By the time your baby is 9 months old, they have likely been eating solid foods in addition to either breast milk or formula for a few months.

It can be overwhelming deciding what foods to feed your little one, especially when you’re most likely already busy babyproofing and soaking up all the new and exciting milestones.

This article provides an overview of some of the best foods for your 9-month-old, as well as which foods are best avoided so that you can help your baby get all the nutrients they need.

Even though your 9-month-old is eating food, their main source of nutrition should continue to come from either breast milk or formula. Any additional foods can be considered complementary until your baby turns 1 (1, 2).

Some parents choose to begin with puréed foods when first starting solids, while others may opt for a baby-led weaning approach, which involves offering foods in their solid form with an emphasis on allowing babies to feed themselves (3).

If your baby eats purées, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends beginning to offer foods with varying textures and some more solid foods that help a baby learn how to chew around 8 months of age (2).

Some great foods to offer your 9-month-old baby include:

  • Fruits: bananas, soft pears, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries
  • Vegetables: soft-cooked broccoli, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes
  • Protein: eggs, soft-cooked or ground meat, tofu, smashed beans, low mercury fish
  • Healthy fats: avocado, fish, olive oil, nut butters
  • Iron-containing foods: eggs, meats, fish, iron-fortified cereals, whole grain bread or pasta

Key nutrients for baby

Offering a variety of foods will provide your baby with a variety of important nutrients, some of which are especially important for healthy growth and development.

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health and may help build strong immune systems in babies, though more research is needed on the latter.

Infant formulas are typically fortified with vitamin D, but it’s often recommended that breastfed babies take a supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D per day for their first year of life (4, 5).

Because babies experience such rapid growth in the first year, they’re at a high risk of an iron deficiency, which can lead to serious health outcomes.

Iron supplementation may be needed after the first 6 months, but it may not be necessary if your baby is getting enough iron-rich food sources regularly or drinking formula, which is typically fortified with iron (5, 6).

Healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, are also important for babies and young children. They help promote the development and function of brain, eye, and immune health (7, 8, 9).

Summary

Offering your baby a variety of foods will provide them with a variety of important nutrients, but keep in mind, their main source of nutrition should still be breast milk or formula at this age.

While most foods are OK for babies as long as they are prepared and cut appropriately, some foods should be avoided in the first year. Some foods may cause food poisoning in little ones, and others are considered choking hazards.

Here are some important foods to avoid feeding your 9-month-old (10):

  • honey
  • raw or undercooked meat, fish, or eggs
  • fish containing high amounts of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, and marlin
  • added sugars
  • salt and high sodium foods
  • unpasteurized foods
  • potential choking hazards like whole grapes, whole nuts, raw fruits and veggies

You may have heard that babies under 1 year shouldn’t drink cow’s milk. That’s because they should still be drinking formula or breast milk to meet their nutritional needs.

They can have milk mixed into foods, such as oatmeal or smoothies, but you could also use breastmilk or formula.

Babies shouldn’t get added sugar, which can replace more nutritious options. Also, too much sodium may be harmful to their developing kidneys, so it’s best to limit their salt intake (10).

Summary

It’s important to stay away from certain foods in the first year of life because they can cause food poisoning or choking or may not be the best choices for their developing bodies.

A 9-month-old needs 750–900 calories per day and about 400–500 should continue to come from breast milk or formula (2).

You don’t need to track your baby’s calorie intake, but you may wonder how much to offer at each meal and snack.

Babies will eat when they’re hungry and stop when they are full, so you can let them decide how much they would like to eat.

Your baby will likely show cues of feeling full, such as turning his or her head away from you or pushing food away, and also show signs that they’re hungry, such as opening their mouth for food or getting excited (11).

Summary

A 9-month-old baby needs about 750–900 calories per day. Be sure to keep up with regular formula or breast milk feedings to help them meet their needs, and let your baby decide when they’re full at meals.

It’s normal for your little one’s appetite to vary day to day. Remember, breast milk or formula should continue to be the main source of nutrition for the first year of life, and babies should be getting about 24 ounces (720 mL) of either daily (2, 12).

You can and should also offer water with meals at this age to encourage proper hydration and help wash down solid foods. At this age, it’s recommended babies get about 4–8 ounces (0.5–1 cup) of water per day (13).

As for other beverages, the AAP recommends sticking to just water and breast milk or formula at this age and avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and other drinks until 2 years of age. Cow’s milk or soy milk can be introduced after 12 months (13).

Here’s a sample menu for a 9-month-old, including 3 meals, snacks, and breast milk or formula:

Breast milk or formula

6 ounces (177.4 mL)

Breakfast

  • 2–4 ounces (59.1–118.3 mL) of prepared iron-fortified cereal
  • a banana or other fruit (you can try cutting it up or mashing and mixing it into the cereal, too)
  • about 1 teaspoon of nut butter stirred into the cereal

Snack (optional)

One of the following options:

  • soft (or cooked) fruit
  • plain, whole milk yogurt
  • teething biscuits

Breast milk or formula

6 ounces (177.4 mL)

Lunch

  • scrambled egg
  • soft-cooked broccoli
  • whole wheat toast with mashed avocado (try cutting it into strips for easy self-feeding)

Snack (optional)

One of the following options:

  • cubed cheese
  • whole milk cottage cheese
  • soft (or cooked) fruit

Breast milk or formula

6 ounces (177.4 mL)

Dinner

  • soft-cooked shredded chicken (the slow cooker is great for this)
  • smashed peas
  • roasted sweet potato wedges
  • soft (or cooked) fruit

Breast milk or formula

6 ounces (177.4 mL)

Summary

Above is a sample menu for a 9-month-old baby. Remember, babies will let you know when they are full, and they may not eat everything offered. It’s important to continue to offer at least 24 ounces (720 mL) of breast milk or formula daily.

