As an infant reaches the final three months of his first year he will pass many developmental milestones. These include increased mobility, improved coordination and a long list of foods he can not only eat, but also enjoy. In fact, by your baby's first birthday, half of what he eats will be solid food. Breast milk or formula are still his primary source of nutrition but he may require more solid foods to stay satisfied longer. Remember to offer your baby a new food in a small quantity and wait three to four days before offering another new food. This allows time for parents to monitor their child for food allergies or sensitivities.
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Foods fed to a baby by spoon should continue to be strained or pureed unless she has been eating this type of food since she was 6 months of age. Gradually increase the thickness by decreasing the liquid added to the food, mashing with a fork for a coarser texture, or by purchasing stage two or stage three commercial baby foods. You can spoon-feed your baby cottage cheese; barley, oat and rice cereals; asparagus; peas; green beans; and pasteurized mild fruit juices like peach and pear. A child with a known lactose sensitivity or family prevalence of lactose intolerance may be advised by the pediatrician to wait until her first birthday for any dairy products. Dilute juices with equal parts water and juice to keep your baby from developing a taste for sweet liquids instead of plain water.
If you started introducing pureed or strained foods to your baby at 6 months, he may be interested in other textures at 9 months. Offering finger foods is possible at this age but continue to ensure it is easy for your infant to mash in his mouth. You can dice bits of tofu or offer hard cooked egg yolk, well-cooked carrots, summer squash, or white potatoes, and ripened fruits like peaches and bananas. Tofu and eggs may need to be approved by your pediatrician as they are high up on the allergenic list. Other finger foods include toasted bread cubes, crackers, oat circle cereals, cheese cubes, cooked pasta, and rice. Any foods that your baby has already been eating may be diced for your baby to feed to himself.
Things to Avoid
Avoid any food that must be chewed before swallowed. Bite-sized food is more likely to be a choking hazard and requires close parental supervision. Peas are not a safe choice for finger foods at this time as they are small enough to be inhaled into the windpipe. Do not feed your baby hot dogs, hard candy, grapes, cookies, meat chunks, raw carrots, apple chunks and popcorn. Citrus fruits may still be too harsh on your baby's stomach.