Meal Tips + Ideas: 9-12 Months

One of the hardest parts of solids for me wasn’t the beginning…. that was easy! Because breastmilk was his #1 source of nutrition, I didn’t feel bad if he didn’t get much solids or if I even skipped them altogether one day. I knew he was fine getting just breastmilk.

Now, as a toddler, I have a kid who can eat almost anything and gets a wide variety of nutrients. No more milk to worry about. Just water and whatever it is that we are eating. Piece of cake.

But for me, the hardest part was the in between. When they aren’t old enough to totally ditch the breastmilk or formula…. but you really need to get them started learning to chew and getting more textures/tastes/nutrients in their little bodies.

Well mamas, it took lots of trial and error…. but here are some of my best tried and true tips for feeding your baby in that awkward stage of solids.

Tip #1: Once baby is enjoying & regularly eating solids, you CAN begin to cut down on bottle feedings!

It will always depend on the baby. Some 9 month old aren’t really into their solids and want that milk just as much as ever. Some 6 month olds are ready to be big and want to eat everything mom and dad are eating. It’s really up to your discretion as a parent. It is highly recommended that your babe’s nutrition is more formula than food until they are 1 year old at which point you can wean them off. I know some mothers who did the same amount of formula at 1 year that they were doing at 6 months, then immediately drop it on their 1st birthday. I went towards a more gradual approach of weaning him over the course of a year. At 8 months I started dropping a bottle per day every month or so and kept going until he was 15 months and he drank his last bottle of milk (at that point we were doing a bottle of cow’s milk at naptime and bedtime). Now, at 18 months, he only drinks water out of a sippy cup and 100% solid foods. It wasn’t a quick process, but I think it’s best for kids to do things gradually.

Tip #2: Aim for solids 3-5 times a day.

Now that your little one is used to eating solid foods, as well as milk, try to slowly graduate to feeding solids at “regular” meal times and milk at sleepier time (first thing in the morning, nap-times, & bedtime). You may already be on that schedule and if so, great! This is important in helping your babe’s body adjust to a more adult schedule of eating and digestion. You don’t want him eating his supper at 4:30 for the rest of his toddlerhood!

Tip #3: Let your little one feed himself.

You may have heard of baby-led weaning. Personally, I’m not a fan. I don’t enjoy the mess and I’m terrified of choking. I know all the reasons it’s fabulous for kids, but you can argue with me all day on this one. I’m gonna spoon-feed my baby purees. Okay? Okay. Around 9-10 months, I did start letting him finger-feed select items. I still spoon fed purees, applesauces, soups, etc. But anything that wasn’t extremely messy and he could get his little fingers around I put on his tray for him to explore. This is so important in teaching feeding skills.

Tip #4: It’s okay to offer water with snacks.

I’ve heard both sides of this, but I personally wanted to get my little one started early with a love for water. As long as you don’t give large amounts of water all at once (their little digestive systems are not prepared to drink that much water at once and it can really make them sick.) All I did was added 1-2 oz. of water in the bottom of a bottle and gave him little sips in between bites. As he got bigger, I would just set the bottle on his tray and he drank when he was thirsty. I now have a 2 year old who chugs water like his life depends on it, so I would like to think that this worked for us.

Tip #5: What you feed baby depends on how many teeth they have.

My son had every single one of his teeth by his 1st birthday. This means he was eating tougher meats, crunchy vegetables and fruits, and more. He was an extremely efficient chewer and ready to eat like an adult. However, I know that isn’t always the case. If your babe just doesn’t seem to have any teeth on the horizon, you may need to extend the purees and baby cereals. This isn’t a problem at all, just make sure that they are getting a few chewable items (such as crackers or bananas) that they can work with their gums to practice chewing.

Tip #6: Introduce a sippy cup.

At first, I introduced all drinks in the same bottle he drank everything from. Formula, cow’s milk, juice and water were all in the same bottle. I think this made him less hesitant to try new things. But the health department and doctor kept pushing me to introduce a sippy cup, which I didn’t do until after his first birthday. I think it was just easier for me to keep using the bottle. I really wish I would have introduced a cup sooner because it was a STRU-GGLE to get him off of the bottle.

