Most babies begin eating table foods at around 1 year of age. However, it is important that they eat the right table foods. Remember that it is less important that your child eats all the right things than that he doesn’t eat too much of the wrong things. A varied diet offering foods from each of the basic 4 food groups is the best assurance of optimal nutrition.
Offer breads that are whole-grain or enriched such as whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel. Use barley, buckwheat (kasha), corn meal, oatmeal, pasta, rice, and wheat. Unsweetened dry breakfast cereals may be included but not to the exclusion of whole-grain or infant cereals.
Encourage poultry, veal, fish (remove the bones),and legumes such as chick peas, lentils, and dry beans. Limit red meats (pork, beef, lamb) trimmed of fat, to no more than three servings per week. Peanut butter is a good protein food and may be offered occasionally instead of meat. Restrict the number of eggs to 3-4 per week.
Offer a citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit, tangerine) or a glass of citrus juice daily. Avoid juice or fruit drinks with added sugar. Offer fruits often at snack time and as a dessert. Include at least one serving per day of a bright yellow- or orange-colored vegetable (tomato, sweet potato, carrot, yellow squash, beets, etc.) and at least one of a leafy green vegetable (spinach, escarole, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) Fresh vegetables are best and may be offered raw, or cooked but still crunchy. Potatoes should be served boiled, mashed, or baked not fried. Add low-fat milk and diet margarine or cottage cheese for added flavor.
Milk and milk products: Limit milk to two to three glasses per day. Use only low-fat or skim milk. Offer yogurt and low-fat cheese as snacks.
Your pediatrician should be able to tell you when your child is old enough to eat only table foods.
Dr. Alvin Eden is chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at Cornell University Medical Center. Dr. Eden has authored several books including “Positive Parenting” and “Healthy Kids”.