You’re doing your best to fill that cute little belly with a variety of healthy baby foods, and your baby may already be exploring bites from the family meals. Great job, Mom! Eventually your little one will ditch the mush completely, but he needs your help to get there.
Here are two of the most important things you need to know about feeding your older baby and providing nutritious baby drinks.
By 9 months, your baby is probably eating a combination of mashed and finger foods. Now is the time to introduce dishes from the family table—even as you continue providing healthy baby foods. The transition is good for everyone! Soon you can stop preparing separate mashed meals for your littlest eater by choosing family meals that break down easily into baby-friendly portions. Most importantly, your child is learning an essential skill.
Be patient. It's important to follow your baby’s readiness signs, aiming to transition to mostly family meals by 1 year of age. Let his taste buds get used to the good stuff—as in good for him. By keeping the desserts and sweets out of sight for now, you’re helping your child grow into a healthy eater.
Breastmilk or iron-fortified formula will continue to provide your baby’s essential nutrition, but you can start getting him ready to drink from an open cup with a few sips of water at mealtimes (with your help of course). It’s good practice for your baby’s developmental growth, and he will probably get a kick out of it too!
It may be tempting to offer your child juice, but remember even 100 percent juice contains as much sugar as soda. And all that sugar can lead to diarrhea, diaper rash and tooth decay—not to mention a preference for sweet drinks. If you are already giving your baby juice, we recommend watering it down (with more water and less juice each time), and serving it only in an open cup with meals (not in the sippy because it's even worse for his teeth).
As for other kinds of milk—cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc.—your baby’s digestive system is still not ready to handle them. Stick to breastmilk or iron-fortified formula until after his first birthday.
For more information on drinks for your baby, click here.