Top 5 Favorite Foods for 8-Month-Olds

Here is a list of some favorite foods for 8-month-olds (plus recipe ideas!), when your little one is well on his or her way in their baby-led weaning journey.

Title graphic for Top 5 Favorite Foods for 8-Month-Olds

You’ve made it to 8 months in your baby-led weaning journey, your little one has had his or her first tastes of solid food, and you’re ready to start introducing some new and exciting flavors. If you haven’t introduced them already, here is a list of five great foods to offer your baby at this stage, with tips on how to prepare each one.

Read on for more!

#1 WATERMELON

Slices of fresh watermelon are a great food for 8-month-olds!

Watermelon is a great, soft fruit to introduce at 8 months. It’s easy for your little one to hold on to (albeit messy) and does not require any teeth to chew. Just be sure to keep an eye on your babe when he or she is eating it, though, as it is something they can choke on if they get too excited to eat it and don’t chew it properly. When Raia experienced this with watermelon once or twice, a simple sweep of my finger in her mouth got the troublesome piece out with no issue. To minimize the chance of choking, simply cut the watermelon in long, skinny strips so the risk of is even lower. Also, be sure you buy seedless!

#2 ZUCCHINI

One zucchini partially sliced on a cutting board with a chef's knife in the background. Zucchini is a great vegetable for baby-led weaning!

I’ve mentioned this in other roundups, but zucchini has always been (and continues to be) one of Raia’s favorite foods. When first introducing her to it, I peeled it and cut it into strips before seasoning with olive oil and garlic powder and roasting in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Once she got a little older, I started leaving the skin on, and once she got even older I started cutting the zucchini into discs. Now I alternate between the oven roasting method and a pan-frying method where I sauté the discs in herbed garlic butter. If you struggle with getting your little one to eat just plain zucchini, mix it into something fun like pancakes! I have a great zucchini pancake in my book 30 Freezer-Friendly Recipes for Babies and Toddlers.

#3 SWEET POTATO

Sweet Potato Zucchini Blender muffins are sure to be a hit with your 8-month-old.

Sweet potato can also easily be started as early as 6 months, because it can be peeled and roasted soft enough for toothless eaters to get down safely. My progression for preparing sweet potato was quite similar to that of zucchini – peeled strips first, then strips leaving the skin on, then discs. I almost always just roast these in a 400-450 degree oven with olive oil and spices for about 20 minutes. Some of my favorite spices to pair with sweet potatoes are cinnamon, nutmeg and curry powder. And if you’re looking to mix it up, you can find a tasty recipe for Sweet Potato Zucchini Blender Muffins here!

#4 MUFFINS

Okay, I’ve already mentioned them above but I’m including muffins in my recommendations for more than one age group because they have been SUCH a hit with my daughter. There are tons of great recipes for healthy, baby-friendly muffins out there. Some of my favorites include these Beet and Oat Banana Muffins from Inspiralized and my own Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins. They’re a great portable snack to have on hand in the freezer that can be ready at a moment’s notice. There are also endless options of healthy fruits and veggies you can mix into the batter!

#5 SMOOTHIES

A messy-faced toddler smiling after enjoying a smoothie bowl. Smoothie bowl are a great part of meal prep!

Once your little one has learned to drink out of something other than a bottle, it’s great to start introducing healthy smoothies (with very little sugar added, of course). Nourish Move Love has a great post on how to make smoothies that are baby-friendly. I find these are another great way to sneak in hidden nutrients like veggies!

And there you have it! ICYMI, I’ve been recapping my favorite foods at many different ages. If your little one is younger than 8 months, you can check out my 6-month favorites here. As you continue on your baby-led weaning journey, be sure to check out my 9-month, 10-month, 12-month and 18-month favorites as well!

How to Implement a Baby or Toddler Meal Plan

I’m outlining my top five tips for implementing a meal plan for your baby or toddler to ensure they’re eating a nutritious, balanced diet – plus, I’m giving you an inside look at my toddler’s daily meal plan and a bonus video featuring the template I use to create all her meals!

