Between 4 and 6 months of age, your baby is old enough to begin eating pureed baby foods. Pureed baby foods are your child's first introduction to regular foods, because they are easy to swallow and don't pose a choking hazard. If your baby has started to easily gulps down the purees, it might be time to start thinking about introducing small pieces of the food that the rest of the family is eating. Knowing the approximate age that babies are ready to eat table foods will help you decide when the time is right for your little one to take this next step.
When your baby reaches about 8 months old, he's probably quite adept at swallowing a variety of baby food purees. He's probably also started showing interest in what you're eating by reaching for your fork or plate at meal times. You can start introducing a variety of table foods at this age, as long as they are soft and cut into tiny pieces. The Healthy Children.org website, from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that food for babies and toddlers be cut into 1/2-inch sized pieces to avoid choking. As your baby approaches 9 months of age, he'll be able to start picking up his own food, so serving foods that aren't pureed is a good way to encourage this new skill.
Puree or Solid?
The primary reason that younger babies need pureed baby foods is because they don't have the dexterity to chew food thoroughly and they usually don't have enough teeth, either. Pureed foods prevent choking because they simply require your little one to swallow them. Eating solid foods is a benefit as your baby gets older because you can expose him to a wider variety of nutritious options with many different flavors and textures. Learning to feed himself these foods encourages fine motor skill development, too.
It'll take some getting used to once you begin serving foods your baby has to gum or chew instead of foods he just has to swallow. Start by mixing tiny pieces of the table foods into a puree he already enjoys. Grind or fork-mash the new foods before adding them to the puree so they don't pose a choking hazard. You might also cut new foods into tiny pieces and scatter them on his high chair. That way he can choose which ones he'd like to try, as well as work on fine-tuning his pincher grasp as he picks them up. Eat meals with your baby so he can watch how to use a spoon or fork, too. That will set the stage for learning how to use a spoon to transfer food into his own mouth, which he'll be able to do in the next few months.
Only serve your baby soft foods that are easy to gum or chew. Bananas, peaches, well-cooked green beans, small pieces of bread and cooked pasta are a few options that most babies enjoy. Certain foods that are hard, round and smooth, like hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes, olives, cherries,raisins, popcorn and nuts, pose a choking hazard and should not be offered to your baby at all at this age, no matter how small the pieces are cut. according to the Healthy Children.website, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics. For other foods, cut into pieces that are no larger than 1/2-inch sized pieces, recommends Healthy Children.org. Always supervise your baby when he's eating to help reduce the risk of choking. You shouldn't feed babies under the age of 1 honey, either. Honey contains spores that can cause botulism in babies, according to KidsHealth.