By nine months your baby should be eating pretty much the same foods as the rest of the family. There will be times though when this isn’t possible, but generally a family-based diet is ideal. Having a baby in the house can actually be a good reminder for healthy eating.
Take your baby shopping with you and let them see you making healthy food choices. Even at this early age your baby will benefit from positive role modelling and learn to link food from its source to what ends up on their plate.
Helpful Tips for Feeding your Nine Month Old
Breakfast, lunch and dinner need to form the basis of your nine month old’s solid food intake. Two snacks a day at morning and afternoon tea time will help to sustain them between more substantial meals. Snacks don’t need to be big in volume and variety. Fruit, cheese, wholemeal bread with mashed avocado are healthy options.
Simple foods, prepared with minimal fuss and offered to a hungry baby are key to happy mealtimes.
Avoid offering your nine month old fruit juice; this is naturally high in sugar. Small pieces of cut up or mashed fruit will supply all their vitamin and mineral requirements.
Your baby’s growing body and brain needs iron-containing foods, in any order, and from a wide range of sources.
There are benefits to offer your baby a wide and varied diet. Some babies need to be offered new foods up to six times or more before they’ll accept the unfamiliar.
Breastfeeding and Solids
Whilst breast milk is undoubtedly nutritious, by nine months it is insufficient as a sole food source. If you’ve not offered solid food yet and your nine month old is still only interested in breastfeeding, it’s important that you speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about infant feeding to understand what your baby’s individual needs are.
By nine months babies are well aware of the world around them. Breastfeeding can be both a distractible time but also an opportunity for quiet and calm in a busy day.
Separation anxiety is common at nine months and is a sign of strong attachment. If your baby wants to comfort feed or just be cuddled when they’re feeling unsure or tired, then see this as a positive sign. While solid foods are important for all sorts of reasons, breastfeeding will provide both nutritional and psychological benefits to you both.
Expect some changes in your baby’s breastfeeding frequency when they are sick or going through a rapid growth spurt. Food intake is dynamic and dependent on many factors so don’t anticipate everyday to be the same when it comes to your baby’s eating. Just like us, they’ll have some days when they are hungrier, and others when a small to moderate intake is sufficient.
Healthy, well and thriving babies at this age are able to discern how much they need and want to eat, and then stop when they are satisfied.
Bottle Feeding and Solids
Breast is best for babies. By nine months if you are considering offering your baby formula after their solid foods, always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for advice and guidance on your nine month old baby’s individual feeding needs.
If your baby is already on formula always follow the manufacturer's instructions on the formula tins.
What Foods Should I be Offering My 9 Month Old?
When you make choices about your baby’s food, nutrient content as well as texture need to be the guiding principles. Adequate amounts of zinc, iron, fat, protein, vitamins and other essential minerals are important in your baby’s diet.
Five Important Tips for Feeding Your 9 Month Old
- Start mashing your baby’s food. Soft purees don’t encourage chewing, and increasing textures are important.
- Don’t be surprised if your baby won’t let you feed them. Some babies are particularly independent and don’t like any help.
- By nine months your baby won’t need feeding overnight. Aim to keep milk and meal times to between 6am-6pm. Babies who drink breast or formula milk overnight are not as hungry for solid foods during the day.
- Brush your baby’s teeth before they go to bed. Food and milk residue on baby teeth can support the food + bacteria = acid cycle of decay, especially overnight when saliva flow slows down.
- Limit your baby’s intake of sugar.
Food Safety and Your 9 Month Old Baby
Monitor your baby’s meal times and watch them when they’re eating. Choking is more likely with small or uncooked foods and babies can quite literally bite off more than they can chew.
Consider doing a first aid course and learn about infant resuscitation as the benefits are significant. Many large metropolitan children’s hospitals run these as well as first aid organisations.
Get into the habit of checking expiry dates on food and smelling and tasting your baby’s food first. Your baby’s gut and immune system are still immature and it's important to be cautious about food.
Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for advice and guidance on your nine month old baby’s individual feeding needs.