It took a LOT of purchases to find the perfect cup. I tried several that were really soft and had a nipple, but he hated them. I winded up passing through the water bottle section at Walmart and he got REALLY excited about these Contigo water bottles. I told him to pick out his favorite and…. MAGIC! He loved it and has ever since! He now has three of these bottles and with some ice and cold water he will sip on them all day.

Once I had gotten him settled on water bottles and hid his baby bottles for good, he will drink out of any cup, regular or sippy, and doesn’t complain. I like to use the Munchkin 360 cups as well.

Tip #7: Juice isn’t the devil.

My pediatrician (who is in his 70’s) pushed the juice when my son started eating solids. He said it is a “great” source of nutrition. And while I can’t really get behind him on that perspective, my natural mom’s groups on facebook were saying that you should never ever EVER give your child juice or it will basically kill them. I have chosen to take an in between stance.

My son drinks water all day long. He doesn’t like milk anymore, which is strange. One day he just began refusing it (he makes up for it with all the cheese he devours). But he does ask for juice… and honestly? I would rather he drink juice than soda. When I do have soda, I tell him it is juice and get him some apple juice so he is happy. This isn’t always a daily occurrence. Sometimes he has juice twice a month… sometimes it’s every day in a week.

I don’t believe I’m a bad mother for letting him have juice. Life is about balance. I would highly suggest limiting it for your child though. We get 64 ounces of juice from WIC a month, which is about 2 ounces a day. We never buy more than this, so I am comfortable with his juice intake. Decide this for yourself, but I would highly encourage you to make sure your child loves water!

Tip #8: Honey is the ONLY food you cannot feed until 1st birthday!

There has been much debate over the years over when and what to feed a baby. Basically, the only two rules that have been concluded on are:

  1. Solids before 4 months is absolutely a big, fat NO…. and
  2. NO honey before 1st birthday

There has been debate over what and when to feed them first, if baby cereal is okay, whether or not to feed them allergens, if cow’s milk is safe, whether or not they can have sips of water before they wean…. the list goes on and on and ON.

But mom to mom…. just do what your gut tells you. If you follow those two rules, do whatever you please and be careful. 🙂

Tip #9: Allow 2-3 days in between new foods to check for allergies.

New research shows that it’s best to let your baby have lots of new foods as soon as you can. No longer is it advised to keep eggs, dairy, peanuts or other allergens away from your 6-12 month old. It’s actually been suggested that introducing them earlier, even during your pregnancy (the baby gets tastes through the amniotic fluid) can actually help them avoid food allergies! Just be sure that EVERY time you introduce a new food, write down what you gave and when, and wait 2-3 days to watch for symptoms of allergy. If nothing happens, feel free to move on to the next food!

Tip #10: Remember, this is the time that you shape your child’s food preferences forever.

Yes, people can change. But for the most part, what you feed your kid now will affect them forever. I already regret some of my decisions with my toddler because he REALLY likes sugar and carbs. I know that is my fault because I don’t eat enough veggies. Thankfully, he eats far more than I do because I have fed them to him from the beginning.

I think it’s probably safe to assume that kids will get plenty of tastes of sugar, bread and fruit no matter what your family diet is like. That’s just the way we live in America and they are bound to be fed those things at some point and love them.

But protein, vegetables and water are extremely important to our health and not all babies like them from the beginning. Dairy products (in moderation), water, eggs, nut butters, some meats and lots of veggies should be introduced as soon as they are eating solids! Introduce them in pureed or mushed form one at at time to check for allergies.

As for getting your child to fall in love with water, introduce it young. If your baby spits out plain water, my favorite tip is to dilute juice as much as you can to get them to drink it. Some moms would say this isn’t a good idea, but the truth is that you cannot have a child who only drinks milk. They are going to be SUPER stopped up and suffer from countless other problems (that is if it is cow’s milk…. breastmilk is perfectly fine).

