5 to 9 Months: Feeding Your Older Baby

Your older baby's learning to eat solid foods goes along with her interest in the world. She watches you eat, and she wants to eat, too. Go by what your baby can do, not by how old she is to guide starting and progressing solid foods.  Then let her do it her way. One baby will accept solid foods from the start, quickly learn to close her lips over the spoon and swallow, accept thicker, lumpier food, and be ready by 7 to 10 months to finger-feed herself modified family food at family meals. Another cautiously accepts solids but needs to be introduced gradually to a variety of tastes and textures and get to family meals when she is in her second or even third year. Another takes to the spoon demands to feed herself—even  though she can't! Still another isn't at all interested in the spoon, and waits to eat solid foods until she can finger-feed herself family food.  

Have the right goals

This point is NOT to get food into your baby. She is getting plenty of nourishment from her breastmilk or formula. It is to introduce her to the notion of eating different food, in a different way. Stow your agenda, and don’t get pushy or you will spoil the fun for both of you!

Look for the signs. Your baby is ready to be introduced to solid foods when she can:

  • Sit up
  • Do something with the spoon. It is all learning and it is all part of growing up with eating. 
    • Open up for it, get the food into her mouth.
    • Grab it and bang it.
    • Drop it on the floor.
    • Touch the food and smear it around.

How to introduce solid foods (provided your child is willing):

  • Have her sit in a high chair looking straight ahead.
  • Hold the spoon a few inches in front of her mouth and wait to see what she does.
  • Do it her way: let her eat or not eat, eat little or much, fast or slow.
  • Stop the feeding when she is done opening, swallowing, smearing, dropping, banging.
  • Give her plenty of chances to learn, have fun, and keep it casual.

Help your baby develop mouth skills

You will help your baby to develop her mouth skills by offering her thicker and lumpier food and then pieces of soft family food at family meals. She will eat more regularly and at longer intervals, so feeding times are partly on demand and partly on a schedule that you determine. Feeding her will go best if you get started now with family meals.

For more about feeding your baby, see Ellyn Satter’s Feeding with Love and Good Sense: The First Two Years. Also see www.EllynSatterInstitute.org/store to purchase books and to review comprehensive educational materials that teach stage-related feeding and solve feeding problems.

See also: Division of Responsibility in Feeding and Division of Responsibility in Activity

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©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at www.EllynSatterInstitute.org. You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.