9 Months – Healthy Eating

Getting Healthy Eating Right from 9 Months

What foods to provide

Your baby is still experimenting with textures, tastes, smells and colours. Continue your mission of increasing the number of foods they eat by trying new foods everyday. Try different combinations of the foods they have tried. They may be unsure of new foods and new combinations the first few times so keep trying and trying. If they spit a food out try again another time and move on. Remember: Colour Every Meal with Fruits and Vegetables.

‘Everyday’ foods and drinks for your baby and the whole family are vegetables, fruits, whole grain breads and cereals, milk and milk products, lean meat, fish, poultry and legumes, and water.

Foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt should only be consumed ‘sometimes’. The problem with providing ‘sometimes’ foods is that these foods will replace the nutritious foods that children need every day. This can lead to later health problems.

How much food to provide

Your baby will tell you how much food they need. What this means is that parents’ job is to provide a wide variety of healthy foods at regular meal and snack times and it’s a kids’ job to decide what and how much of that food to eat. Parents should trust a child’s natural hunger and fullness signals. Remember, Parents Provide, Kids Decide. Try to keep to a routine around meal and snack times and limit eating in between. If you allow your baby to graze on food they will not be hungry enough to try new foods or eat foods that are not their favourites.

What to drink

Beyond breast milk or infant formula, the best drink for children is water. Babies do not need sweet drinks such as fruit juices, soft drinks, energy drinks, cordials, flavoured mineral waters and sports drinks, either bought or home-made. Sweet drinks are high in energy (kilojoules) and contain very little nutritional value. Regular intake of sweet drinks may cause excess weight gain and tooth decay even before the teeth have broken through. Avoid using a baby’s bottle for comfort as this can also lead to tooth decay. Encourage your baby to drink cool boiled water from a cup from around 6 months of age. Remember to Tap into Water.

I can do it myself

Some babies start to want to feed themselves. It can be tempting to hold off on this as it creates a mess and you wonder if any of the food actually went into their mouth. However, this is a great way for your baby to practice coordinating their hand movements. You might also find them more willing to try more of something if they are feeding themselves. Try using two spoons if they are having difficulty, one for you and one for your baby. Remember to always cut foods into small enough pieces so that they do not pose a choking risk. NEVER leave your baby while they are eating. It does not take long for a baby to choke even on something small and they may need your help.

Finger food ideas: (For babies wanting to feed themselves finger foods are useful.) (Remember: Colour Every Meal with Fruit and Vegetables)

  • Steamed baby corn
  • Sliced avocado
  • Cooked carrot – cut into sticks
  • Watermelon cubes
  • Strawberries
  • Thin rice cakes with a spread (avocado or cheese)
  • Halved unseeded grapes
  • Toast fingers with spread (avocado or cheese)
  • Banana
  • Cucumber (cut up or whole)
  • Capsicum slices (they can suck on this and get the flavour)
  • Cooked apple slices
  • Orange segments
  • Pita sandwiches made with left over dinner meat, cheese, hummus, or another spread
  • Cooked cauliflower florets
  • Cooked broccoli florets

Adding salt, oil and sugar

Babies have more sensitive taste buds than adults, so try to avoid your baby developing a taste for foods with added salt or sugar.

Fruits and vegetables

Children can learn to like different fruits and vegetables. It just takes repeated efforts to offer them, and have them rejected and eventually accepted. Individual genes do not determine taste preferences. Make sure that there is a variety of colours of fruit and vegetables at each meal or snack.

Budget tip:

When choosing between items, make sure to check out the “unit price”!

The Australian Government mandates ‘unit pricing’ for large stores. What this means is that the stores must display the price of a grocery item as a standard unit of measurement alongside its selling price. Different types of grocery items will use different measurements, e.g. per litre, per kg, per 100 g. You can use this to compare the actual costs between different items.

For example:

  • Fruit and vegetables per item or per kg
  • Meat per item or per kg
  • Beverages per litre
  • Cheese per kg
  • Eggs per 100 g
  • Flour per kg

Just add fruit and vegetables tip:

Offer the vegetable first at meals when your baby is most hungry. Steamed vegetables are a great food for your baby to practice eating on their own. While they are eating their vegetables it will give you a chance to eat your food as well.

> Useful resources for Session Three: 9 Months