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Feeding your baby at nine to 12 months

Between nine and 12 months your baby should be well established on three meals a day eating and enjoying all types of food, with the exception of food with a high fat, salt or sugar content. Peanuts and honey should also still be avoided. It is very important that your baby learns to chew properly at this stage. If you are still offering your baby pureed food it is important that during this stage you gradually introduce more food that is chopped or diced, although meat may still need to be pulsed or very finely chopped. By the end of his first year, your baby should be able to manage thin slithers of meat or finely chopped meat.

Try to include some finger foods at every meal, and if he shows an interest in holding his own spoon, no matter how messy, do not discourage these attempts - have two baby spoons when you are feeding an older baby and give him one to try to feed himself. When he repeatedly puts it in his mouth, load up the second spoon and let him try to get it into his mouth, quickly popping in any food that falls out. It is important that he enjoys his meals even if a certain amount of it lands on the floor. With a little help and guidance, from 12 months most babies are capable of feeding themselves part of their meal. I recommend trying to have breakfast or lunch with your baby so that he can copy you eating. During this stage, his breakfast and mid-afternoon milk should be given from a beaker and when your baby reaches one year, you can replace the bed-time bottle with a beaker too.

What to expect

Between nine and 12 months babies need a minimum of 500ml (18oz) of milk a day, inclusive of milk used in solids. This amount is usually divided between three milk feeds of 180-240ml (6-8oz) in the morning, 120-150ml (4-5oz) mid-afternoon and a 210-240ml (7-8oz) bottle at bedtime. By the time they reach one year this should be down to a minimum of 350ml (12oz) a day, usually divided between two feeds and any used in solids. Babies who are allowed to drink excessive amounts of milk, which is more likely to happen when being fed from a bottle, are more likely to become fussy about solids as they fill up on milk and are not hungry for their solid food.

If you have not already done so it is important to get your baby drinking milk from a beaker. I would recommend that you start by offering the mid-afternoon milk feed from a beaker. Do not worry if your baby reduces the amount he usually takes at this feed as many babies drop it by the age of one year anyway. Once a beaker is introduced in the afternoon, and then the morning, the daily amount of milk the baby takes usually drops slightly, because most babies drink less first thing in the morning and mid-afternoon when the milk is given in a beaker. Once you have established your baby on a beaker mid-afternoon and first thing in the morning, provided he has shown that he can take 150ml (5oz) from the beaker, you can then look to replacing the 210-240ml (7-8oz) bottle at bedtime with a drink of milk from a beaker. Between nine months and one year most babies become more efficient at drinking from a beaker, so your baby should manage to drink between 180ml (6oz) and 240ml (8oz) at bedtime.

Babies who are still being exclusively breastfed should have all their water and any well-diluted juice offered to them from a beaker by the time they reach one year of age.

What to aim for

The majority of meals at this stage should consist of food that has been chopped, sliced or diced and each meal should include some finger foods. This is also a good time to introduce raw vegetables and salad foods. Your baby should be given a spoon and encouraged to feed himself with some of his food at mealtimes.

Between nine months and one year a typical day for a baby waking at 7am could look something like the following. If you are starting your day earlier or later the routine below can be adapted accordingly.

7am milk from a beaker followed by breakfast
9.30/45am-10am short nap (15-30 minutes)
10am some babies may need a small drink of water and a small snack
11.45am/12 noon solids with a drink of water from a beaker
12.30pm-2.30pm nap (2 hours)
2.30pm milk feed or drink of water from a beaker
5pm solids with a small drink of water or milk from a beaker
6/6.30pm bath
6.30/7.30pm milk feed, story, teeth cleaning and bed

Feeding Problems

As they reach their first year some babies start to cut back or get very fussy with their bedtime milk and can drink as little as 90-120ml (3-4oz). This reduction can often result in early morning waking, so to avoid this happening I would recommend that you check the list below.

  • The first thing to look at is the mid-afternoon milk feed. If your baby is still having this milk feed from a bottle and drinking more than 120-180ml (4-6oz), this could be the possible cause of him reducing his bedtime milk. I would recommend that this milk feed is reduced to no more than 120ml (4oz) to see if that will increase the amount of milk your baby takes at bedtime.
  • If you have already reduced your baby’s mid-afternoon milk feed I would recommend that you replace that milk feed with water and move the feed earlier, just prior to his lunchtime nap. Because it is not long since he has eaten his lunch, he will be less likely to take such a big feed, and giving it to him prior to his nap will allow a longer time between the milk feed and his solids at 5pm. You may find that he gets a hungry a little earlier than usual and that is fine as you can bring his tea forward by 15 minutes, which in turn will mean he is more hungry for his evening milk.
  • Another cause of a baby being fussy with his bedtime milk is being fed excessive solids at teatime. This is more likely to happen if a baby is still being served his food in a puréed or pulsed form and is eating in excess of 8 tablespoons of food. Try cutting his solids back slightly to see if that helps increase his bedtime feed.
  • Having too short a gap between teatime solids and bedtime milk is another reason your baby may cut back his milk. Try to allow at least one and a half hours between solids and his bedtime milk. Bringing his tea forward by 15 minutes will also sometimes help increase the bedtime milk feed. (For example, if tea is usually around 5pm and milk around 6.30pm but your baby is not taking enough milk, then solids could come forward to around 4.45pm.)
  • When structuring milk feeds you should aim to get your baby drinking nearer to 180-210ml (6-7oz) at bedtime. If you have to cut out the mid-afternoon feed to achieve this and your baby is less than a year and only taking 150-180ml (5-6oz) in the morning, it would mean that his daily milk intake will be 330-370ml (11-13oz), which is about 150ml (5oz) short of the recommended amount for a baby between the ages of nine and 12 months. This shortage can be added to your baby’s food in his breakfast cereal and by offering him plenty of milk sauces in his meals. Once he reaches a year he needs a minimum of 350ml (12oz) of milk a day, which he can easily get from two milk feeds a day - one first thing in the morning and the second in the evening.

Between nine and 12 months most babies become much more active as they begin to crawl and pull themselves up and 'cruise' around the furniture. The extra physical activity can cause them to become overtired around teatime. If this is the case with your baby I would recommend that you try giving him an extra 15 minutes' sleep at lunchtime. If he refuses to sleep longer, it would be advisable to bring forward his tea so that he does not get overtired and refuse to eat.

As your baby goes into his second year he will become much more independent and with that will come his need to be in control of what he eats and drinks. I would advise that you deal with any feeding problems that you are faced with now before he reaches a year, so that fussy feeding in toddlerhood is avoided. Listed below are just some of the most problems during this stage, that I deal with in my latest book.

Your Baby and Toddler Problems Solved: A parent's trouble-shooting guide to the first three years


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