A good sign that your baby is ready to eat solid foods is when they can hold their head upright. By this time, they will be ready to sit in a high chair. When they’re around 6 to 9 months, babies can start drinking water and juice from a sippy cup, making this the perfect time to wean them off their bottle. Before a baby is 6 months of age, they shouldn’t be given any water because it’s too easy to fill up their tiny stomachs. Instead, babies under 6 months should be filling up on nutrients from breastmilk and formula. By 9 months, they can definitely drink water with their solid foods.
By 12 months, your baby may be off the bottle all together. Babies sometimes feel comforted when they are sucking, which can be a difficult hurdle during the weaning process. Start to introduce new activities they feel comforted by, like holding a stuffed animal or being read to while eating. At 9 months they’ll be able to go from purees to chunkier food. Experimenting with different foods and puree recipes will help you find their favorites and will make it easier to wean them off of their bottle. They will soon prefer to eat the delicious new foods you are introducing them to.
Selecting a high chair can be confusing, with all the styles and prices. You will want to choose one that is durable and will be able to withstand daily use. Choose one that is easy to clean and has an easily detachable tray. Whether you want a chair that is portable, lightweight, or has all the features, make sure the high chair you purchase meets the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) safety guidelines. Also, check to see that it hasn’t been recalled, has wheels that lock, and has a 5- or 3-point safety harness. For your child’s safety, you should buckle them into the chair even if they are unable to get out when the tray is locked into place. Babies are good at squirming, climbing, and rocking, and you don’t want an accident when you glance away for a second.
It is pretty common for toddlers to be hungry before your own mealtime, so feed them when they need to eat and give them something enjoyable to snack on while the rest of the family is eating. Keep in mind that toddlers’ tummies are a lot smaller than yours, and they are better at snacking throughout the day because they need constant energy.
When you start feeding your child chunkier food, cut their finger food small enough that it is pea sized, everything from meats to pasta, cheese, veggies, and fruit. Most babies don’t learn how to use a spoon properly until after their first birthday, but if your child starts becoming interested in picking up the spoon when you are feeding them, let them try! Thick and sticky foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, applesauce, and mashed potatoes are useful when teaching your child to hold a spoon in their mouth.
Expect a mess when your baby begins to eat in their high chair. It is inevitable. Have a plastic or waterproof bib, put a mat under the high chair, and have a wet cloth handy at all times. And don’t be shocked when food goes flying! Although food etiquette begins at the high chair, begin by making it an enjoyable and informal occasion. Talk to your baby and tell them what you are feeding them. Ask them how they like it before they can even speak.
Kids can stay in a high chair or a booster seat with a strap until around 3 and half years of age. However, it may be helpful for you to lay the ground rules about staying seated before they go strap free. They may want to try sitting in other seats as early as 18 months old, so make sure you are taking the proper safety precautions when you let them experiment with “big kid” behavior.
Once your toddler gets the basics and becomes more skilled with utensils, you can start focusing more on appropriate table behavior and manners. Toddlers are known to be picky and impatient. However, if you start conditioning them early with the proper encouragement and ground rules at the table, you will experience better behavior overall.
Everyone wants a patient, polite, and cheerful child especially when you are eating with family, guests, and out at restaurants. This attitude begins at home. Make sure you, your partner, and any other children are setting a good example. Allow your child to bring a companion to meals, like a doll or teddy bear or coloring books, if it makes them feel happier and more comfortable. This will help minimize them playing with their food or getting bored and restless. Ask your child about their day, what they learned, who they met in daycare, and so forth. Get them accustomed to sharing stories, listening, and being a good conversationalist at dinnertime. Before you know it you will have a wonderful little companion to share meals with. Bon appétit!
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult your healthcare provider directly for medical advice, diagnoses, and treatments. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health or the health of your baby, consult your physician.