For the first year of a baby's life, baby formula or breast milk should be the mainstay of her diet. Once your baby is six months old, she is ready for pureed baby foods. When she can sit up unassisted, crawl, and use her thumb and index finger to pick up small items, she is ready to begin eating small bits of table foods. It is important to give your baby healthy foods that are soft and small enough for her to eat safely on her own.
Babies often eagerly pick up and eat soft, sweet fruits. Try chunks of bananas, soft melon and very ripe or canned peaches. Firmer fruits, such as apples and pears, can be steamed or microwaved and cooled to room temperature. Avoid stringy fruits, such as pineapple; those that may cause choking, such as cherries and grapes; and strawberries, which are a common allergen. If you choose to use canned fruit, pick the varieties canned in fruit juice, as opposed to those preserved in light or heavy syrups.
Most vegetables can be steamed until soft and then given to babies. Carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli florets are good choices. Never give babies or toddlers raw carrots or other hard, round vegetables that may cause choking. While canned vegetables are often soft enough for babies to eat, avoid those with added sodium, advises Kids Health. Many major brands offer a low-salt or no-added-salt version.
Proteins and Dairy Products
Babies with only a few teeth can usually handle only very soft meats and fish, shredded into very small pieces. Chicken breast or thigh, white fish and ground beef are good options. Choose those that are not marinated in salty or sugary solutions whenever possible. Avoid shellfish, as some children are allergic. Your baby may enjoy a mashed or crumbled egg yolk, but do not give babies under a year egg whites, which are allergenic.
Give your baby small chunks of cheddar or American cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt. If your baby can not ingest dairy products, consider soy yogurt. Avoid hard cheeses, and do not give your baby cow's milk until he is a year old, unless your pediatrician advises otherwise.
Most babies are able to eat O-shaped cereal, such as Cheerios. Avoid honey-nut versions, however, because babies under a year old should not eat products honey to avoid a rare but serious case of botulism. Crackers, whole grain seedless bread, rice and pasta are also popular foods to feed older babies. Try giving your teething baby a frozen bagel, but watch carefully that she does not bite off a piece big enough to choke on.
Avoid giving your baby cookies and cakes. These may fill your little one up with empty calories, causing her to eat less healthy food during the next meal or snacktime. Do not give your baby popcorn or chips either, as these constitute a choking hazard, suggests University of Iowa Health Care.