Mealtime Milestone for Baby: Family Dinners!

6-12 Months

As your baby grows, his nutritional needs grow and change, too. Starting around 9 months, your baby is ready to eat some table foods, and with some practice, he will hit a major mealtime milestone by the time he’s a year old: eating the same meal as the rest of the family! This is a great opportunity to put your positive food parenting skills to work by being a good role model with what you eat and drink.

Before he pulls up his (high) chair to the table, learn which baby foods to phase out and how to make sure he’s getting enough nutrients, and grab some menu ideas that are perfect for the whole family!

Getting started

By the time your baby is 9 months old, he may be enjoying a combination of mashed and finger foods. Over the next few months, he’ll be ready for even more table foods and, with a few easy tweaks, you can feed your baby the same healthy meal you provide for the rest of the family!

Try these tips as you transition baby to the family meal:

  • If he’s still eating purees and strained foods, make them chunkier to help him develop the skills he needs to eat regular food.
  • Offer finger foods for baby, such as peas or whole-wheat noodles, at each meal. No teeth? No problem! Babies use their gums to chew. A good rule of thumb: If you can crush a food between your fingers, it’s OK for baby.

Baby foods you can soon phase out

  • Baby food. It’s best to give her baby-size bites of real food and include her in the family meal.
  • Pouches. We don’t recommend them. Overusing pouches and letting baby slurp food instead of practicing self-feeding can slow her fine motor-skill development.
  • Puffs and rice rusks. They may claim to include veggies, such as kale and beets, but puffs and rusks don’t fulfill nutritional needs for babies. Plus, they dissolve in baby’s mouth, so she doesn’t learn how to chew and swallow her food when she’s ready.
  • The bottle and sippy cup. Let baby practice with an open cup so she will be ready to ditch the bottle and sippy cup around her first birthday.

Nutritional needs for baby

As he transitions away from baby foods to eating with the family, baby still needs plenty of iron. Here are easy ways to give him the iron his body needs:

  • Mix iron-fortified infant cereal into regular oatmeal.
  • Choose iron-fortified dry cereals such as toasted oats. Make sure to check the label—not all brands add iron.
  • Serve ground or pulled pieces of beef, pork or dark-meat chicken to boost baby’s iron. These are easy for him to eat and pack in more iron than chicken breast.
  • Help baby love his veggies by offering lots of dark green veggies, like cooked spinach or broccoli.
  • Beans and lentils are other great sources of iron (and easy for baby to eat).

Meal ideas the whole family can enjoy

There are lots of healthy family meal ideas to satisfy every appetite—including baby’s!

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal topped with diced fresh fruit
  • Scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast
  • Whole-wheat pancakes and fresh fruit

Lunch:

  • Black bean and cheese quesadilla
  • Low-sodium deli turkey sandwich with side of mixed veggies. Roll baby’s bread flat to make it easier to eat.
  • Pasta salad with soft veggies

Dinner:

  • Pulled chicken or pork, baked sweet potatoes and brown rice
  • Whole-wheat rotini with spaghetti sauce and ground meat
  • Soft tacos with ground meat (serve meat, tortilla, cheese and veggies separately to baby)

Snack

  • Whole-milk yogurt with soft, diced fruit
  • Hard-boiled egg with diced fruit
  • Hummus with steamed veggies
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers