Babies begin to get more nutrients from solid food beginning at 9 months old. You still spoon feed your baby substances like cereal, but he will use developing motor skills to start feeding himself. Make sure the baby is sitting up in a high chair to eat to reduce the risk of choking. Equip the high chair with a large tray and be prepared for a mess. Choose the right types of food along with appropriate portion sizes.
At 9 months of age a baby begins to pick up objects with her forefinger and thumb. She is ready for finger foods that can easily be transferred from a bowl to her mouth. Finger foods become staples at mealtime. Babies mimic what they see and enjoy being offered food from a parent’s plate. Test the food yourself to make sure it is thoroughly cooked and can easily be broken up in your child’s mouth.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables—canned or fresh—are good food choices. If your baby is eating the vegetables you prepare for dinner, be sure to cook hers a little longer. Nine-month-old babies only have a few teeth, prohibiting them from chewing raw fruits and vegetables. Their portions should be soft enough to easily mash. Remove peels to avoid choking and pesticide residue. Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of vitamins A and C.
Dairy and Protein
Babies get most of their protein from milk; however, they can enjoy some meats and dairy products. Chicken and turkey are the best meat choices, but they need to be cut into very small pieces. The meat will provide an extra source of iron, a nutrient sometimes in short supply in babies. Naturally soft foods such as cottage cheese, tofu and shredded cheese can be enjoyed by 9-month-olds.
Choose toasted bread crusts, crackers and zwieback toast that will quickly melt in the baby’s mouth. Baby food manufacturers make biscuits that are just the right size for little hands. Babies—especially when they are teething—enjoy gumming certain food items. Well-done pasta works well and cooked rice is a good option, as babies enjoy trying different tastes and textures.
Foods to Avoid
Choose foods with no added sugar or salt. Honey is not recommended for babies, as it can carry botulism spores and is difficult for a baby to digest. Beets and spinach should not be given to babies under 1 year old because they diminish the ability of the baby’s hemoglobin to transport oxygen. Steer clear of foods such as nuts, popcorn, grapes, hard candy and tough meat. Check with your doctor for individual requirements.