What to Feed Baby, and When

6-9 Months

If you never thought lumpy food was exciting you may begin looking at it in a whole new light right about now. By 6 months baby is likely ready to start tackling food with a little more texture and variety than he's been interested in so far. If you haven't already, you can introduce fruits and vegetables in addition to baby's cereal. During this period you'll probably switch to Stage 2 or Stage 3 baby food, which offers combinations of food — think apples and bananas or mixed green vegetables — and chunkier consistency. Toward the end of this period you might want to introduce meat and poultry, although Collins recommends waiting until baby is 9 months old for that.

Helpful hint: For the best luck in getting baby to eat, try feeding him an hour or so after he has had a bottle or breastfed, says Unger. If you try to feed him while he's hungry, his slow eating pace might frustrate him and you'll likely have a meltdown on your hands. Collins, on the other hand, recommends feeding solid food first and then topping it off with breastfeeding or formula.

By 8 or 9 months old your baby may want to try to feed himself, which means you'll want to offer up some finger foods — mashed up fruit, small pieces of carrot, large curd cottage cheese and small pieces of cheese. Be sure to avoid choking hazards, like grapes or carrots or hot dogs cut into medallions (the short way). Instead, cut them into small strips. How much your baby can handle depends on how many teeth he has, so let him be the judge.

Helpful hint: Try mixing yogurt with cereal and rolling it into balls so that so baby can pick them up and eat them. This will help get more iron-enriched cereal into baby's diet. If you can, buy full-fat yogurt (Yo-Baby is one product on the market) instead of regular or low-fat yogurt.

Although cow's milk isn't recommended until baby is 1 year old, Unger says it's OK for baby to eat small quantities of dairy, such as yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese after he is 6 months old. Now is a good time to introduce teething biscuits too, although you should only allow baby to chew on them when he's sitting upright and you're supervising him.

At this point, baby should be eating three full meals each day and most of his nutrition should come from solid food rather than liquids. Although you want to aim for a balanced diet, don't be surprised if your baby has other ideas. "Babies will tell you what they like and don't like over a period of time," says Collins. "Sometimes I see babies that have an orange hue to them because they like carrots and squash so much." If your baby spits out everything green, keep trying, but don't despair. "Don't make them eat what they don't like," says Collins.