By now your baby has become skilled at eating from a spoon. You may have even provided finger foods for him to practice with. This month will be a little bit more exciting for you and for your baby as you introduce more pieces of food in place of smooth blended food. Because your baby has now gained the ability to grasp with his first finger and thumb he will be able to feed himself these new small pieces of food. Even though baby foods are typically bland due to the lack of additives like salt or sugar, babies still enjoy variety and are building a healthy palate. Textures can be expanded from fine blended to coarse and even safe bite-sized soft chunks, providing for lots of variety in your toddler's diet.
First Priority When Feeding
At this age, it is still important that your baby continues to consume formula or breast milk as her primary source of nutrition. Every baby is different, but typically 23 to 32 oz. of formula or breast milk throughout the day is sufficient. At this point in her growth, solid foods are still more for development and socializing rather than full nutritional values. Some babies may begin to desire solid food even after a full formula or breast milk meal. This can be a sign of your baby's maturing appetite. Eventually, your child with get most all of his nutrients from food rather than formula or breast milk.
Cereals and Grains
If you started your baby on single grain cereals, then he is probably able to eat nearly all grains ranging from rice to barley. Try mixing multiple grains together to maximize the health benefits. While white rice that is iron fortified is important, whole grains and fiber are also important. Hard-toasted bread and other grain products can be given to your baby as a snack and as a tool for practicing self-feeding. Be sure all pieces of food are small enough not to cause your baby to choke.
Fruits and Veggies
Depending on how much solid food your baby eats, fruits can be offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegetables make great additions to lunch and dinner. At this point in time you may offer uncooked fruits that are soft and tender and either fork-mashed or diced into small pieces. Your baby will also be able to eat small pieces of soft-cooked vegetables. Avoid citrus fruits and carrots, as well as berries that have seeds in them because they can upset your baby's tummy or cause her to choke. Be careful not to offer your baby a large amount of any food you have not yet introduced. Always wait four days between new foods to ensure your baby does not have any allergies.
Always check with your pediatrician before offering a food that you are unsure about. Most doctors recommend meat as a first food because of the iron it contains. Be sure to offer meat in a mostly blended form to prevent choking. Protein can be added to any of your baby's meals. Tofu can easily be mixed in with cereal or fruit. Your baby may also enjoy eating tofu cubes.
In most cases, whole milk yogurt can be offered to your 8-month-old baby. Commercial baby yogurt products are available at most supermarkets. Be sure to check with your pediatrician before offering milk products or mild cheese to your baby. It is especially important to consult with your doctor if milk allergies are present in your family. As with any new food, be sure to offer a small amount the first time and watch for reactions.