When you have an 8-month-old baby, feeding can be quite a confusing time! Whether you're feeding table foods baby led weaning style, or are giving pureed foods, everything is changing rapidly!
Solid Foods Come Second
For eight-month old babies, an important thing to keep in mind is that solid foods are still secondary to their breast milk or infant formula.
It's easy to get caught up in the desire for them to learn to eat healthy foods. Especially if weight gain has ever been an issue of concern for you.
But your baby's food in that first year of life is all about exploration and getting your baby used to a variety of foods, which means introducing new tastes and new flavors. It's not about filling them up. That's what their milk is for.
We want them enjoying the social interaction they experience around foods. And we also want to take advantage of their openness to new foods at this age!
Your baby's taste buds are actively getting used to new foods during this stage. And laying the foundation for their future food acceptance is a big part of the puzzle.
Pureed Foods vs Finger Foods
There is quite a big division in the world of baby feeding between baby led weaning and purees. The biggest thing that gets lost in this discussion tends to be that ALL babies need to be eating table foods similar to the rest of the family by the time they are a year old.
Beyond that even, the general guideline is that purees are only for the very first few weeks of eating if they are used at all.
By 9-10 months of age, parents should be advancing their baby beyond basic purees and introducing different textures into their baby's diet.
There's no need to stick exclusively to things like infant cereals and traditional baby food. Both for texture reasons as well as the need to introduce variety!
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Baby Led Weaning at 8 months
When it comes to baby led weaning, 8 and 9 months also signals a big change for babies. This is usually the time where they develop their pincer grasp, meaning that they start to pick up small objects.
This fine motor skill development means that it becomes much easier for babies to pick up small pieces of food. This is a great time to start to incorporate more than just finger size foods. While the pieces should still be given as soft foods, some options become much easier for babies to handle around this age.
More: Head to this article on baby led weaning and first baby foods for a comprehensive guide on starting solids and advancing their foods!
Giving Your Eight-Month-Old Baby Food
Now that we know that we should be introducing textures to our babies, and that no matter what method you chose to start with at this age all babies should be eating some form of finger foods, let's talk logistics.
When it comes to a feeding schedule, this is also the age where babies generally go from 2 to 3 meals a day. Know, though, that this change is baby dependent. They won't all do it at the same time! The best way to tell when your baby is ready is when they are starting to really eat more food and are actively showing that they want food.
Don't expect your baby to eat much food right off the bat during this stage, though. Some babies will have big appetites, others wont. Both are completely okay.
Start with small amounts of food at any given meal. Small portions will often help babies be open to exploring, and giving more is usually better than putting it all on their plate at once.
Focus on Allergenic Foods
Food allergies are a major concern of many parents. With good reason! The best thing to do for babies is to introduce the main foods that tend to cause allergic reactions early. Early exposure has been shown to reduce the incidence of food allergies in babies.
Get Familiar with Choking Hazard Foods
In the early months of eating, there are a number of foods to avoid or alter in order for them to be safe for your baby.
Things like hot dogs, whole grapes, whole nuts, and hard candy tend to be pretty well known choking hazards. But others, like chunks of raw vegetables or hard fruits, globs of peanut butter, and even bread can be choking hazards at this age. For in depth help with serving these safely for this age range, be sure to check out the Starting Solids course.
The Best Foods to Feed an 8-Month-Old Baby
Beyond feeding your baby similar foods to the rest of the family, do your best to focus on the 3 main categories of foods for your baby. These include iron-rich foods, high calorie foods, and fruits and vegetables.
One of the best tips I can give your for making meals accessible is to use those 3 categories to easily create your meals and meal plans.
Instead of focusing on finding finger food ideas for your baby, aim to work backwards from your own food.
Take your dinner ideas for yourself and other family members, and then make sure there is a suitable option for your baby in each of the categories.
No iron-rich food in what your were thinking? Think of an easy iron-rich option that your baby can eat to add. (Meat, lentils, and beans are a good start. And things that can be easily added to a meal!)
It can take a little bit of time to get in the habit of this. But once you do, meals become much simpler to think of!
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