Title graphic for How to Implement a Meal Plan for Your Baby or Toddler, with a photo of a baby looking on to a picnic of food.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how I make my little one balanced, nutritious meals on the regular – and, more importantly, how I make sure she eats them! Well, you’re in for a treat today, because I’m giving you a peek at my top tricks to implement a baby or toddler meal plan, along with suggestions, tips and tricks to get your little ones on the healthy meal train.

Tips for Feeding Babies and Toddlers

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of baby-led weaning, and many of these tips I’m about to give you are thanks to this method of introducing solids to your littles. If you’re getting ready to introduce solids to your little one, be sure to check for all of these signs that you’re baby is ready first, then – if you feel baby-led weaning is the way you want to go – I encourage you to read the book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett [*affiliate link].

Tip #1: Limit snacking

I’ll admit it: In times of desperation, snacking is SUCH a savior (airplane rides and road trips – I’m looking at you!) But in general, I really try to limit snacking with my little. I find that by not offering Raia food at every moment of the day, she is more likely to eat a good meal when it’s time for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Tip #2: Protein + veg + starch + dessert?

This is the basic format I use every time I make a meal for Raia. There’s always a protein and always a vegetable, usually a starch and sometimes fruit for dessert. There are occasions when I’ll add another vegetable or a legume instead of a starch, but this is the general template I use. We’re pretty liberal with giving Raia fruit for breakfast, and usually only give it to her for dessert at the other meals if she eats the majority of everything else.

When I’m thinking of how I’m going to compose a meal for my babe, I think of the colors of the rainbow and try to give her a good balance of each. This is also a great way to be sure you’re introducing your little to a wide variety of foods.

A picnic basket overflowing with fresh produce. Implementing a meal plan for your baby or toddler isn't complete without all types of fresh produce!

And YES, we do give Raia sweet treats every once in a while, but we tend to save them for special occasions. Although not always successful, we aim to give her sweets (if she’s having them) before 5pm or so, just so the sugar has some time to work through her system before bed.

Tip #2: Look at the week as a whole

As worried parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the fact that our babes are not eating very much of whatever they’ve been served. We spend all this time putting together a balanced meal, only to watch them pick at each thing or throw it all on the ground. This is where this tip comes in. Try to look at your little one’s diet as a whole throughout the course of a week, and judge their nutrient intake on that. A child is innately born with a survival instinct, and they will not go hungry!

A happy toddler snacking on roasted sweet potato in the back of a car...Having a toddler or baby meal plan in place makes healthy eating on the go even easier!

For example, Raia is a GREAT breakfast eater, an average lunch eater and a not-so-great dinner eater. So, we focus on getting her as many nutrients as we can for breakfast – when she seems to be hungriest – and we don’t worry so much if she barely touches her dinner.

Tip #3: Don’t offer alternatives

This is a biggie. I see it alllll the time. Your little one refuses to eat the chicken, broccoli, etc. you put in front of them, and in an act of desperation you run to the kitchen and whip up a grilled cheese because, hey, at least they’ll eat it. Well, my friends, I’m sorry to say but you’re just setting your child up for failure. Hold your ground and, as I mentioned in Tip #2, when your child is REALLY hungry, they’ll eat!

If you really can’t bring yourself to watch your child refuse to eat anything you serve them, I offer this additional tip: Always include ONE “slam dunk” food on your child’s plate. This is something you know your child will eat and, when they eat it, you’re welcome to give them more. That way you know they’ll eat something, but you’re not demonstrating that they can just refuse what they’re served and you’ll make them something else.

Tip #4 Get your little involved in the cooking process

I’m telling you now, your little one will be soooo much more likely to eat something if he or she gets involved in making it! For babes and toddlers that are upright and have good balance, a learning tower [*affiliate link] is a great way to get them involved in the kitchen. For smaller babes, just showing them what you’re doing as you’re preparing their food makes them curious and excited to give these foods a try.

