8-12 months



8-12 months is really the homestretch of the introduction of solids (diversification, as the French call it). Baby is starting to eat more and more like us (or in our case, we started eating more and more like him!)

(Usual caveat: I am not a nutritionist  just sharing how I went about things with my son, so do check with your pediatrician and obviously take into account any allergies in your family.)

1. New stuff

Between 8 and 10 months, I continued with the vegetable and vegetable & protein purees, trying any new vegetable I could find and think of. In addition, I started introducing (one at a time of course):

Yogurt. I cannot emphasize enough to stick with plain yogurt for as long as possible. Yo Baby does have plain (though it can unfortunately be hard to find.). Otherwise, homemade yogurt made from organic whole milk with added DHA, will do the trick. My yogurt maker was the best 40$ I ever spent. Alternatively, organic plain whole milk yogurt works fine, provided baby doesn't have any intolerance to cow's milk. If it's a bit tough to digest at first, try sheep's or goat's milk yogurt, easier on the stomach. Bellwether Farms has a wonderful sheep's milk yogurt I get all the time, creamy and great to replace cream in soups or dressings. At first I gave it just plain, remembering that for as much as babies may like strong-tasting things, they also can appreciate very subtle flavors.
I think I waited until about 10 months to introduce fruit yogurt, and never at night. For plain or fruit, I gave a few spoons at first, and let him decide on how much he wanted.

I started giving a bit of yogurt as dessert at the end of lunch. Then at the end of dinner. And started giving plain Greek yogurt, higher in protein, for breakfast, along with a cereal (oatmeal usually, or ancient grains) and fresh fruit.

Cheese. Could be considered the cornerstone of French foods. We certainly enjoy it a lot in our family. It really is a perfect finger food when they start practicing the pincer grasp around 8-9 months, easy to gum down. I started with medium soft cheeses like Petit Basque (sheep), Goat Gouda, Gruyère, Babybel. I tried to steer away from string cheese which is quite tasteless, and go with flavorful cheeses. I offered them after the main course, in keeping with French tradition.

Organic Bread (more around 10 months), in very small quantities, multigrain/multicereal, for breakfast.

Pasta, also in limited quantities, no more than twice a week. I got organic vegetable noodles, which made easy finger foods.

Rice, quinoa, couscous (10 months +), in limited quantities also either as a side, warm (with just a bit of butter), or mixed in a salad with some vinaigrette.
A note on these: I really steered away from mixing these (as well as the pasta) with the vegetable purees. The French will eat them often just plain, without drenching them in sauce. I'm a big believer of enjoying each food (and for that it must be good quality), on its own. A bowl of plain rice or quinoa (or pasta for that matter) is delicious on its own with a dab of butter, and doesn't need to be drowned in something else. It was also about getting Pablo to know what he's eating (not some mushy mix), to experience different textures. So I might serve it to him next to a baby puree, so he can differentiate flavors and textures. Enjoy each food for what it is.

Legumes - beans, lentils. Beans (all kinds) make a really great finger food for pincer grasp practice. We particularly like cannelloni beans and black beans. Introduced lentils around 10 months (warm or cold with vinaigrette). Also separate for vegetable purees (see note above)

Egg yolk. On its own as protein, along with a vegetable puree. I started egg white inside cooked preparations around 10-11 months. It actually turns out Pablo has a mild allergy to egg white, it gives him hives, unless it's very well cooked, like in a custard. I keep giving him egg yolk probably about once a week.

Raw tomato. This is somewhat debated, and it really depends on your child. I started giving raw tomato to Pablo around 9 months, peeling it (plunging it in boiling water for 5 seconds helps a lot). He digested it fine and loved it, so I continued. Some say it's too acidic for baby, so it's a matter of trying and watching for any reaction.

Raw fruit - Around 10 months, I started introducing raw raspberry for breakfast, then blueberries (Though he spit out the skin for a while... Peeling blueberries, O what fun!), then strawberries. After that, I offered almost all fruits raw, peeled if needed, except for apples (hard to chew). Watermelon, peach/nectarine, apricot (took a few tries, because of texture), cherries, cantaloupe, etc. Citrus I introduced in the form of fresh orange or grapefruit juice (a few sips, from a cup, good way to help them learn to drink out of a cup), between 10-12 months. I would let him suck on a lemon wedge too, he enjoyed that (being careful about seeds).
[I continued with the steamed fruit compotes for snack time as well.]

2. Our meals

So with all that in mind and all these doors open, the 4 course family meal as I've described here, starts to take shape around 8-10 months:

First course - A vegetable appetizer that works also a finger food and an opportunity for baby to self-feed: Cut up tomato, beans, small vegetable noodles, cooked cauliflower, cooked green beans, cooked zucchini, cooked asparagus tips, cooked potato or yam, cooked beets are some examples. Vegetables that are easy to gum down for baby, and which he can practice grabbing with his hands / fingers. (I waited until he got that down to introduce crunchier and/or raw vegetables, probably more around 10-12 months, such as cucumber, hearts of palm, cooked broccoli, endives, olives, pickles...)