Feeding your little one can feel daunting, but there are ways to keep it simple so you don’t have to spend too much time cooking and prepping.

Here are some quick meal and snack ideas for your 9-month-old:

Quick and easy breakfast ideas

  • scrambled eggs, or a veggie omelet with soft fruit, and whole wheat toast topped with smashed avocado
  • French toast made with 1 egg and a sprinkle of cinnamon, topped with plain whole milk yogurt and no-sugar-added applesauce
  • plain, whole milk yogurt or whole milk cottage cheese mixed with soft fruit and Cheerios
  • iron-fortified cereals mixed with nut butter and smashed fruit

Quick and easy lunch or dinner ideas

  • baby meatballs with mashed potatoes and soft-cooked green beans
    • Combine 1 pound (0.45 kg) of ground meat with 1 egg and 1/2 cup oat flour (plus any seasoning you’d like, other than salt).
    • Roll the mixture into meatballs and bake or cook them with a little chicken broth in an instant pot or slow cooker.
  • shredded chicken with smashed peas and corn
  • whole wheat penne pasta with low sodium marinara sauce
  • poached fish with sweet potato wedges and soft-cooked broccoli and carrots
  • diced tofu with soft-cooked green beans and smashed chickpeas

Quick and easy snack ideas

  • soft-cooked vegetable finger food, such as asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, or potatoes
  • toast or crackers with smashed avocado
  • soft or cooked fruits like banana, ripe peaches, strawberries, or cooked pears
  • cubed cheese
  • plain whole milk yogurt
  • whole milk cottage cheese
  • hard-boiled eggs

Summary

Feeding your 9-month-old can be overwhelming and time-consuming. It’s a good idea to have some go-to ideas in your back pocket for quick and easy meals.

Meal prep

Meal prepping is a great way to save time and set yourself up for an easier week. If you can, try planning some meals ahead of time and doing some cooking in advance so that you can reheat things during the week rather than cooking daily.

By the time your little one is 9 months old, they can eat a lot of what you’re eating. When you prepare a meal for yourself or the rest of the family, see what you can do to make it baby-friendly. Here are some tips:

  • Leave the salt out until you portion out your little one’s helping first.
  • Cut foods into safe sizes for your baby to consume.
  • If you’re using a spicy or high sodium condiment, set aside some food for your baby before adding it in.
  • Check the texture of the meal yourself to make sure it’s soft enough for your baby. Pinching a food between your fingers is a great way to see whether they can squish it with their gums.

To reduce their choking risk, cut food small enough for them to grab and bite, but not so small that they can swallow it whole. Some raw fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, are also choking hazards because they’re too hard to bite into.

Food safety

It’s important to prepare your little one’s food using safe cooking practices to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Wash your hands and switch cutting boards when handling raw meat to avoid cross contamination. Cook meats, fish, and eggs to safe temperatures — 145–165°F (62.8–73.9°C) — depending on the food (14).

Be sure to refrigerate food soon after finishing it to preserve it. It’s also a good practice to date leftovers so you know when to throw them away. Most food lasts a few days in the refrigerator or 1–2 months in the freezer (15).

Allergens

By the time your child reaches this age, you may have already begun to introduce some common allergens, such as peanut butter, eggs, and fish. If you haven’t yet, now is a great time, as introducing them earlier on may help prevent an allergy (16, 17, 18).

It’s a good idea to introduce allergens one at a time and wait a few days in between so that you can monitor your baby for any possible reaction (19).

Signs of an allergic reaction include (20):

  • wheezing or coughing
  • swelling in the lips or throat
  • a runny nose
  • itchy skin or a rash
  • diarrhea, vomiting, or other signs of stomach upset

If you notice any signs of a mild allergic reaction, such as a rash or upset stomach, call your pediatrician. Call 911 if the symptoms are more severe, such as if you suspect anaphylaxis, which usually involves wheezing, hives, drooling, and drowsiness (21).

Packaged foods

Offering packed foods to your baby can be a convenient way to feed them when you’re short on time. We recommend offering a variety of whole foods whenever possible, but having some packaged items in the pantry can come in handy.

When shopping for packaged baby-friendly foods, look for foods that are low in sodium, added sugars, additives, and preservatives. Additionally, be sure they don’t contain any of the foods that should be avoided in the first year, such as honey.

Lastly, remember that mealtimes should be a fun, low pressure experience. Try not to force your baby to eat more if they are showing signs of feeling full. If they refuse a food, you can try offering it again another time.

Repeated exposure to new foods and maintaining a low stress environment has been shown to promote food acceptance among little ones (22).

Summary

Properly handling, preparing, and storing foods for your baby will help prevent choking and possible foodborne illnesses. Do your best to keep mealtimes fun and relaxed, and let your baby take the lead on how much to eat.

With so many exciting changes and challenges that come with parenting, thinking about and preparing healthy meals and snacks for your 9-month-old baby can feel overwhelming.

By planning ahead and having some go-to meal ideas, you’ll be able to throw together a healthy, balanced plate for your little one in less time.

Preparing some food ahead of time and making your own meal baby-friendly will help save time and the stress of putting together more than one meal.

While 9-month-olds can eat most of the foods you eat, some foods should be avoided, including honey, salt, added sugars, and undercooked or unpasteurized foods.

Properly handling, cooking, and storing your baby’s food will significantly decrease the risk of them experiencing a foodborne illness. Be sure to cut your little one’s food into safe shapes and offer appropriate textures to reduce their choking risk.