The next stage
Once your baby is happy eating from a spoon, increase the range of foods you offer to include:
• purees of lentils or legumes such as sweet peas;
• purees of mixed vegetables with potatoes or rice;
• purees which include leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach, bayam, siew pak choy or kailan;
Try to limit the number of sweet or cereal purees to one a day, and always include a vegetable puree. Gradually make the food a thicker consistency.
Your paediatrician may recommend that you wait at least six months to introduce soya beans, fish and citrus fruits; wait one year to introduce eggs and cow's milk or milk products (cheese and yoghurt); two years to introduce shellfish
If your family has a history of allergies, such as eczema, asthma or food allergies, your baby should avoid peanuts and sesame seeds up to the age of three years.
The risk of developing coeliac disease is reduced by avoiding foods containing gluten, such as wheat, rye and barley-based foods. That includes bread, flour, pasta, some breakfast cereals and rusks until six months. Oats are best avoided until six months, too, in case they contain traces of gluten.
Avoid follow-on milk until after your baby is six months old.
Don't add salt or sugar, honey or other sweeteners to your baby's food.
From seven to nine months
From now your baby's ability to join in with family meals increases enormously. Seat him, in a highchair, at the dinner table when the family is taking meals.
Even if your baby has an earlier mealtime than the rest of the family, it is important that he gets used to having meals in his highchair, especially now that he is becoming mobile. Babies who are in a recline or semi-recline position and toddlers who are allowed to run about with food in their mouths are at increased risk of choking!
You should offer your baby a wide range of foods to fulfil his nutrient requirements, and to get him used to eating different flavours. There are also fewer foods to avoid.
Now's the time to introduce:
• Mashed or minced food, not purees. Be sure to include some lumps.
• A wider range of starchy foods -- bread, pasta, pita bread, thosai, breakfast cereals, oats, in addition to soft mee or meehoon, potatoes, rice and millet. Give two to three servings a day of starchy foods.
• Cooled boiled water from a beaker with a soft spout, when she is thirsty, in addition to her daily breastmilk or 500-600mls/ 17-20oz of formula. If you do choose to give fruit juice, keep it to mealtimes only and dilute it 1 part juice to 10 of cooled boiled water, and use a beaker or feeding cup, not a bottle. Keeping juice to meal times helps with iron absorption and reduces the risk of damage to emerging teeth.
• Citrus fruits such as oranges.
• Eggs which are well cooked, fish and lentils. Aim for one serving of protein-rich food a day.
• Dairy products, such as yoghurt and cheese. Although you should wait until one year to introduce cow's milk as a drink, it can be used in cooking or in your baby's breakfast cereal, so make a cheese sauce to add to vegetables or pasta.
• Follow-on formula can be used if you wish.
• Finger foods are great once your baby can hold things, and allow her a degree of control. Try cooked green beans or carrots, cubes of cheese, slices of banana or soft pear.
From 10 months
Meals should be more adult-like now. They should be chopped or minced and follow a two to three meal a day pattern along with one or two snacks and 500-600mls/ 17-20oz of breastmilk or formula milk. At this stage your baby should be having:
• three or four servings of starchy foods, such as rice, mee, bread, pasta or potatoes, a day
• one serving of meat, fish, eggs, or two of pulses (lentils, peas, beans)
• one to two servings of cheese or yoghurt as well as breastmilk or formula milk.
What should babies under one year avoid?
• Still keep off salt, sugar, honey and artificial sweeteners. Try sweetening desserts with mashed banana or a puree of stewed dried fruit if possible, or use expressed breastmilk or formula milk.
• Avoid the temptation to add a little tea to baby's bottle. The tannin in tea interferes with iron absorption, and the caffeine it contains is not recommended for children.
• Avoid giving fruit squashes or diet drinks to your baby. Artificial sweeteners are not suitable for babies and young children.
• Avoid foods which may carry a risk of food poisoning, such as soft mould-ripened cheeses (brie, camembert) and liver pate. Eggs must be properly cooked – avoid giving soft-boiled, half-boiled or raw eggs.
• Don't give cow's (or goat's or sheep's) milk as a main drink under one year.
• Skimmed and semi-skimmed milks, low-fat spreads, yoghurts and reduced-fat cheeses. Always offer your baby the full-fat versions -- they need the calories.
How much fat should babies and toddlers have?
Up to the age of at least two, fat is an important source of energy for your baby, so full-fat versions of milk, cheese and yoghurt are important. When she is two, and only if she is growing well, and eats a well-balanced diet, you can gradually introduce lower-fat versions. By the time she is five years old, only about a third of her energy should be provided by fat.
How much fibre?
Be cautious about introducing too many wholegrain foods and pulses for babies and young children. These tend to be bulky and can fill up a small tummy, leaving little space for other higher energy foods. So give your baby and toddler a mixture of white and wholegrain bread, rice and pasta as well.