From about eight months of age your baby will start to chew using their gums. When this starts to occur, it is a sign that they are ready to try more coarsely mashed or minced foods. As they grow, they are 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 their appetite.
Preparing food for baby
When preparing foods, care must be taken to ensure your baby and family are protected from infections. Always wash your hands before you begin food preparation and use different coloured boards for chopping meats, fruits and vegetables. If you’re using a microwave oven to heat your baby’s food, always stir food thoroughly before serving, and check the temperature.
Should I chop, mash or puree?
- Most babies are enjoying 3 meals a day & even a small dessert as part of their baby feeding routine. They will now enjoy some of the best baby food, including a wider variety of mashed and minced foods. At this time some parents choose to offer solids first then milk feed.
- At 9 months a morning or afternoon snack could be introduced. Baby will have started to use their thumb and finger to enjoy finger foods. Allow your baby’s behaviour to decide whether you offer a milk feed before or after their solid food.
- At 12 months baby can enjoy the same food as the rest of the family. 12 month old baby foods can be cut up into bite size pieces or mashed. Two healthy snacks can be enjoyed for morning and afternoon tea and again.
Managing the mess
Learning to eat can be a messy process! As a parent you need to stay as calm as possible, though this can be difficult at times. The easy way to manage this process is to give your baby a spoon to hold during feeding even though they will not be competent using the spoon until they are about 18 months.
What about allergic reactions?
- If you are concerned your baby has had an allergic reaction to a particular food, call 000 immediately. Some allergies can be life threatening and can include breathing problems, wheezing, swelling of lips or throat, a severe red rash, diarrhoea or vomiting.
- The most common food allergies for babies tend to be cow’s milk, eggs, soybeans, peanuts including cashews, almonds and brazil nuts, wheat, fish or shellfish.
- Some babies have a food intolerance, which is different to a food allergy as it is generally a less severe reaction and is not caused by the immune system. Common food intolerances include dairy products, lactose, strawberries, tomatoes and citrus fruits.
Keeping baby safe
- Choking is always a concern for parents when their baby starts eating chopped or finger foods. Great care needs to be taken when offering some foods especially those with bones or raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables
- When buying fish, choose fillets that do not have bones and double check there really are no bones.
- Ensure your baby is seated when eating in a high chair or baby chair and use the safety harness
- You or another adult should always be present and actively supervising when your baby is eating.