Most mothers will do pretty much anything to get veggies into their kids…. to the point of baking them into sweet treats. I would venture to say that water is far more important than vegetables for our health. Sometimes we have to put forth some effort to get nutrients into our babes. Don’t let yourself feel like a bad mom for doing what you have to do. 🙂

Meal Ideas: 9-12 Months

Protein 

  • Yogurt
  • Peanut Butter Smoothie (mix 1 TBS of peanut butter with 2 TBS milk for a smooth mixture that will be easy for baby to eat… you can also add banana into this for more texture)
  • Mashed Potatoes (regular or sweet)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Refried Beans (my baby liked these with some salsa, greek yogurt and shredded cheese)
  • Scrambled Eggs (you can also add some shredded cheese and/or salsa!)
  • Macaroni + Cheese (or other cooked pasta)
  • Ground Beef (my son LOVED taco filling! I would put the seasoned beef in a bowl with sour cream, cheese, and a dash of salsa. This is still one of his favorite meals.)
  • Shredded Chicken
  • Cheese (chunked very small or shredded)
  • Chili (or other thick soups)
  • Casseroles

Veggies & Fruits

Feel free to continue giving your little one pureed veggies and fruits (any kind is fine…just remember to add new ones slowly to check for allergies). You can also begin giving chunked veggies and fruits. Make sure they are cut very small. Green beans, sliced berries, tomatoes, peaches, olives, raisins or other dried fruits, bananas, and peas are great options for finger feeding. Fruit pouches are also a great option once they are old enough to squeeze it!

Cereal

At 9 months I was still giving my son baby cereal mixed with applesauce or pureed fruit for breakfast. By 12 months he was eating chunked fruit and homemade granola for breakfast. It’s up to you when you change that up, but teeth help with that equation.

Grains

Any sort of soft bread, cracker, or tortilla should be safe to give your baby. Bagels are great if your babe has teeth, but watch closely for choking.

Sample Feeding Schedules: 9-12 Months

8-9 months

  • 20-32 oz formula/breastmilk daily (6-8 oz every feeding)
  • 3-4 bottle feedings / nursing sessions daily
  • 3 solid meals daily
  • Introduce finger foods w/ meals

6:30 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

8:00 – Cereal + Fruit + Finger Foods + 2 oz water in bottle

10:00 – Nap

12:30 – Protein + Veggie/Fruit + Finger Foods + 2 oz water in bottle

2:30 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

3:00 – Nap

5:00 – Protein + Veggie/Fruit + Finger Foods + 2 oz water in bottle

6:30 – Bathe

7:00 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

7:30 – Bedtime

10-11 months

  • 18-28 oz formula/breastmilk daily (6-8 oz every feeding)
  • 3-4 bottle feedings / nursing sessions daily
  • 3-4 solid meals daily
  • Introduce sippy cups w/ meals

7:30 – 6-8 oz. bottle / nurse

8:00 – Cereal + Fruit + 2 oz water in sippy cup

10:00 – Nap

12:30 – Protein + Veggie/Fruit + 2 oz water in sippy cup

2:30 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

3:00 – Nap

4:30 – Snack (finger foods) + 2 oz water in sippy cup

6:00 – Meat + Veggie + 2 oz water in sippy cup

6:30 – Bathe

7:00 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

7:30 – Bedtime

12-13 months

  • 1-3 bottle feedings / nursing sessions daily (6-8 oz every feeding)
  • 12-16 oz formula / breastmilk daily
  • 4-5 solid meals daily

8:00 – Cereal + Fruit + 3 oz milk

10:30 – Nap

12:30 – Protein + Veggie/Fruit + 3 oz water

2:00 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

2:30 – Nap

4:00 – Snack (finger foods) + 3 oz water

6:00 – Meat + Veggie + 2-3 oz water

6:30 – Bathe

7:00 – 6-8 oz bottle / Nurse

7:30 – Bedtime

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