What to Feed Baby, and When

9-12 Months

Pureéd table food and cereal are appropriate for children ages 9-12 months.
Pureéd table food and cereal are appropriate for children ages 9-12 months.

Months 9 through 12 are much like months 6 through 9: You'll want to aim for three meals a day and continue to encourage the use of a cup and self-feeding. Unger suggests offering cereal twice a day, in addition to table food (cut small or puréed) and baby food. When baby is 1 year old, you can start to introduce whole cow's milk. Reduced-fat products like skim milk are not recommended until baby is 2 years old.

Although you've probably been keeping an eye on healthful eating until this point, now is a good time to really make an effort to instill healthy eating habits in baby. If you can avoid introducing sweets, you'll have a better chance of getting baby to avoid them later in life. Avoiding salt and highly processed foods is also a good idea, naturally.

What not to feed baby

What not to feed baby

There are a few items you'll want to avoid until baby is 1 year old, primarily because early introduction has been linked to food allergies. Foods to steer clear of until baby's first birthday: eggs, peanuts, shellfish and cow's milk. In fact, Unger doesn't recommend introducing eggs until 15 months and suggests shunning shellfish until baby is at least 2 years old. You'll also want to avoid giving baby honey for his first year of life since it may contain botulism, which adults can tolerate but young babies cannot.

Collins and Unger also both recommend avoiding juice in baby's first year of life. Baby is better off with water, milk or formula.

One last no-no: chocolate, says Collins. "Kids don't need chocolate in their life, even though you and I may think it's an essential food group," he jokes.

For more information about feeding a baby and other baby care tips, see the links below.

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