Main course - Protein puree, or protein + vegetable puree as outlined in here. Around 9 months, I started offering easy to gum down proteins such as canned sardines, lean ham, or even lean hamburger patty (in very small quantities (0.5-1 oz), along with a vegetable only puree.

The fact that he could eat the finger foods himself enabled me to spoon-feed him most of his puree, while letting him play with his spoon and participate if he wanted to.
While doing that, I paid close attention to feeding him slowly and to see whether he was getting full and following those cues carefully (if he turned his head or rejected, I stopped).

Cheese course, a few small pieces offered, as finger goods.
The lettuce salad we usually have after the meal, I offered a taste closer to 12 months as it's hard to chew/gum down (if it's too thin). Around 12 months, I started offering him a taste of crunchy types of salad to taste (endives, romaine, with vinaigrette). At first he would chew and spit out (a texture thing, I think). After a few months, he started to actually eat the whole thing.

Yogurt for dessert, a few spoonfuls offered. (Plain for dinner, with fruit at lunch)


3. Other notes

All meats must still be pureed at 8 months (though depending on baby's teeth and ability to gum food down, you can start mixing it a bit less finely), but I found the introduction of finger foods really helped getting him used to chunkier textures. Watch your child for his ability to gum down and chew food and give accordingly. I know, for example, I waited until about 11 months to give Pablo cucumber, until I was sure he could chew it properly.  It's key to evaluate how baby handles different textures, if he tends to choke on certain things, or spit them out.

Quantities offered: finger food appetizer (small handful) + 2-3 oz purees + finger food cheese + a few spoons of yogurt. This can really vary from child to child, from day to day, from meal to meal. I followed Pablo's cues as much as possible. I kept the protein quantity to a max of 0.5 to 1 oz per meal.

What I did NOT give before 12 months: Honey, shellfish or raw fish, unground meats (too hard to chew), chocolate or candy (introduced chocolate around 15 mo), whole nuts (choking hazard until 18 mo at least, check with your ped on those - I did however introduce almond butter, and my pediatrician said it was ok to introduce any nut butter - including peanut - around 10 months. We're not big peanut butter eaters though)

4. Recipes:

For the purees, I continued with all the purees I was making from 4-6 months and 6-8 months.

Also, check the recipe by age index here for recipes on the blog. So many horizons open up at that age... 
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20 comments:

  1. Ok so i just stumbled upon your blog and absolutely agree with how Europeans feed themselves as well as their kids! And your blog has been a complete God send! But I have a question: do the meal times include breastfeeding/formula as well? For example Lunch: 8oz formula, quinoa veggie stir fry with strawberries. or do you have separate times you nurse or bottle feed him?

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    1. Hi Kels, so glad you have found the blog useful! As far as the milk, I have always tried to keep the milk feedings separate from the meals to maximize appetite at mealtimes. So I would adjust the milk feedings give or take at least 30-45 mn from the meals. So when I introduced solids around 4.5 months, I started introducing meals one by one at the time I would eventually need them to be, starting with lunch around 12p, breakfast 8ish, then snack 430p-ish, then dinner 7pish, and did some trial and error with milk feedings around that. Sometimes I noticed when Pablo was a baby, if he was too hungry for milk, he didn't want the solids, or if he was too full with milk either. So it's a balance to be found (I personally opted for more milk feedings at a lesser quantity). All this keeping in mind that milk is the primary source of nutrition until 12 months, so solids are only introduced for familiarization of new flavors, textures, spoon eating etc. You might check out my FAQ section as well for more info, click on the FAQ link in blue banner on the upper right hand corner. Hope this is helpful! Let me know how it goes! :-)

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  2. I've just stumbled across your blog & love it! Fantastic good ideas and explanations, & I will be following your baby sign progress intently! We are also leaning to sign with my 9 month old & are loving it.

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    1. Thank you so much! Pablo being about 27 months and quite verbal, I haven't updated the sign language page in a while, though I must say I do not regret learning it, it was a wonderful way to communicate with my son from about 10 months when he started to sign back (he understood some basic signs way before then), until 22-24 months when he started to speak more. He was able to initiate conversations and it gave us a peak at how much he understood already. Also, I believe as a result of using signs, I have never seen my son get really frustrated with not being able to communicate. He's never really felt that, and he transitioned to verbal (in two languages) very smoothly. We still use a couple of signs out of habit or as our "secret" language (like I love you from afar). I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! :-)

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  3. Thank you for this blog! I have a 10-month-old who is getting bored of his purees and loves feeding himself. This has given me some really good ideas about what to offer him.