Toddler and mommy having fun together. When it comes to meal prepping for your little one, get him or her involved!

Okay, so those are my five big tips that I see as crucial in getting your little one(s) to eat balanced, nutritious meals, so now it’s time to share my incredibly easy to follow Baby or Toddler Meal Plan. I know that every family’s daily schedules look drastically different, and that’s okay! Simply use this as a rough guideline for planning out your baby or toddler’s daily meals.

I’ve also put together a fun video showing how I compose each of Raia’s meals, which you can watch below.

Baby or Toddler Meal Plan

7:30am – 8am BREAKFAST

We tend to sit Raia down for breakfast with her morning milk fairly soon after she wakes. We found this was easier when transitioning her off breastfeeding/the bottle because it still gave her something to eat immediately upon waking. Typical breakfasts for her include:

  • Egg cup + peanut butter toast + banana + milk
  • Baked oatmeal + blueberries + milk
  • Chia pudding with fruit + avocado toast + milk

NOTE: Since breakfast tends to be Raia’s biggest meal, we usually skip a morning snack. However, if your child doesn’t eat such a big breakfast, you may want to offer a small, organized snack around 10:30 (a healthy pumpkin muffin, string cheese, etc.)

A toddler enjoying a breakfast of bananas and milk in her high chair. Breakfast is a very important part of implementing a baby or toddler meal plan!
#bedhead
12:00pm LUNCH

Although we strive for a 12pm lunch, we’ll sometimes make it sooner if Raia seems like she’ll need an early nap (we’re currently on just one nap a day). Typical lunches for her include:

  • Turkey and avocado sandwich on multigrain bread + string cheese
  • Grilled chicken + butternut squash zig zags + brown rice
  • Soup + broccoli + chicken sausage
3:30pm SNACK

This is just rough timing, but we usually give Raia her afternoon snack as soon as she wakes up from her nap. Snack usually consists of:

  • A vegetable/oat/banana-based muffin (see my cookbook for recipes!)
  • A toddler-friendly granola bar
  • A fruit- and veggie-packed popsicle

A happy toddler enjoying a lunch picnic on the grass. Picnics are a great thing to plan into your baby or toddler's meal plan!

6:00pm Dinner

Honestly, dinner usually looks a lot like lunch, I just try to mix and match the combos so she’s not always eating the same thing. We also give her her nighttime milk at this time. Here are some other balanced meal examples:

  • Tri tip + zucchini + ravioli + milk
  • Homemade rotisserie chicken + green beans + sweet potato + milk
  • Black bean burger (recipe in my cookbook!) + avocado + sliced tomato + milk

A toddler enjoying raw veggies sticks for dinner. Toddler meal planning is possible even when eating out!

See?? Soooo easy. And you can prep so much of this stuff ahead of time. I usually cook up two different veggies at once and store them in the fridge to mix and match with whatever protein we’ve cooked and eaten throughout the week. There’s really nothing to it, and once your kid gets used to delicious, balanced meals like this, they’re going to get more adventurous and curious about what you’re putting on their plate.

Question for you: Would you all have any interest in me offering more personal consultations when it comes to getting your baby or toddler to eat a balanced meal? What are some more pain points that I could help you solve? I want to help you, so please let me know! xoxo

When Is My Baby Ready to Start Solids?

These are some of the primary signs to look for when determining if your baby is ready to start eating solid foods.

A cute baby eating some of her first solid foods (and getting them all over her face) in her highchair.

**As with all of my posts related to baby-led weaning, I kindly remind you that I am sharing my experiences as a mother who has recently gone through this process and found great success in getting my little one to enjoy a wide variety of foods. I am sharing tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way in hopes that these posts will be another source of information you can gather from in the VAST array of research I’m sure you’re already doing to formulate whatever personal parenting style you choose to use with your children. I am not a doctor, registered dietitian or nutritionist and the information I provide should never take the place of or override that provided by these professionals. For more information on baby-led weaning, I urge you to read Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett [*affiliate link].

