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Infant Feeding Guidelines: 10-12 Months
If you have followed our guidelines for the first 10 months, you are now ready to go on to table foods. This is the most wonderful time of all. Your baby is starting to become really interested in food, making choices and feeding himself. It may be messy, but it's a lot of fun!

You'll start to notice some changes at mealtime now. Your baby will be more interested in what's on your plate, may be very vocal about wanting to feed himself and may start refusing foods that were previously loved. Breastfeeding sessions are probably down to as few as four per day, or formula consumption is less.

By 10 months, your baby is ready to join the family for meals and eat many of the same foods as everyone else. To begin, he should be brought to the table with the rest of the family. Pull the highchair right up to the edge of the table or use an infant chair that attaches to the table. Joining the family helps your baby develop socialization skills, and watching others is how children learn.

Your baby should be allowed to self-feed as much as possible, so spreading a plastic cloth under his chair is advisable for easy clean-up. Start with small amounts, in tablespoon sizes, choosing foods that your baby can easily pick up. Allow him to investigate the food. He probably will squeeze it, smash it and even drop it to see what happens. Older babies are very tactile and learn about things by how they feel and what they can do. At some point, he will actually put the item into his mouth and go on to the next morsel. If he likes a particular food, give him another tablespoon. Keep foods small and soft to avoid choking, and cut meat into tiny pieces.

You may feel that your child is not getting enough to eat at this stage, especially if he is self-feeding. However, keep in mind that the breast milk and formula are still there to provide the bulk of his vitamins and minerals. Weight growth also begins to slow down as your baby approaches the first year, but you may notice that he is getting longer every week. Older, healthy babies are not really at risk for growth failure, so relax and enjoy the moment.

Also, remember that when parents insist on spoon-feeding their older babies they risk disabling the child's natural curiosity and may undermine the learning process. This doesn't mean you shouldn't be attentive, however. Praise your baby's progress as she gets the food into her mouth, using your smile and voice as a signal that she has done well. This increases your baby's confidence and self-esteem.

I don't recommend using a plate on baby's tray yet. Dishes tend to slide around, even the ones with the suction cups on the bottom, and usually end up on the floor. She should be using sipper cups only at this age. Continuing with a bottle encourages two negative outcomes: decreased solid food intake (with potential anemia) and cavities.

Suggested foods at this age are pastas and soft vegetables such as peas, cooked carrots and green beans. Canned, cut-up fruits are usually enjoyed but can be slippery and difficult to pick up. Draining the juice off first or gently rinsing with water may make it easier. Mashed potatoes, squashes and yams are messy but stick to the baby's hand and are easy to get into the mouth. Ground meats, fish, scrambled eggs and toast are all foods your baby is capable of eating. Citrus juices can also be introduced at this time, but begin with a diluted mixture of one part juice and one part water, gradually building the strength. Watch for a rash on your child's face or fanny, which may indicate too much acidity in the juice.

The age of 10 to 12 months is a developmental milestone in feeding. Postponing this step could result in your baby developing feeding delays for many months to come.

Finally, a word about the your baby's first birthday cake. Chocolate is great for pictures but can be allergenic. Instead, frost the cake with gooey whipped cream. It looks great, and it won't cause gas!

I don't recommend using a plate on baby's tray yet. Dishes tend to slide around, even the ones with the suction cups on the bottom, and usually end up on the floor. She should be using sipper cups only at this age. Continuing with a bottle encourages two negative outcomes: decreased solid food intake (with potential anemia) and cavities.

Suggested foods at this age are pastas and soft vegetables such as peas, cooked carrots and green beans. Canned, cut-up fruits are usually enjoyed but can be slippery and difficult to pick up. Draining the juice off first or gently rinsing with water may make it easier. Mashed potatoes, squashes and yams are messy but stick to the baby's hand and are easy to get into the mouth. Ground meats, fish, scrambled eggs and toast are all foods your baby is capable of eating. Citrus juices can also be introduced at this time, but begin with a diluted mixture of one part juice and one part water, gradually building the strength. Watch for a rash on your child's face or fanny, which may indicate too much acidity in the juice.

The age of 10 to 12 months is a developmental milestone in feeding. Postponing this step could result in your baby developing feeding delays for many months to come.

Finally, a word about the your baby's first birthday cake. Chocolate is great for pictures but can be allergenic. Instead, frost the cake with gooey whipped cream. It looks great, and it won't cause gas!

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant