By eight months, babies should be eating a varied diet that includes foods from all the main groups: protein (meat, fish, pulses etc), carbohydrates (potatoes, cereal, rice), fruit and vegetables, dairy and healthy fats (oily fish, seeds, olive oil etc). They should also have moved from runny pureed to lumpier mashed or blended food.
Regardless of your baby’s readiness, whether or not you can feed him the same family meals as you depends entirely on what you’re eating. Ready made meals and sauces are not suitable for young babies because of the high levels of salt they contain, which can harm developing kidneys. But freshly made, home cooked foods can be given to your baby, as long as you’re careful about your ingredients and preparation. Don’t add sugar, salt or salty ingredients like stock or gravy, and be careful to avoid foods that could be harmful at this young age, such as honey (linked with a rare form of food poisoning called botulism) or raw eggs.
If you’re cooking meat for the family, remember that it must be thoroughly cooked for your baby, and watch for choking hazards like bones in fish. Find out more about how to prepare and serve baby food safely. And be prepared to modify your meals to suit your baby’s tastes, for example by removing a portion of chilli from the pan before you add too many spices. On the whole, though, by 12 months, your baby should be able to enjoy most of the same meals as the rest of the family, and indeed, getting him used to these varied tastes at a young age can help to ward off fussy eating in the toddler years.
Answered by: Catherine Jeans, clinical nutritional therapist, www.thefamilynutritionexpert.com