From first foods to first steps, your baby’s first 12 months are full of exciting milestones – including starting to bite and chew their way through family meal times!
Weaning stage 3
The third stage of weaning is a time for exploration and independence. By their first birthday your baby will be ready to eat a wide variety of family foods and beginning to feed themselves – a sometimes messy process as most babies are quite happy to play and squish their food as they learn about the different tastes, smells and textures.
Learning to feed themselves in an important step in your baby’s development. So, try to avoid always spooning feeding your baby – instead allow them the opportunity to practice using the spoon to feed themselves (custard or yoghurt are good foods for them to start on). You can encourage your baby to bite and chew by offering them ‘finger foods’ such as toast fingers, chopped banana, cooked vegetables or sticks of cheese – but remember to always watch them while they’re eating in case they start to choke.
Stage 3: Daily feeding routine
By 10 months most babies will be eating 3 meals a day along with their breastfeeds or infant formula. As your baby gets older you may want to start adding 1 to 2 snacks a day too – the amount of food being guided by your baby’s appetite.
Breast milk or infant formula remains an important source of nutrients during your baby’s first year – small amounts of cow’s milk can be used in baby’s food preparation but babies under 12 months should not drink cow’s milk as their main drink.
Stage 3: Ideal weaning foods
Offering your baby a wide variety of foods – with varying tastes and textures – from all the different food groups is important so they can get the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly. Exposure to lots of different healthy foods at this age also may help set the pattern for a healthy diet later on.
Iron deficiency can be a problem during weaning and iron-rich foods should be included in your baby’s meals and snacks to help prevent levels becoming too low. Iron-enriched breakfast cereals and meat (or iron-rich alternatives) are both good sources of iron.
Stage 3: Foods to avoid
While there’s a whole range of foods that are great to give to your baby, there are a few that should be avoided.
- Cow’s milk to your baby as their main drink until they are at least 12 months old – but small amounts can be added to foods such as on cereals or when making custard
- Honey to babies until they are at least 12 months old – honey can sometimes contain bacteria that makes babies sick
- Raw eggs and foods that contain raw eggs – such as home-made ice-cream, as there is an increased risk of food poisoning
- Foods that contain high levels of fat, salt or sugar – such as cakes and biscuits as they tend not to contain many of the essential nutrients baby needs
- Unpasteurised milk of all types, infant tea, coffee or sugar-sweetened drinks such as cordials or soft drinks. Fruit juice is not recommended for babies under 12 months
- Any foods that could cause your baby to choke – such as whole nuts, raw carrot or celery sticks.
By eating together at family meals your baby may become more interested in the foods you’re eating and be able to watch and learn from what you do. But remember every baby will have their own unique tastes and appetites!