By 8 months old, most babies are pros at handling the iron-fortified infant cereals and the puréed foods that are part of their diet, along with breast milk or formula. Over the next few months, they will start to explore table foods. Changing Eating Habits Start any new food with a trial run (a few days to a week) to look for any allergic reactions. But: Do not give honey until after a baby's first birthday. It can contain spores that are harmless to adults, but can cause botulism in babies. Do not give regular cow's milk until your baby is older than 12 months. It doesn't have the nutrition that infants need. You can buy baby foods that offer new tastes and textures. You can fork-mash, cut up, blend or grind whatever foods the rest of the family eats. To prevent choking, cook table foods a little longer, until very soft, and cut them into small pieces that your baby can handle safely. By the time babies are around 9 months old, they usually have the dexterity and coordination to take food between their forefinger and thumb so they can try feeding themselves. If you haven't already, have your baby join the rest of the family at meals. At this age, they enjoy being at the table. By the first birthday, babies are ready to go from formula to cow's milk. If you're breastfeeding, you can continue beyond your baby’s first birthday, if desired. If you decide to stop breastfeeding before your baby's first birthday, you give iron-fortified formula. If your baby is over 12 months, you can offer whole milk. If your baby uses a sippy cup, let him or her keep working on it. (Juice should always be given in a cup, not a bottle.) After 12 months, you can serve whole milk in a cup, which will help with the transition from the bottle. Feeding Safety Never leave your baby unattended while eating. Don't serve foods that your baby could choke on, such as whole grapes, raw vegetables, hard fruits, raisins, white bread, pieces of hard cheese, hot dogs, popcorn, and hard candies. If you're unsure about whether a finger food is safe, ask yourself: Does it melt in the mouth? Some dry cereals will melt in the mouth, and so will light and flaky crackers. Is it cooked enough so that it mashes easily? Well-cooked vegetables and fruits will mash easily. So will canned fruits and vegetables. (Choose canned foods that don't have added sugar or salt.) Is it naturally soft? Cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and small pieces of tofu are soft. Can it be gummed? Pieces of ripe banana and well-cooked pasta can be gummed. Making Meals Work Keep your baby's personality in mind when feeding your baby. A child who likes a lot of stimulation may enjoy it when you "play airplane" with the spoon to get the food into his or her mouth. But a more sensitive tot might need the focus kept on eating with few distractions. If your baby rejects new tastes and textures, serve new foods in small portions and mix them with food you know your child likes. How Much Should My Baby Eat? Infant formula and breast milk continue to provide important nutrients for growing infants. But babies will start to drink less as they reach their first birthday. They're getting more nutrients now from the variety of foods they've learned to eat and enjoy. You may worry that you're feeding your baby too much or not enough. Watch for signs that your child is hungry or full. A child who is full may suck with less enthusiasm, stop, or turn away from the breast or the bottle. With solid foods, they may turn away, refuse to open their mouth, or spit the food out. Let your baby finger feed or hold a spoon while you do the actual feeding. This is good preparation for the toddler years, when kids take charge of feeding themselves. And if you haven't already, set regular meal and snack times. Back to Articles Related Articles Finger Foods for Babies When they're around 9 months old, babies can begin feeding themselves. Find out which foods are safe, healthy options and which should not be served to little ones. Read More Feeding Your 1- to 2-Year-Old Toddlers have little tummies, so serve foods that are packed with the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong, and limit the sweets and empty calories. Read More Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old Is your baby is ready for solid foods? Learn how and when to get started. Read More Communication and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Babies this age might be about to say their first words, and communicate using body language. Read more about communicating with your baby. Read More Movement, Coordination, and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old From scooting to crawling to cruising, during these months, babies are learning how to get around. Read More Medical Care and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old As your baby becomes more independent, you may have questions about how to prevent bumps and bruises. Here are some other topics you'll cover with your doctor. Read More Your Baby's Growth: 8 Months Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds, and may even be crawling or cruising. Here's what to expect this month. Read More Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Sleep problems are common in the second half of a baby's first year. It's best to respond to your baby's needs with the right balance of concern and consistency. Read More Food Allergies Food allergies can cause serious and even deadly reactions in kids, so it's important to know how to feed a child with food allergies and to prevent reactions. Read More Learning, Play, and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Your baby is learning more about the world through play and is beginning to use words. Keep those toys and games coming! Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. 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