Now that your baby is able to take on more of a role at mealtimes, here are some ways you can help build her interest.

  • Place a variety of finger foods on her tray and let her play with them. Sure, she’ll make a mess, but she’s learning how to grasp the food and get it into her mouth. 
  • Limit the amount of food you put in front of your baby. This tactic will be less overwhelming and also makes less of a mess.
  • Regularly introduce new foods. They won’t all be hits, but keep trying. Novelty appeals to babies.
  • Allow your baby to eat from your plate, on occasion. She’s likely to find your food more appealing (because it’s yours), and as long as the choices are safe, there’s no harm. You can also try putting some of her finger foods on your plate. If she thinks it’s your food, she may be more likely to eat it. 
  • Don’t force your baby to eat. She’ll eat when she’s hungry and stop when she’s full.
  • Expect a mess. Try to be patient and not let it upset you. It’s important to be encouraging at mealtime, not punishing. On the other hand, there’s such a thing as too much. When your baby is simply flinging her peas and smearing her yogurt without actually eating, you should matter-of-factly draw the meal to a close.

—Scott Cohen, MD, pediatrician and author of Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year