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  • Writer's pictureNicolle Weeks

The Three Stages of Eating: What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler

(Client: Today's Parent x Little Bellies)

Take your baby on a tasty adventure. Follow their developmental milestones to discover the best meals and snacks for every stage.

Welcoming your baby into the world of solids is an adventure filled with messy faces, tiny triumphs and, let’s be honest, a bit of confusion. As your little epicurean expands their tastes beyond milk, understanding the stages of eating can turn mealtime into a world of tasty discoveries. And offering a variety of foods to your baby or toddler could set you up for a less picky kid.

Let's dive into the stages that mark your baby’s journey from first tastes to confident munching. Plus, you'll find snacks from Little Bellies that are age- and stage-appropriate and encourage little ones to explore new flavours, shapes and textures.

Remember that all babies develop at their own pace. Trust that you and your baby’s doctor know best when it comes to developmental milestones.

7 - 8 Months Old: Discovering Favourite Flavours

Developmental leap

At about seven months, your baby will show you they’re ready for more than just milk and formula. Watch for signs like improved lip closure and the ability to move food from side to side with their tongue. This period is all about introducing them to different textures and the fun of self-feeding. As solid foods become a more significant part of your baby’s diet, you’ll notice a natural dip in milk intake. This transition is a natural progression towards a balanced diet, rich in the nutrients they need to thrive.

What to feed

Pureed fruits and veggies with a touch of breast milk, formula or water are go-tos for early feeding. Protein-rich foods, like small, soft pieces of cooked meats or boneless fish alongside beans and lentils, are vital for iron, especially for breastfed babies. Modern guidelines encourage introducing these foods earlier than suggested by past recommendations, giving your baby a head start on essential nutrients. Swap out hard, round foods for softer, squish-able options, ensuring everything is diced into tiny, manageable pieces.

Embrace Little Bellies’ TASTY TEXTURES range, for seven months and up, a collection of organic puffed snacks perfect for tiny hands. These snacks are a safe introduction to self-feeding and offer a delightful variety of flavours to tickle those tiny taste buds, encouraging your baby to embrace the world of food with glee.

8 - 10 Months Old: Expanding Horizons

Developmental leap

As your baby grows, so does their curiosity and capability. The emergence of the pincer grasp is a game-changer, letting them pick up smaller pieces of food. This stage is crucial for experimenting with a range of textures and learning the mechanics of eating, like using fingers to keep food in their mouth.

What to feed

Now’s the time to introduce a rainbow of mashed fruits and vegetables that are nutrient-dense and help to develop a palate for natural flavours. Think creamy avocados, ripe bananas or sweet potatoes and carrots—make sure they’re soft enough to mash with gentle pressure yet chunky enough to offer a new eating experience. Scrambled eggs, a simple yet nutritious powerhouse, can now be a part of your baby’s diet. Rich in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are fantastic for your baby’s brain development. It’s now considered safe and beneficial to introduce other potentially allergenic foods at this stage as well.

It’s also an excellent time to explore finger foods. Little Bellies’ puffs for babies 7 - 10 months old and beyond, teething crackers, and tiny pieces of soft fruits, cooked pasta, or vegetables will delight their senses and improve dexterity.

10 - 12 Months: Your Budding Gourmet

Developmental leap

Your little one is becoming a tiny foodie, ready to experiment with soft, chopped foods and show off their newfound biting and chewing skills. This stage is all about encouraging independence and offering a variety of textures.

What to feed

Most foods on your plate are now fair game for your baby, provided they’re properly prepared. Cutting up or mashing foods ensures your baby can safely chew and swallow. Remember that whole cow’s milk and honey are off-limits until after the first year.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there's no need to delay introducing foods like peanut products, eggs, wheat, or fish past the one-year mark to prevent allergies. It's always wise to introduce these foods gradually and keep an eye out for any adverse reactions.

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