It can be a messy business, but allow your baby to feed themselves finger foods as much as possible - they love to explore the different types and textures of food. It also serves as a learning experience during a critical period of development as babies learn to pinch, grab, reach for food and bring it to their mouths to eat. Include your baby at the table during family meal time, they will become interested in food as they see others eating and they will learn by copying you!
You can begin to offer milk after 9 months of age. It is high in protein, calcium and vitamins (especially Vitamin D). Choose varieties that are higher in fat; this may include cheese or yogurt as well as cottage cheese. You can start offering whole milk at this time but place it in a cup for meal times only. Your baby still needs to breastfeed or have formula up to one year of age. Use whole milk until your baby is 2 years of age, they need the extra fat whole milk provides for brain development.
By 12 months of age, your child should be eating the same types of food that you are eating at each meal, as long as the foods don't contain too much sugar or salt.
The best way to avoid choking is to avoid at risk foods. Always give food to your baby when they are sitting down. No eating on the move or lying down. Always stay with your child when they are eating in case they do choke.
Tips for Minimizing Risk
- Grate raw carrots and hard fruits such as apples
- Remove the pits from fruits
- Chop grapes
- Thinly spread peanut butter on crackers or toast
- Finely chop foods with fibrous or stringy textures such as celery or pineapple
High Risk Foods to Avoid
- Nuts, seeds
- Whole grapes or small round foods
- Whole rounds of wieners or sausages
- Raw vegetables
- Small candies or gum
- Raisins and other small dried fruit
- Crunchy peanut butter, peanut butter served on a spoon or too thickly spread on food
It is not possible to prevent all choking incidents, you can however minimize risk and be prepared. It is recommended that all parents and caregivers get training in choking first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your local public health unit is a an excellent resource that can provide further information on infant feeding and connect you with a local first aid and CPR course.
Unless directed by your doctor, it is not recommended that you delay introducing foods for fear of an allergy. All common allergens such as peanut, fish, wheat, egg, milk and soy can be introduced from 6 months of age. When introducing common allergens start with single foods to make it easier to identify if your baby has allergies. Give the new food and wait two days before you try another. Signs of an allergy can occur quickly or up to hours after the food is eaten. Once a potential food allergen is introduced, it is important to continue to offer the food regularly to maintain the child's tolerance.
The most common signs of allergy are:
- Breathing difficulties
Stop feeding the food if you think that it may have caused any of these reactions and consult your doctor.
A joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants 0-6 months
A joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants 6-24 months
Ontario Dietitians in Public Health. Pediatric Nutrition Guidelines (Birth to Six Years) for Health Professionals.