Parents, especially first-time parents, often set specific rules about what to feed their children and how much to give them at each stage of their first year. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for all babies. While this may seem frustrating, it’s actually a good thing.
Babies are born listeningーーand responding to their body’s signals. Your baby may follow an average schedule for when to start solid foods and progress. Or you may have a child who wants to start later or slower.
“Normal” is a range. These general guidelines may be helpful, but it’s more important to focus on your own baby’s needs. If you have questions, be sure to ask your pediatrician.
Newborns breastfeed about eight to 12 times a day, around the clockーevery two to three hours. Once they get the hang of breastfeeding and gain weight, they may be able to reduce the number of feedings to about 8 per day.
The expected number of breastfeeding sessions per day is as follows:
7 to 8 times a day for 3 to 4 months old babies
5 to 7 times a day for 5 to 6 month olds
4 to 6 times a day for 7 to 12 months old
After 12 months of age, until the infant and the breastfeeding mother are ready to wean, 3 to 4 times a day
Also, breastfeeding infants may want to be cared for more frequently during growth spurts. The American Academy of Pediatrics WHO recommends that “breastfeeding should continue for at least the first year of life and longer, as long as both mother and child desire.” If a breastfed infant is weaned before 12 months of age, the infant should be given an iron-fortified infant formula.
In the book, Your Baby’s First Year, the American Academy of Pediatrics says: “Most babies are fed 3 to 4 ounces of milk at a time for the first month and increase by 1 ounce each month until they reach 8 ounces.” This means a two-month-old baby may drink four to five ounces of infant formula at a time.
Some infants never reach eight ounces, though, at most at five to six ounces of feedings. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides another guideline on infant formula, suggesting that “on average, your baby should consume about 2.5 ounces of formula per day, which is equivalent to 1 pound of body weight.” So for a two-month-old baby weighing 12 pounds, this is equivalent to 30 ounces per day.
Number of bottles per day
Average infant drinking :
4 to 6 bottles of formula per day until they reach 6 months of age
3 to 5 bottles of formula for infants 7 to 9 months old
3 to 4 bottles of formula for infants 10 to 12 months of age
16 to 24 ounces of whole milk per day with meals when they are 12 months old
Cereals and baby food
Do you have to start with cereal? Does the order of fruits or vegetables matter? How much food should infants be eating at six, seven or nine months?
Once you decide it’s time to start solids (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends about six months of age), you can use baby cereal, or you can go directly into vegetables and fruits through purees or infant-directed feeding.
If you do choose baby cereal, experts usually recommend offering a mixed variety of cereals, not just rice cereal, as the first food you give your baby. Always spoon feed cereal instead of feeding it from a bottle.
Consume only one to two teaspoons of cereal at a time; your baby may consume three to four tablespoons of cereal once or twice a day. Vary the source of the cereal (oats, barley, wheat, rice) so that your baby doesn’t get the same cereal all the time.
You can start other types of baby food at any time, which is a great way to introduce babies to a wider range of tastes. There’s no reason to eat vegetables before fruit (a common misconception), and it’s important to expose your baby to many different flavors.
You can start with mild-tasting vegetables and fruits, but don’t assume what your baby likes or dislikes. Remember, they may need to try a flavor several times to enjoy it. Remember, all flavors are new to them! As with cereal, start with a few teaspoons and work your way up to three to four teaspoons, once or twice a day.
Daily food amounts
It’s normal for babies to have their preferences change from day to day. If you are concerned about your baby’s intake, consult your pediatrician or registered dietitian. In general, most infants eat :
4 to 6 months: 3 to 4 tablespoons of cereal per day and 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetables and fruits per day
7 months: 3 to 4 tablespoons of cereal once a day, 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetables and fruit twice a day, 1 to 2 tablespoons of meat and protein once a day
8 to 12 months: 4 to 8 tablespoons of cereal once a day, 2 to 4 tablespoons of vegetables and fruits twice a day, 1 to 3 tablespoons of meat and protein twice a day
As babies get older, they go through the classic baby food stages and steps, starting with saucy, single-ingredient baby foods and gradually moving to more palatable foods.
Finger foods and table foods
If you start giving your baby gumbo, this will be an exciting time to introduce them to finger foods. Babies can share many of the same foods with you and your family, but they need to be properly seasoned, cut and cooked.
Use salt sparingly or not at all, and take care that the texture and shape of the food offered does not cause choking. By eight to nine months of age, infants are skilled at grasping food and bringing it to their mouths. They are likely to enjoy their food.
Watch your baby carefully as you offer very small pieces of finger foods to avoid the risk of choking, such as whole grapes, raisins, raw vegetables, and large pieces of cheese
It is also important to understand infant CPR guidelines. Good finger foods include:
Chopped hard-boiled eggs
Baby cereal puffs
Cubed, cooked chicken, meat and fish
Diced cooked vegetables
Diced pasteurized cheese
A small piece of whole wheat bread
Slices of ripe fruit
Baked o-shaped cereal
Once your child has mastered eating finger foods, you may introduce a small utensil along with a mixed dish to their meals. You can also start yogurt at this age.
At the end of the first year or the beginning of the second year, your baby may be eating foods that the rest of the family eats.
Vitamins your baby needs
Babies can get most of the vitamins they need from the foods they need:
Iron from breast milk, iron-fortified infant formula, cereals and other iron-rich foods
Fluoride from drinking fluoridated water (most brands of bottled water are not fluoridated)
Vitamin d from infant formula; exclusively breastfed infants need vitamin d supplements
Foods to avoid when an infant is one year old
Just as important as knowing when to start eating each food is knowing which foods to avoid. Until your baby is one year old, avoid the following foods completely:
Risk of choking
Milk (associated with iron deficiency anemia)
Honey (risk of botulism)
Raw or undercooked eggs, meat or fish