At around 10 to 12 months, your baby will be on their final transition towards eating full family meals. There are 3 main changes that tend to happen at this stage: less milk, more complex textures and the introduction of a second course.
Nutrition is still as important as before, and perhaps even more so as milk intake reduces. If you are breastfeeding, you may find your baby doesn’t feed for as long, or pulls away from the breast as their attention moves elsewhere. Formula-fed babies usually need around 300-400ml per day around now (more than this may interfere with their food and nutrient intake).
It’s worth remembering that babies’ tummies are still quite small, which means that their food needs to be optimised for nutrition in each and every bite. By now breakfast, lunch and dinner will likely be well-established and you can start to offer a second course with each meal if you haven’t done so already.
Dessert or pudding is not a reward for eating well, it’s actually a second opportunity for nutrition! Also, a second course doesn’t have to be sweet. Below are some suggestions for you to try.
● Natural yoghurt (you can flavour it with pureed fruit or a nut butter)
● Frozen fruit smoothie ice lollies
● Cubes of cheese, raisins and bread sticks
● Homemade low sugar muffins or cookies
● Low-sugar fruit crumble and custard
● Half a toasted hot cross bun with butter
● Baby rice cakes with a nut butter
We add an extra consideration to our meal planning guide during stage 3:
1. Start with an iron-rich protein food like meat, beans, lentils, eggs or tofu. Your baby’s requirement for iron is very high now, as the store they were born with has run out.
2. Add a vegetable and a fruit in, as these provide vitamin C and help your baby absorb the iron.
3. Add in an energy-boosting food too, as fuel for growth. Examples of these are avocado, nut butters, yoghurt, buttered toast, potato, pasta, sweet potato or grains.
4. Consider the different textures that your little one has on their plate. Ideally, you’re offering a wide range so that they can practice their eating skills at every meal.
If you’re following the traditional weaning path, your baby should now be able to manage chopped or minced textures (purees and mashed foods are long gone), as they’ve gradually progressed towards bigger bites.
Meat can be a tricky texture to master, particularly if its chewy. Sometimes babies chew meat for a while and then let it fall out of their mouths as it takes a lot of effort for them. Try slow cooking as this tenderises meat, or use minced meat to create mini sausages, meatballs or burgers.
You can also now start to combine textures within a meal, though mixed texture meals are one of the most complicated skills to master. Try small pasta shells in a sauce like pasta Bolognese, or beans in a casserole. You would start with lots of pasta and less sauce and gradually increase the sauce so it becomes more liquidy like a casserole or beans in a sauce.
Dips and stick-shaped foods are great now too, as they help your baby’s hand-eye coordination skills and are a fun way of introducing different textures together. This could become a fun activity for your little one!
Hard foods like raw carrots, celery sticks and apple can be reintroduced once your baby has teeth. By now they’ll have the skills to be able to safely chew and swallow. However, never leave your baby alone while they are eating.
If you don’t already do this, it’s a great opportunity to stop pre-plating your baby’s meals and start serving meals ‘family-style’. This is where you have dishes of food in the centre of the table like a buffet and each member of the family serves themselves. Your baby won’t yet be able to serve themselves, but they can indicate what they would like by pointing, or show you that they want you to stop.
Serving food this way teaches autonomy and trust, which is important for children as it helps them to develop a healthy relationship with food and with you as their parent. It also encourages families to eat together around the table, which has so many benefits for children and is key for their learning.
If you are formula-feeding, now is the time to ditch the bottle and move to milk in a cup. Cup drinking is not easy for babies, however, so you may well find that they drink less. Practice is important too, but by 12 months the bottle should be gone.
Choose one type of cup and stick with it, so your baby only has one new way of drinking to master. Use the same type of cup as the one you offer for water, but choose a different colour so that when your little one sees it, they know what's inside it.
An open cup is best, but if you can't bear the mess a free-flow spouted beaker is also fine. Avoid non-spill cups with valves as these require your baby to learn an unnatural drinking technique that they have no use for in the future.