Our therapists at Lumiere Children’s Therapy were able to attend the SOS Approach to Feeding Conference in July of 2015. They brought back a plethora of research, techniques, and knowledge from the conference that included the development of feeding. As part of our development series, this article will focus on the type and texture of food appropriate for your child during ages 0-24 months old. The foods listed below will additionally be combined with breastfeeding/bottle-feeding for those months, as the average length of breast feeding/ bottle feeding is 0-13 months.
Pediatricians recommend breast-feeding or bottle-feeding until your child is 5 or 6 months old. Once your child is around 5 or 6 months old, you can start to introduce them to thin baby food cereals. Start with 1 teaspoon of baby cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breast milk (or formula). Once comfortable with this, begin to increase the dosage to 1 tablespoon of cereal, twice a day.
It is important to introduce one food at a time and wait 2-3 days before presenting a new food. After giving thin baby cereal, introduce thicker baby cereals and puree. Thicker cereals included oats and barley. Purees can be fruit (banana, pear, peaches, apples), vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potato) or meats (chicken, pork, beef). For purees, start with 1 teaspoon a day, then increase to 2 or 3 tablespoons in four feedings. For cereal, use about 3 to 9 tablespoons during 2 or 3 feeding.
Around 8-9 months old, your child should be able to pick up objects with their thumb and forefinger (pinchers), transfer items from hand to hand, and put everything into their mouth. If this is the case, then it is time to start with solid and finger foods. Instead of pureeing fruits and vegetables, mash the soft vegetable and fruit. You may also introduce small servings of cottage cheese or soft pasteurized cheese. Hard munchables should be given during meal times as oral exploration, not consumption. Parents or caregivers need to be present while giving hard munchables. Hard munchables are important for the formation of your child’s mouth and teeth. These include raw carrot sticks, celery sticks, Dutch pretzels, pepper strips, frozen pancakes, frozen waffles, and frozen bagel strips. At 9 months old, meltable hard munchables are appropriate. Those include crackers, pancakes, waffles, and/or graham crackers.
Expand child’s food repertoire with soft cubed foods. Some examples are avocado, squash, kiwi, baked potatoes, peas, and/or bananas.
At this age, most soft foods are appropriate for your child, but try to stick to one texture. For example, try breads, muffins, pastas, lunchmeats, soups without broth, and/or eggs.
At 12 months, continue to explore new foods for your child. Mixed textures are encouraged at this stage. Mixed textures include macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, French fries, spaghetti fish sticks and/or soup.
Solids can be added to your child’s existing diet at this stage. Solids include cereals, chips, pretzels, popsicles, and/or baby cookies. Be sure to cut food into appropriate sized cubes for your child’s consumption.
As mentioned previously, hard munchables should only be used for exploration at 8-9 months old, but at 15-18 months they can be consumable (Refer to 8-9 months for a definition and example of hard munchables). At around 18 months old, your child should be eating a pretty diverse amount of food. However, be cautious of food allergies when offering any new types of foods.
If you have any concerns with your child’s eating habits, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy for a consultation with one of our speech or occupational therapists.
Lumiere Therapy Team
“Age-by-age Guide to Feeding Your Baby.” Baby Center. BabyCenter, LLC, n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.
Toomey, Kay A., Ph.D. “Developmental Food Continuum.” (n.d.): n. pag. Abstract. (n.d.): n. pag. Print.