Baby Eating Milestones You Should Know

Life is all about milestones. Those hallmark happenings that mark a big change, a passing of time, and a celebration of growth. These memorable moments begin at birth and string together the days, months, and years of our lives from age one to one hundred. Big or small, each milestone holds special meaning to those involved and one knows this to be more true than a mother.

From first steps and first words to first dates and first jobs, raising children involves a lot of celebratory firsts and major hallmark moments. Especially in the early years, kids are practically moving through milestones on the daily!

One area in particular that experiences notable growth during the first few years of life is the feeding and eating process. From breast milk to bottle feelings to the transition to solid food, there are quite a few notable markers that highlight the development of a young child’s eating habits.

As a new mom, whether it’s your first child or your fifth, keeping track of these big moments can prove difficult. To help, we’ve put together some of the key eating milestones for the benefit of you and your baby.

Milestone #1: Transitioning to Solid Food

The first major milestone in a little one’s eating adventures is the transition from liquids, such as sugar free formula, goats milk for babies, or organic cow milk for babies, to solid foods. This typically occurs around the age of six months, or when your child begins to lose his or her tongue thrust reflex – a necessary physical reaction that fosters bottle and breast feeding.

Milestone #2: Transitioning from Pureed Foods to Chunky Foods

Easing your child gradually from formulas and milks to purees to even more solid food takes time and patience.  It certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Gradually, in the weeks after beginning to introduce soft purees, babies can begin to tolerate even firmer foods. Good options to try include tender cooked meats, mashed deboned fish, soft pastas and rice, and hard-cooked eggs.

Milestone #3: Sitting in a High Chair to Eat

It is a difficult task for a baby to hold still in a high chair long enough to feed and be fed.  At this point he or she has hit another major milestone in the eating process. By being able to manage a high chair, little ones prove themselves capable of self-supporting their heads and necks and sit with assistance. This, in turn, means they’re often capable of eating a full range of solid foods.

Milestone #4: Introducing Finger Foods

Beginning at around seven months and ranging through the first year, children typically develop the skills they need to use their hands to feed themselves. This calls for the introduction of finger foods, such as diced pasta, peas, cubed carrots, or cereal puffs. Initially, babies will merely rake at foods until they’ve developed the fine motor skills they need to grasp at foods with their fingers.

Milestone #5: Beginning to Use Utensils

Typically, babies aren’t capable of using utensils – spoons, namely – until after they’ve turned one. However, children’s often express interest in playing with spoons prior to this eating benchmark. Allowing your tot to experiment before he or she is ready to independently hold and use a soft spoon will help them adapt more quickly when they are ready.

Milestone #6: Introducing Allergy-Prone Foods

One of the scarier milestones in a toddler’s feeding timeline is the point at which it’s safe to introduce foods that could pose an allergy risk. As per recommendations by the National Health Service, experimenting with high-risk foods should be done one at a time and with great care and observation.

Common allergy prone foods include milk, eggs, nuts (never whole nuts until after age five), seeds, fish, shellfish, and wheat. Do not attempt this stage of eating development prior to six months of age.  Always consult with your doctor as well as your family history of allergies and intolerances before introducing these foods.

Milestone #7: Drinking Water

During the first six months, breast milk, organic cow’s milk, goats milk, and infant formula are the best choices for your baby.  At this stage his or her stomach can easily fill up and miss out on key nutrients with the addition of any other liquids. However, once your baby is about 6-months old, introduce a sippy cup with a free-flowing valve at mealtimes. This will help foster the development of water drinking.

Milestone #8: Eating by Themselves

The final milestone in a child’s feeding development is the mastery of completely independent eating. This feat rarely occurs until well after the first birthday and requires practice and patience. Using utensils properly, proper hand/eye coordination, and well developed motor skills take time to conquer completely. Encourage your little one to keep working towards this final goal.  Before you know it, he or she will be eating with the rest and the best of them!

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