First Steps on “Solid” Ground – Part II


This is the continuation of the article

The journey gets even more interesting at this age as the child is beginning to develop his unique set of food likes and dislikes, partly influenced by the reactions of others who share the table with him. The baby also experiences the ability to communicate now, so even his food dislikes are prone to be shown stronger. As caretakers, we must ensure that the floor is clear from debris as non food particles are what children of this age get very attracted to, as their fine motor skills are developing well! Along with the fine motor skills of pincer grasp, comes the ability to bite, chew and swallow.  Let’s see how the journey for the next 7 months unwinds!

Nine to twelve months: By this time, the child has mastered the skill of crawling and is learning how to walk with support. Since he is excited to show off his walking skills, he is less likely to be seated for long periods, including the dining table during mealtimes. Allot a period of about 15 to 20 minutes. The child will have eaten what he wants within this time frame. Forcefully making a child sit for longer periods will invoke feelings of aversion. It’s best to let the child leave the table and wash up. Just like how we get bored of eating the same foods, babies also get bored, so try a variety. The larger the variety of foods introduced, the lesser are his chances of becoming a picky eater. This is also the time to make a feeding schedule and stick to it, preferably closer to the family’s feeding schedule. Foods could include:

Foods to includeFoods to avoid
Oat flour porridge sweetened with fruit puree Stews and soups, herbs and spices to flavour foods, Soft cooked elbow pasta, All vegetables, All fruits, preferably seasonal Meals similar to family meals, Curd and buttermilk in very small amountsSalt, Sugar,
Store bought juices, Biscuits, Heavily processed and dyed foods, Cow’s milk 

Twelve to fifteen months: Foods during this period should be the same as for the family. Feeds should be the “three-meal-a-day and two snack times” pattern now. Try transitioning the child to drink from a teaspoon to a straw tumbler and eventually to a wide mouthed tumbler (preferably steel). It’s time for patient parenting at the table now. Offer finger foods like chapathi pieces, fruits pieces that aren’t too soggy, plain rice to the child and allow him to eat on his own. Teach him how to use a spoon. To us, it might look messy, but to the child it’s a learning process.

By the child’s first birthday he should be eating the same food that the family does, bearing in mind that salt and sugar are still kept to a bare minimum. Allow the child to rely on his internal cues for feelings of fullness. In case the child is hungry again, it’s best to wait for the next meal or snack time to incorporate a routine and ensure that the child’s food timings don’t get too erratic. Otherwise, the child might not associate food to hunger, instead he will associate it with boredom, fatigue and other emotions. Foods to include:

Foods to includeFoods to avoid
All family meals with spice levels toned down, Non vegetarian foods such as hard boiled/fully cooked scrambled eggs Chicken/mutton soups, Fully cooked and shredded fish, Cow’s milk can be introduced after the child’s first birthday, diluted initially and then given at full strength after a few months. Dairy products – cheese, curd, buttermilk, paneer nut powders (almond, cashews)Salt and sugar to a bare minimum, Chocolates, candies, sweets, Health supplement food and drinks, Ice creams, Coffee and tea


All meals should be family meals. There is no need to be a short order cook for the child from now on.

As stated before, reinforce “eating time” at the table. It could be anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes for fast eaters and 20 to 30 minutes for slow eaters. Clear the table after that and feed the child only at the next meal or snack time and not in between, unless and otherwise the child is sick and is not eating well!

And remember that among children, food values are most often caught, not taught- so make sure you practice them first and be a fine role model!

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