Okay, now that that’s all out of the way, I’m excited to share with you today three signs we looked for when deciding if our baby girl was ready to start on solid food.

Before I get to the list, though, I think it’s important that I give you a little background on our breastfeeding and formula journey (yes, we used both!)

A dad feeding his baby girl a bottle in a rocking chair.

OUR BREASTFEEDING (AND FORMULA) JOURNEY

I don’t think enough people get real about just how TOUGH breastfeeding is. Man, it is HARD WORK and something that requires intense concentration to get right, especially when you’ve suddenly had a tiny human thrust into your arms that you’re responsible for keeping alive. Lactation consultants are in high demand and it’s no wonder why. I am so grateful that my mom is a retired NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse and also happens to have a good friend who is a lactation consultant, otherwise I have no idea what I would have done!

My little one had a strong latch from the very first time we tried to breastfeed, and that was a primary reason for why the nurses encouraged me to use a nipple shield right away [*affiliate link]. They didn’t want her destroying me before I’d even had a chance to meet with a consultant!

I ended up continuing to use the shield for a couple of reasons as time went on (until about 4 months old) and, even though it was yet another thing to juggle when I was trying to stay somewhat decent breastfeeding in public, I got the hang of it and it turned into no big thanggggg.

Mama breastfeeding her baby in bed with a cup of coffee in hand.

Things were going well for a while, but around month 5 it seemed like baby girl just wasn’t satisfied after we’d finish a nursing session. And let me tell you, it wasn’t because I didn’t give her enough time…She was a suuuuper slow nurser and would always happily nurse for a solid 20 minutes each side.

I’m sure you can imagine if you’re a mom, but this was stressing me out, and I can bet that wasn’t helping with my supply. This was the time my mom recommended we start thinking about introducing some rice cereal, and after clearance from our doctor to do so, we tried it.

Now, my little one has always loved food, but even though she seemed INTERESTED in the small amounts of rice cereal I started feeding her, the majority of it was ending up everywhere EXCEPT her mouth, and it still seemed like she was hungry. This was when we made the decision to start introducing some formula, for a couple of reasons:

  1. I was finally able to convince myself of the fact that I shouldn’t let my pride about “exclusively breastfeeding” get in the way of my daughter’s happiness and wellbeing.
  2. I need to start thinking of MY wellbeing, too. Was forcing myself to exclusively breastfeed when it was becoming really stressful the best choice for me and my mental state? That was a big, fat NO.
  3. I would continue to breastfeed, but would give her formula to SUPPLEMENT. Then it was a win-win: she (and I) both continued to reap the benefits of breastfeeding, but I would be confident in the fact that she was getting the nutrients and calories she needed through formula.

If you are familiar with baby-led weaning, then you know that your babe’s calories from solids are not intended to take the place of his or her calories from formula/breastmilk until they are around one year old. Rather, solids are meant to be a fun exploration for your little one. If they eat what you serve, great! But don’t worry about them NOT eating because their primary source of calories and nutrients is still formula.

I ended up continuing to breastfeed in some way or another until Raia was 10 ½ months (we would have gone longer but I had a trip to go on and was SO over bringing my pump with me), at which point we weaned to straight formula until 12 months, when we introduced dairy milk. Her milk intake had steadily dwindled the more she got into food, so it was an easy transition and, looking back, I have no regrets.

A cute baby stripped down in a highchair enjoying some of her first solid foods.

I promise I’m about to get into the “signs to start solids,” but before I do so I want to leave you with this little nugget:

It’s so easy to get caught up in society’s idea of the “perfect” way to raise your child, whether it be through exclusively breastfeeding until at least 12 months or putting your child in full-time childcare (and a million other examples). I want you to absorb the societal noise – don’t ignore it – but then take a step back and look at YOU and your family. What is best for YOUR overall wellbeing? We can’t forget ourselves. Screw society. We need to take care of US just as much as we need to take care of our littles.

