From 9 – 12 months of age, babies start to learn how to gradually handle and chew finely minced foods, whilst beginning to experiment with self-feeding using a spoon. During this time, a variety of minced and chopped fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry and pulses alongside breast milk or formula will keep your baby’s diet nutritionally balanced.
Keep introducing new foods alongside familiar and accepted ones, but offer these in a coarser texture, more roughly mashed or in finely minced form. For example, you can offer small amounts of a fork mashed cooked fish fillet or mashed well cooked hard boiled egg, mince up raisins or corn before adding to foods or serve soft sticky brown rice instead of a rice porridge. For your baby’s safety, eggs should be thoroughly cooked until both the white and yolk are solid.
Continue to offer your baby a variety of soft and harder finger foods. Harder finger foods include ‘O’ shaped or Chex® cereal (comes made of corn, rice or wheat), small cubes of cheese, lightly toasted bread or bagel, breadsticks, small thin pieces of pitta bread/naan/chappati/soft corn tortillas, French toast or eggy bread soldiers, cooked black beans, kidney, garbanzo, teething crackers, cooked (but not overcooked) pasta, rice cakes for baby to gum on, thin slices of pear or melon, pea sized pieces of cooked chicken or fish, broccoli spears. To prevent choking, it is important to cut all food into small pieces and remove any skin and bones from fish or meat (e.g., sausage skins). Cook vegetables like carrots and slice these lengthwise, and slice grapes and cherry tomatoes into quarters before serving to your baby. It is best not to offer sweet biscuits and rusks so your baby will not get into the habit of wanting sweet snacks.
It is important to remember though, that since every baby is different, progress at your own baby’s pace in offering foods of increasing textures. Depending on the amount of breastfeeding or bottle feeds baby is still receiving, offering 3 solids meals a day may be enough, or you may find you need to increase the eating times to a more structured 3 meals 2-3 snacks pattern. Continue to offer small amounts of liquids in an open cup at meals, to help baby learn to take sips. Gradually, as baby’s teeth come in, and baby develops a greater ability to mash/chew up foods in the mouth before swallowing, you can slowly progress onto chopped family foods!