Between 6 and 12 months, your baby will start to eat solids, drink from a cup, and feed herself finger foods. Here are some tips to help her learn these new skills.
Signs your baby is hungry
- Reaches for or points to food.
- Opens mouth when offered a spoon or food.
- Gets excited when seeing food.
- Uses hand motions or makes sounds to let you know she is hungry.
Signs your baby is full
- Pushes food away.
- Closes mouth when food is offered.
- Turns head away from food.
- Uses hand motions or makes sounds to let you know he is full.
Respecting your child’s hunger and fullness signs can help him be a good eater for life!
When you start solid foods, keep feeding breastmilk, formula, or both. Your baby may be ready to start solid foods when:
- She is around 6 months old.
- She can sit up without support.
- She holds her head straight and steady.
- She shows interest in food.
- She can close her lips around a spoon and keep the food in her mouth.
First bite tips
- Offer breastmilk or formula before feedings. This will assure your baby won’t be too hungry.
- It doesn’t matter what solid foods are introduced first.
- Offer one single-ingredient food at time.
- Increase the amount of food slowly so your baby can learn to swallow.
- Offer baby cereal by spoon. Do not put baby cereal in the bottle.
Starting a Cup
When is my baby ready to start using a cup?
- He can sit up in a highchair (usually around 6-7 months).
- He is showing interest in what you are eating and drinking.
- He is starting to feed himself.
What types of cups are good to use?
- Small, open top cups are best for learning.
- Look for a cup that is small enough for your baby’s hands.
What about sippy cups? Doesn’t my baby need one?
- Actually, no! Most sippy cups require sucking to get the drink out. Your baby already has that skill. An open cup will help teach her new skills.
How do I start giving the cup?
- Have your baby sit in a highchair or booster seat at the table at mealtime.
- Give your baby a small cup with a little bit of water in it.
- Do not expect your baby to get it right away. It will take lots of practice!
- Expect spills. This is one of the reasons why water is such a great drink to give. It is easy to clean up.
- As your baby gets better with the cup, you can put small amounts of breastmilk or formula in the cup.
Congratulations! You have helped your baby take a big step toward toddlerhood!
When your baby can sit up and bring his hands to his mouth, you can give finger foods to help him learn to feed himself. Make sure the food is soft, easy to swallow, and cut into small pieces. If you want to give your baby fresh food, use a blender or mash softer foods with a fork.
- Sit your baby in a safe, upright position.
- Offer your baby food by putting it in front of him or let him take it out of your hand.
- Include your baby in family meals.
- Start with foods that are easy to pick up.
- Offer a variety of foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and meats.
- Offer plain foods. Your baby does not need salt, spices, sugar, sweeteners, or other added flavors.
- Continue to offer breast or formula feedings.
- Relax. Don’t hurry or distract your baby.
- Expect that your baby won’t eat much at first.
- Expect a mess!
Keep your baby safe
- Make sure your baby is sitting upright.
- Avoid nuts and seeds.
- Cut small fruits in half and remove any pits.
- Don’t put food in your baby’s mouth.
- Never leave your baby alone.
- Do not offer cow’s milk or honey before your child is 1 year old.
Weaning from the Bottle
Why is it important for my child to stop taking a bottle?
- Healthier teeth. Longer use of bottles contributes to tooth decay.
- Fewer ear infections. When babies and children drink bottles or sippy cups in bed, it can increase the likelihood of developing an ear infection.
- More independence. Your child wants to do things by herself and using a cup is a great way to help!
When is a good age to stop giving my child a bottle?
- Around the first birthday, most children are able to drink from a cup.
- Fourteen months old is a good age for most children to “graduate” from the bottle.
How can I help my child to stop using a bottle?
- Start practicing early! Begin by offering a small, open cup of water to your child when he is around 6 months old.
- Give your child lots of opportunities to practice.
- At a year, when most children are starting to drink whole milk, put the milk in a cup (not the bottle).
- Give a small amount of milk, water, or juice, and refill as needed.
Are sippy cups a good replacement?
- Not usually! Most sippy cups require sucking to get the drink out. Your child has been practicing that skill for the past year. An open cup will help teach her new skills.
- A sippy cup can also contribute to cavities if your child carries it around with milk, juice, or any sweet drink.