A: Infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months can enjoy a wide range of foods. Once they’re able to sit up in a high chair and bring their hands to their mouths (they’ll demonstrate this by putting anything and everything into their mouths!), they’ll be able to consume a variety of finger foods. These include cereals and other grains (Cheerios, soft breads, crackers, pasta); fruits (bananas, applesauce); vegetables (potatoes, peas, beans); and meats (such as skinless poultry and beef). It’s important to prepare these foods in a way that minimizes choking risks; puree, gently mash, or cut foods into small pieces to make them easier to swallow. Don’t give foods that can be choking hazards such as nuts, nut butters, seeds, big pieces of meat, whole grapes, raw or hard-to-chew fruits and vegetables, or anything that’s too chewy (like granola bars or candy).
You can also offer 100% fruit juices in very small amounts (no more than ½ cup a day), preferably diluted, to save calories and to leave more room for more nutritious, fiber-rich fruit. Whole-milk dairy products like shredded cheese and yogurt can also be offered if your baby has tolerated breast milk or cow’s milk-based formulas and if there’s no family history of milk allergies. Avoid giving infants cow’s milk (as a replacement for breast milk or formula) or honey until they’re age 1, when their digestive systems have matured. Some experts also recommend delaying the introduction of fish and eggs until after age 1 or beyond, since they may be allergens. A good rule of thumb is to introduce new foods one by one so that you’ll be able to identify a possible allergic reaction. If your baby develops diarrhea or a rash or starts to vomit after eating a certain food, consult with your pediatrician.
It’s exciting when babies learn to eat with the rest of the family, so try to create a calm, nurturing, and pleasant atmosphere at meal times. This will not only help your infant to try new foods, but also enjoy the family eating experience for years to come.