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  4. Would you mind answering two questions: were you offering gluten-free grains at all at this age, and what was the meal for breakfast? Thank you.

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  5. Sorry, just noticed your comment about grains above. Sleep-deprived mom here! :-)

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    1. Hi there, no worries :-) Around that age, breakfast was oatmeal or multigrain cereal flour, Greek yogurt, maybe a bit of bread and butter to chew on, a sip or two of fresh squeezed orange juice. Started introducing berries also (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or other seasonal fruit, but closer to 10-12 mo). Hope this is heplful, and hope you get some much deserved sleep too ;-)

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  6. Mark's forth word is cheese :) I'm so proud. Thanks again so much for your blog, it's been life changing.

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    1. I realize I never saw this comment, my apologies for the very late reply. Thank you so much for your kind words, so exciting your little one is enjoying the cheese, among many other good foods, I'm sure! He's lucky to have a thoughtful mom like you :-)

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  7. Do you still feed your baby milk while introducing him with vegetable puree? I assume that when he starts getting familiar with four course meals, he's already stopped eating breast/ formula milk completely?
    Thanks

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    1. Hi there. Yes, absolutely, milk is still the primary source of nutrition for an infant under 12 months. So the introduction of vegetable purees between 4-5 to 12 months is very progressive, and the goal is to familiarize baby with solids, with different texture and flavors, introducing him to mealtimes, to eating with a spoon etc. Most of the nutrition still comes from milk. After 12 mo, milk intake is reduced, but still important, definitely check with your pediatrician on quantities that are appropriate for your child. As far as the "four course meal", I actually started it around 8 months. For lunch for example, I would feed my son a vegetable finger food (cooked green beans, cauliflower etc), something he could feed himself, practice his finger grasp, and easily gum down. Then I would give him a protein/vegetable puree as a main (2nd) course. Then some cheese as a finger food also, cut up small and soft enough. And either fruit puree or yogurt for dessert. That essentially was the start of the four course meal! :-) Hope that answers your question!

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  8. Thank you so much for your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us and thank you for all the inspirational menus, recipes, stories etc.
    So far, with a 8 month old baby, I'm finding weaning the hardest by far. There are so many methods and so many ways. I'm so scared of messing up knowing the first 2 years might shape the kind of eater she might turn up.
    I appreciate your help immensely but still feel a bit confused in some aspects like breakfast and eating out and family gathering and other kids snacking in front of her etc...
    Thank you again and keep up the good work. Desperate mums out there like me are most grateful.

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  9. I'm really enjoying reading your blog. I am going through a bit of a struggle with my little boy. He's never been a big eater but recently he is just refusing everything I give him. He has a problem of vomiting so sometimes during a meal he will eat then suddenly cough and be sick. It's affecting me and him and I think he is starting to be put off food as he thinks everything will make him sick and I'm coming to the point where I just don't know what to make anymore. I tried yesterday the finger food and gave him a selection of veggies to choose (1 of each) and he chose one but that's all he wanted to eat. I give him Greek yoghurt and natural yoghurt which he loves and I feel he is starting to rely on yoghurt and milk to fill him up. Today I'm starting fresh but it's difficult to stay positive.

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  10. You mention vinaigrette what kind do you use? How do you make it?

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    1. Hi Tracey, my apologies for the delayed response. I make a batch of our basic vinaigrette in a glass bottle every few days so we have it on hand, basically 1 part vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, maybe add a bit of lemon juice and mustard, salt, some dry herbs if you want. Shake well and there you have it! :-)

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  11. Hello Helene, I wonder how you go between each course - for example, do you offer the next course when all the food you served in the previous meal has been eaten? I ask because my son quite often won't eat all of what we have given/or doesn't seem to be enjoying it. I was raised to 'finish a meal before dessert' but I want to pass on good habits (so not making dessert the goal!). So, I wonder how you encourage your baby to finish or what cues you take before moving on to the next course?

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  12. Hi! I've got a few questions for you regarding my 9 month old boy.
    We've been trying to introduce as many veggies as possible and he seems to do really well with them (Though still not a huge fan of green beans). He's also had some fruits, some chicken, and some sheep or goats milk yogurt plus goat cheese (which he loves!). He gagged when I gave him fish- haha!- I will keep reintroducing it.
    So we're really trying to keep his diet varied and wholesome!
    My question is about finger foods. He has no interest in them. He will happily chew on a raw carrot and sometimes cucumber, but anything steamed and soft that I give him he simply plays with and makes no attempt to eat it. I offer it on my finger and he'll take it but make a face at the texture. How can I encourage him to eat more finger foods, and should I be worried if by a certain age he still wants only purées?
    Thanks for your help! Love your site!

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