Table for Three? (9 to 12 Months)
By the time your baby is 9 months, strained baby foods have become such a part of your life that you'd win first place in one of those blindfolded baby food taste-testing games that are so popular at baby showers. Your baby is approaching his first birthday, and with that comes the task of learning how to eat like a big kid. Between 9 and 12 months, table foods become an exciting addition to the feeding regimen. So if your mother-in-law has been dying to feed her grandchild her famous sweet potato casserole, she can have her moment.
Beginning at 9 months, as long as your baby has tolerated the thicker, chunkier baby foods and has learned to mash finger foods between his gums, you can go ahead and introduce finely chopped, diced, or mashed table foods. Try diced bananas, peaches, or chopped, cooked carrots, which are some favorite firsts. They're soft and easy for baby to gum. There are a few foods that shouldn't be introduced until later, but for the most part you can have fun now letting your child join in dinner right along with you. Just don't overseason food for babies. While it's true that added salt isn't good for any of us, heavy amounts of seasoning can overwhelm a baby -- even if you've been eating spicy foods while nursing. Let your child decide if he likes plain carrots before you reach for the salt shaker.
You can still feed him jarred foods until he becomes better at feeding himself grown-up foods, but many babies begin to refuse strained foods once they realize they can eat the real thing. That's fine as long as you aim for this recommended daily intake: 2 servings of fruit (3 to 4 tablespoonfuls); 2 to 3 servings of vegetables (3 to 4 tablespoonfuls); 2 servings of meat or protein (3 to 4 tablespoonfuls); 2 to 3 servings of grains like cereal (3 to 4 tablespoonfuls), crackers, or toast; and 3 to 4 servings of 6 to 8 ounces of formula or breast milk.