That all being said, here are the three main signs we saw that told us Raia was ready for solids – and the signs you may want to look for in your little as well:

#1 Sitting Up Unassisted

You want to make sure your little has enough strength to hold him- or herself in a position that they can safely consume solid foods. This is crucial with baby-led weaning as you move straight to solid solids – not purées – and you don’t want them to choke! You can tell if your baby is at this point by placing them in their highchair and seeing if they support themselves or lean forwards or backwards (or sideways) to help prop themselves up.

A baby sitting up unassisted to show she is ready to start exploring solid foods.

#2 Genuine Interest in What You’re Eating

I mean, this video kind of says it all. Am I right?

Those mouth noises just crack me up! It was pretty obvious to us when Raia was starting to have an interest in solid foods. We’re talking, mouth open, ready for us to drop something in as soon as we took a bite. Another common sign of this might be them reaching towards food. Every baby is different.

#3 Adequate Motor Control

You don’t have to worry so much about their oral dexterity (they will learn this through the baby-led weaning process – it’s why gagging happens) but you want to make sure they have the manual dexterity to at least pick up properly prepared “sticks” or other larger pieces of food. You may have heard about the gagging that is often associated with baby-led weaning, but if you read the book I recommend [*affiliate link] you’ll see why gagging is a perfectly normal part of baby’s oral motor skill development. You can also watch YouTube videos on it to learn what to look for and the difference between “gagging” and “choking.”

And there you have it! Short and sweet, but you can see these are all pretty significant landmarks to look out for.

Mom letting baby nibble on a whole apple.

I hope this is helpful for you, and I also hope you’ll reach out with any additional questions.

If your little has reached all of these milestones and you’re ready to embark on your solid foods journey, check out this other related post on what I recommend for baby’s first foods!

The Best Books to Read Before Baby

After reading quite a few books to prepare for our little one’s arrival, I made a list of some of my favorites. These Best Books to Read Before Baby were all lifesavers for us!

The most helpful books to read before baby arrives!
This post contains affiliate links.

Books are listed clockwise from top left corner.

If you know me, you know I love to travel, and I haven’t helped but noticed how different child-rearing is in other parts of the world. Bringing Up Bébé is an insightful look into how the French do it, in their own elegant, even-keeled fashion. #lifegoals for sure!

I didn’t have a strictly outlined “birth plan” going into labor, but I had a good idea of what I wanted. I wanted to give the whole natural birthing a shot, but wasn’t going to hold it against myself if I ended up wanting a little pain management. Even though I ended up getting an epidural, I was still so glad I had read Mindful Birthing (at the recommendation of the midwife in our group of OB/GYN’s.) Moral of the story – I don’t think it hurts any of us to be a little more mentally prepared for this crazy, life-changing event, no matter what birthing method we choose!

At first I was a bit hesitant to dive into The First 40 Days because, TBH, I thought it might be a little too “woo-woo” for me. But at the recommendation of my prenatal yoga instructor, I finally gave in and am so glad I did. Even though I didn’t follow the recommendations to a T, I tried to incorporate many of the principles they recommended, which rely heavily on ancient Chinese practices. If nothing else, there are some great recipes to get you through those first few months with a precious new babe in your life!

In case you’re overwhelmed by the thought of finishing SIX books before your baby arrives, this one can easily be put off for a few months. We chose to do Baby-Led Weaning with Raia (which we started when she turned 6 months old) and this book is basically the Holy Grail of this newer concept of introducing solids to your little one. We have been soooo happy with BLW, I highly recommend it!

I know this recommendation has the potential to stir up some controversy, but I stand strongly by it since it worked so well for us. We opted to follow The Sleep Easy Solution for sleep training based on the recommendation of some friends. Yes, it does involve some crying, but it is not full-blown cry-it-out (or CIO as they call it in mom world) and, YES, it works. Raia now sleeps 11-12 hours straight almost every night and is on a much better nap schedule than she ever was before we did sleep training. Method aside, what I love about this book is that it prepares you for EVERY sleep situation or roadblock you’re likely to face with your little one up until they are 5 years old. Yes, I still refer to it every once in a while for guidance and reassurance.

