.g. cakes, biscuits, confectionery and potato chips)
- Avoid forcing your child to eat as forcing children to eat usually leads to power struggles and the child eating less. The child may learn to associate mealtimes as an unpleasant experience
- Avoid making deals with your child i.e. just 2 more bites and you can have dessert.