“What do I feed the baby?” There is not one perfect answer. Every baby is different, but feeding does not have to be complicated. Babies only need breast milk or formula for the first 4-6 months of life. There is normally no reason for “cereal” in the bottle, despite what friends and family may tell you. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. Once babies are 4-6 months old, they are usually ready to start solid food from a spoon. Below you will find some general guidelines for feeding your baby. Again, every baby is different and these tips are meant to help you along the way. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any feeding questions. Remember well visits are a great time to review feeding with our doctors and nurses! Relax, have fun, and don’t be afraid to get messy!
When can my baby begin solid foods?
The following are some guidelines from the AAP book Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Remember that each child’s readiness depends on his own rate of development.
• Can he hold his head up?
Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, feeding seat, or infant seat with good head control.
• Does he open his mouth when food comes his way?
Babies may be ready if they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem eager to be fed.
• Can he move food from a spoon into his throat?
If you offer a spoon of rice cereal and he pushes it out of his mouth and it dribbles onto his chin, he may not have the ability to move it to the back of his mouth to swallow it. It’s normal. Remember, he’s never had anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, and this may take some getting used to. Try diluting it the first few times, then gradually thicken the texture. You may also want to wait a week or two and try again.
• Is he big enough?
Generally, when infants double their birth weight (typically at about 4 months) and weigh about 13 pounds or more, they may be ready for solid foods.
Which food should I give my baby first?
The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends exclusively starting with cereal. If you choose to do so, cereal can be mixed with breast milk or formula. Start with a few tablespoons at first. Feed him until he looks away and is no longer interested. Initially solid feedings should be once daily. The time of day does not matter; feed your child at a time during the day when your household is calm. It is easier to learn new things in a calm environment. After a few weeks of once daily, feel free to move to 2 solid feedings a day, but not more. Most of the infant’s nutrition should still come from breast milk/formula at 4-6 months.
For most babies it does not matter what the first solid foods are. There is no medical evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage for your baby. Though many people will recommend starting vegetables before fruits, there is no evidence that your baby will develop a dislike for vegetables if fruit is given first. Babies are born with a preference for sweets, and the order of introducing foods does not change this.
When can my baby try other food?
Once your baby learns to eat one food, gradually give him other foods. Give your baby one new food at a time, and wait at least 2 to 3 days before starting another. After each new food, watch for any allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If any of these occur, stop using the new food and consult with the doctor.
Once you have introduced most foods, a good rule of thumb during the first year of life, is 2-4 tablespoons (1-2 ounces) of each kind of food per meal. If your child is still hungry after that amount, feed her more.
When can I give my baby finger foods?
Once your baby can sit up and bring her hands or other objects to her mouth, you can give her finger foods to help her learn to feed herself. To avoid choking, make sure anything you give your baby is soft, easy to swallow, and cut into small pieces. Some examples include:
• Small pieces of banana
• Wafer-type cookies or crackers
• Scrambled eggs
• Well-cooked pasta
• Well-cooked chicken finely chopped
• Well-cooked and cut up yellow squash, peas, and potatoes
At each of your baby’s daily meals, she should be eating about 4 ounces, or the amount in one small jar of strained baby food. Limit giving your baby foods that are made for adults. These foods often contain more salt and other preservatives.
If you want to give your baby fresh food, use a blender or food processor, or just mash softer foods with a fork. All fresh foods should be cooked with no added salt or seasoning. Though you can feed your baby raw bananas (mashed), most other fruits and vegetables should be cooked until they are soft. Refrigerate any food you do not use, and look for any signs of spoilage before giving it to your baby. Fresh foods are not bacteria-free, so they will spoil more quickly than food from a can or jar.
What foods should I avoid?
Honey should be avoided until age 1 year because of its link to infant botulism.
As far as allergenic foods (peanut butter, fish, eggs, etc.), there is some evidence to show that earlier introduction in life may be better. The AAP recommends that as long as there is no immediate family history of food allergies, these foods can be introduced after 6 months in appropriate form and texture. As always, only offer one new food every 3 days in order to identify a problem food if needed.
Avoid sweet foods and desserts in the first year of life, including chocolate.
General Feeding Chart
|Age||Breast milk or Formula||Grains||Vegetables||Fruits||Protein||Solid serving size|
|0-4 months||18 to 32 oz.||None||None||None||None||None|
|4-6 months||32 to 40 oz.||Infant Rice, Barley, Oat (iron-fortified)||Sweet potatoes, Squash, Green beans, etc.||Apples, avocado, bananas, pears, etc.||Pureed meat||1 to 2 feedings per day, 1-2 oz. per feeding|
|6-8 months||28 to 36 oz.||Infant cereals||Cooked vegetables||Strained or mashed fruits||Pureed meat||1 to 3 feedings per day, 2-4 oz. per feeding|
|8-10 months||20 to 30 oz.||Infant cereals, Cheerios, puffs||Cooked vegetables||Soft fruit pieces, no skins or seeds||Pureed or finely chopped meat, cooked beans, whole fat yogurt||3 meals a day, 2-3 items per meal|
|10-12 months||20 to 30 oz.>||Infant cereals, dry cereal, whole wheat bread, rice, pasta||Cooked vegetables||Soft fruit pieces, no skins or seeds||Small pieces chicken, lean meat, fish, yogurt, cheese||3 meals a day, 3 items at each meal|