Learning to feed themselves, sitting up well in a high chair, becoming more and more curious - there’s a lot to look forward to with your eight month old. It’s important that at this stage you start to offer food before their usual milk feeds so that your baby begins to get more of their nutrition from food.
At meal times they might enjoy eating their meals with the rest of the family and they’re probably keen to handle their own spoon or even eat with their hands. This is a great way for them to learn, experiment and be more independent at meal times. It’ll also improve their hand-eye coordination.
Changing tastes and textures
By eight months your baby is likely to be happy eating solid foods from a spoon and may be starting to eat finger foods. If you haven’t started already, now’s a good time to introduce soft lumpy textures as well as minced and finely chopped foods to allow baby to explore more interesting textures. This will help baby learn to chew and develop their jaw muscles and help them learn to accept new things. They still might not have a lot of teeth, but they’ll chew well with their gums! You can encourage your baby to self-feed by giving them their own soft feeding spoon and soft finger foods.
Offer a wide variety of colourful and nutritious foods every day. Continue to introduce new foods including stronger flavoured foods such as ripe soft kiwifruit, oranges, cooked finely chopped spinach and capsicum and you can even include mild herbs and spices in their meals. If new foods are refused or spat out, you may need to offer some foods several times before they try and accept them.
Heinz® 8+ month baby foods with the green colour coded label can provide an increased variety of tastes and the baby food in jars have a soft lumps texture.
At 8-9 months of age you can start to offer solids before milk feeds so baby is hungrier for food. Carry on with breast (or formula) feeds after solid foods, as milk will still be providing much of the nutrition your baby needs.
At this stage, offer baby 2 to 3 solid meals a day plus 1 or 2 snacks. Baby may be eating around ½ - 1 cup of food at each meal, but every baby’s appetite is different and can vary day-to-day. They might also be drinking water from an open cup at mealtimes.
How do I know my baby has eaten enough food?
Healthy babies are good at regulating their food intake so they get just what they need. When your baby has eaten enough they may refuse food, turn their head away from the spoon, cry or clamp their mouth shut. Never force your baby to eat more than they want. Every baby’s appetite is different, and it is important to be responsive to their fullness cues.
Here are a few tips for the developing food journey:
- Prepare for the mess – it’s part of the fun! Your baby will invariably play with their food as they learn all about different textures and tastes, and it is great for their development to let them do so. Putting down a plastic mat under their highchair is a good idea as it’s surprising how far a little slice of banana can travel.
- Damp cloths – have plenty of these handy for wiping messy faces and fingers, you might also want to use some larger sized bibs. Clean them up at the end of the meal, as wiping grubby faces while they are eating might distract them from enjoying their food.
- Let them try – give your baby plenty of space to learn using fingers or spoons, but be close by to give them a hand if they need it.
Always make sure your baby is sitting down and actively supervised while eating and drinking.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2012) Infant Feeding Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
The materials published on this website are of a general nature and have been provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your medical practitioner or a qualified health provider for any further advice in relation to the topics discussed.