Baby Feeding Schedule: 9 to 12 Months Old
Babies between 9 and 12 months old are often in a transitional feeding stage; they've conquered jarred food but don't have the teeth for chicken nuggets. Thankfully, it's relatively easy to come up with fun, simple meals that provide plenty of nutrition. Here's a feeding schedule to use as a guide.
Best Foods for 9- to 12-Month-Old Babies
Just like adults, babies need a wide variety of nutrients. They should get five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, though their serving sizes are tiny (for a 6-month-old, a tablespoon or two can be a serving; for a 1-year-old, it's more like 1/4 cup). A good phrase to remember is "eat the rainbow." Over the course of a day, serve lots of different colors, including green (peas, green beans, spinach, asparagus, zucchini), orange (sweet potatoes, cantaloupe), yellow (squash, bananas), and red (cooked tomatoes, red peppers).
Although it's tempting to count a cup of juice as a fruit serving, the beverage isn't as nutritious as you think—it often contains added sugar and zero fiber. Plus, if juice replaces breast milk or formula, your child may not get the protein they need, says dietitian Lauren D. Massey of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville. Ask your pediatrician for guidelines on how much juice to serve your baby, if any.
Breads and grains—the base of the food pyramid—should also be included in a 9-month-old feeding schedule. Babies readily eat cereal, cooked noodles, soft breads, and rice. It's just as easy to give them enough dairy, since babies this age still drink breast milk or formula daily. Don't forget to serve extra protein in the form of chicken, fish, beans, or eggs.
Make sure everything you serve to a young baby is soft—about the consistency of a ripe banana. As their first birthday approaches, you can start offering foods with more texture, such as sandwiches. Avoid choking hazards like grapes, nuts, raisins, chunks of meat, hard candy, and marshmallows. Also, while prepackaged finger foods are easy to find, you should use them sparingly to avoid the extra sugar and preservatives
How to Introduce New Foods
Make mealtime easy by using jarred or homemade baby food in innovative ways. For example, instead of spooning pureed peas into their mouth, you might stir them into mashed potatoes or tiny cooked pasta. Jarred peaches can be swirled into unsweetened yogurt, pears become a pancake topping—you get the idea.
You can also make any food baby-friendly by using a food processor or a steamer. For instance, if you're making pasta with beans and broccoli for dinner, you can simply toss your baby's portion into the food processor. The same process works with lasagna or cooked chicken and mashed potatoes.
As you add new foods to your baby's diet, continue watching for allergies, as you did with jarred food and baby cereal. Introduce one new food at a time so you can quickly spot an adverse reaction. Your baby will make funny faces as they experiment with new tastes and textures, and they'll inevitably reject some meals along the way. Be patient—if couscous doesn't go over well one night, it might next week.
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It also helps to adopt the motto "let it slide." Babies this age eat when they're hungry and don't have food hang-ups yet. Keep it that way by letting your child set the pace. Force-feeding babies may actually hinder their ability to tell when they're full, says Massey, which could lead to overeating as they grow up. Remember that babies have tiny stomachs, and even a few tablespoons of food at any meal may make them feel stuffed.
Creative Meal Ideas for 9 to 12 Months
As a parent, you get to build the foundation of your child's eating habits. Making healthy, tasty, and convenient meals can set them up for a lifetime of good eating. Need some help coming up with 9-month-old baby food, 10-month-old baby food, 11-month-old baby food, or 12-month-old baby food? We've rounded up breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas that are easy to make and full of nutrition.
Oatmeal: Start with any unsweetened oats, and make them with breast milk, formula, water, or even juice. Stir in banana slices and jarred or home-steamed fruit, such as pears or apples.
Pancakes or waffles: Use a whole-grain mix to make this 9- to 12-month-old baby food, and consider adding a bit of wheat germ for a health boost. For some variety, top with pureed fruit—and avoid sugary (and non-nutritious) syrup.
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Eggs: Add a tablespoon of cottage cheese and scramble the eggs. You can also mix in mashed tofu or a softened vegetable.
Grilled cheese: Use whole-wheat bread, shredded cheese (which melts easily), and a little butter. Cut the sandwich into bites before serving. To introduce new textures, add a thinly sliced avocado.
Yogurt: Stick to unsweetened yogurt, and add jarred or home-steamed fresh fruit for flavor.
Sandwich: Use very soft bread and cut off the crusts. If making the sandwich with peanut butter, spread on a small amount (too much can be a choking hazard) and spread it thinly. Babies might also enjoy sandwiches with cooked egg yolks, avocado, hummus, or cream cheese.
Soup: Boil broth with soft veggies and noodles. Serve lukewarm—not hot—and only a little at a time. For some variety, add mashed beans, well-shredded meats, or shredded cheese.
Macaroni and cheese: Try making this kid-friendly dish from scratch: toss soft, whole-wheat noodles with butter and shredded cheese. Increase the nutrition by stirring in pureed green vegetables (such as peas, spinach, or broccoli) or mixing with mashed beans or shredded meat.
Baked potato: Remove a sweet or white potato from its skin and mash in butter, cheese, and soft veggies. Alternatively, you can put the potato through a food processor with veggies, cheese, butter, and broth.
Pasta/rice/couscous: Run these grains through a food processor with a sauce. If you're using a package, use the seasoning sparingly. Cooked meats or veggies, such as zucchini and squash, can round out the meal.
Lasagna: Put the lasagna filling (cheese, spinach, meat, and/or sauce) through a food processor. No-cook noodles and bottled sauce can speed up the preparation. Also consider experimenting with different cheeses, veggies, and meats in the filling.
The family dinner: Don't be intimidated—if there aren't any potential allergens or choking hazards, your family's meal is fair game for your baby. Simply run their portion through a food processor to make it into a mash. The result doesn't need to be perfectly smooth for older babies.