Last, but definitely not least, The Happiest Baby on the Block is one you’ll DEFINITELY want to get through before baby arrives. It talks a lot about those first few months after baby is born (which, let’s be honest, are TOUGH) and gives you great pointers on how to soothe your little one when they are still getting used to being “earthside.” And yes, this book is where we learned how much of a lifesaver a hairdryer can be in the most trying times!

And, there you have it – my list of the Best Books to Read Before Baby! It may seem overwhelming, but I promise many of these books are pretty quick reads.

As always, if I missed anything you highly recommend, please drop it in the comments below!

Here’s to all my mamas out there!

Essential Baby Products Months 6-12

A list of what we considered were the essential baby products for months 6-12. The perfect reference to start your baby registry or Christmas list!

A list of what we considered the essential baby products for our little one's months 6-12.
This post contains affiliate links.

I hope you’re ready for Part II of my roundup – what we consider to be the essential baby products for months 6-12!

I’m sure I accidentally left out something, but this list is comprised of the things I considered “must-haves” during those second six months of our little babe’s life, and now is the perfect time to make your purchases with so many great sales going on at the end of the week.

So, without further ado…

Items are listed clockwise from top left.

Raia is still getting comfortable using the walker part of this VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, but she loves the little activity panel. We feel safe with her on this one since our house is all one level with absolutely no stairs, but do use caution if you live somewhere that is multilevel!

These bibs are seriously the only bibs you’ll need once your little one moves on to solids. I love that they cover so much of them, can be wiped dry but are also machine-washable. Plus, can we talk about how cute all the designs are?

This swim seat was the hit of the summer. We don’t have a pool and didn’t want to run up our water bill with a kiddie pool, so I found this simple seat that takes hardly any water but is still a blast for the babes, even if they’re not completely sitting upright on their own yet. I highly recommend it!

Hands down the best decision we ever made in purchasing baby products was this $25 Ikea Antilop highchair. It’s not too big and clunky and so easy to clean. Nothing fancier needed.

Long story short, these Ezpz Mini Mats are the only plates you’ll need for your little once they start eating solid food. They’re dishwasher and microwave safe and – extra bonus – quite difficult for the littles to toss on the ground!

We were lucky to borrow a couple of friends’ bouncers to try with Raia, and she loved this one! It was a great step up from the bouncer chair and rock-and-play once she got too big for those, and is great for starting to build up those leg muscles.

Once Raia started rolling over, we transitioned her to these armless sleep sacks which we still use to this day. They’re not too restricting but still make them feel like they’ve got a little extra comfort.

I know there is a lot of controversy on the safety of walkers like this Joovy one, but again, we live in a one-story home with absolutely zero stairs and lots of open space, so we felt safe getting this for Raia to run around in. She loves it! I liked the Joovy one in particular because it was much simpler and had a lot less stuff going on than many of the other walkers out there. We couldn’t be happier with this choice.

In the same vein as not wanting a walker with too much “stuff” going on, I also didn’t want a play mat that was loud and obnoxious looking. I had been eyeing the Little Nomad mats but, honestly, they were a bit out of our price range. I was so excited to find this Emma + Ollie one for practically half the price and we love it! I’ve actually been thinking about investing in another one soon as Raia’s toys continue to take over our living room.

This Play & Kick Car Seat Toy was a lifesaver for long car rides with the babe once she stopped sleeping most of the way. She loved kicking it to make music and playing with the little toys hanging down. I’m so sad that she’s outgrown it a bit now because it was endless entertainment!

This VTech activity cube is just the type of toy I love – one that will entertain the babe for many, many months! It has a lot of fun stuff for the younger babes, but will also continue to challenge them as they get older. Very multi-purpose if you ask me.

And that’s all I have for you today! Be sure to check in tomorrow because I’ll be sharing what we considered to be the essential baby books to get us through the first year. 

Also, be sure to let me know if there are other products that you consider “baby essentials” in the comments below!