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Feature Articles: Children


Feeding Your Older Baby 

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist in Barton County
University of Missouri Extension


It is amazing to think of the changes in the eating habits of your infant from the day of birth until their first birthday. They progress from drinking only milk to feeding themselves with a spoon. From six months to one year is the time of rapid change in eating skills. Here are some tips to help you help your child make all of these changes successfully.

After your baby has taken several types of cereal with success, it is time to add vegetables and fruits. Some people say to add fruits first and some say to add vegetables first. My recommendation is to add vegetables first. We are born with an affinity to sweet tastes. If you offer fruits first your baby will get used to that sweet taste and then it’s harder to get them to eat vegetables. The compromise is that you can offer some of the sweeter vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes first. Just make sure that you continue to offer only one new thing at a time and wait a few days for any allergic reaction. When introducing fruits, make sure that they are a single fruit rather than a fruit medley. If there is an allergic reaction you wouldn’t know which one caused the problem. Fruit desserts have added sugar that the baby really doesn’t need.

Fruit juice is usually added to the infant’s diet at six or seven months of age. It is recommended that the baby take juice from a cup. The only thing that should ever be in a bottle is mother’s milk or infant formula. Good first juices to offer are apple juice and white grape juice. Wait until after the baby’s first birthday to offer the more acidic juices such as orange juice. Two to four ounces of juice a day is plenty. Too much juice can cause diarrhea.

Ground or strained protein foods such as chicken, turkey and beef can be started around eight months of age. Most babies this age are using grinding motions with their teeth and can actually chew soft meats. This is the same age that infants start feeding themselves finger foods such as crackers, cereal and toast.

There are several things that are not recommended in the first year. Foods that are more likely to cause an allergic reaction include egg whites, peanuts or peanut butter, soy, fish and shellfish, and whole or low fat milk. Foods to avoid that are a choking hazard include round things such as grapes, hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts. Honey should not be offered until after the baby turns one year old. On rare occasions, infants have developed botulism from minor amounts of bacterium in the honey. Older children and adults have enzymes to fight that bacterium but infants do not.

Feed your baby when the rest of the family is eating. This helps to establish an eating routine. Be patient with your infant as he is starting to feed himself. It is normal for them to spill or make a mess while they are learning to eat. Try to appreciate the child’s developing skills. One day you will look back and cherish the memory of the spaghetti stained face and hands.



Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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