At nine months of age, your baby is gaining more experience with solid foods, which means it’s about time to begin introducing “finger foods” — little diced bites of soft food — that your baby can attempt to pick up and eat.
If you haven’t already, it might be time to incorporate some soft, dissolvable foods in your baby’s diet. Examples could include soft fruit, teething biscuits, or “puffs” — dissolvable crackers made especially for babies. Your baby may love to play with these foods as much as eat them. Learning to manipulate them is an excellent way to bridge the gap from pureed foods to solid ones.
Some cultures skip pureed foods entirely with “baby-led weaning.” Here, babies drink breast milk until 6 months of age, then begin finger foods right away. This involves introducing soft, easy-to-eat foods that your baby could grasp and eat. Examples of these foods include:
- Banana and other ripe, soft fruit
- Eggs (well-cooked)
You can provide these or other similar foods to your little one at a mealtime and allow them to explore. This may involve playing with food as much as eating it, but that’s OK. As an added benefit, baby-led weaning helps by allowing your baby to stop eating when he or she is no longer hungry because they are in control of how much goes into their mouth.
The alternative to baby-led weaning, or independent feeding, is spoon-feeding your child new foods. You can do both or either. Some parents like to see what their babies respond best to when it comes to eating.
Introducing new foods
You may have heard or read the rule of introducing a new food type every 3-5 days. The belief behind this was that starting new foods slowly could reduce the likelihood your baby could experience a food allergy related to introducing new foods. However, several new studies have found doing this doesn’t have this effect on babies who seem to be eating new foods well. Introducing new foods faster, every 1-3 days can help to expand your child’s diet.
Troubleshooting baby’s diet
While you may love new foods, your baby is probably much more picky. If you’re having difficulties getting your new one to embrace varied food options, here are some things to try.
- Try, try again. Just because your baby rejected a certain food or texture once doesn’t mean he or she won’t eat it again. You should try again a different day.
- Consider seasonings. While you shouldn’t use salt in your baby’s food, you can expand his or her palate with herbs and spices, like garlic, onion, cinnamon, vanilla, and pumpkin pie extract.
- Know your baby will eat enough. As a parent, it’s natural to be concerned your baby is eating too much or not enough. However, if you let your baby’s appetite lead the way, she should be just fine. Babies are smart. They eat when hungry and stop when satisfied. Avoid overfeeding by paying attention to the signs your little one is full (i.e. more food is going on the floor than in their mouth).
- Be a good role model. Babies are influenced by parental eating habits, which means if you are eating a certain food, they may be more willing to try it. Eating and enjoying a variety of foods alongside your baby can help your child be more willing to try new things.