Birth to Four Months of Age
During the first four to six months of life, infants need only breast milk or formula to meet all their nutritional needs.
If breastfeeding, a newborn may need to nurse eight to twelve times per day (every two to four hours), or on demand. By four months, the baby is likely to cut back to four to six times per day, but, the quantity of breast milk consumed at each feeding will increase.
Formula-fed babies may need to eat about six to eight times per day. Start with two to five ounces of formula per feeding (for a total of 16 – 35 ounces per day). As with breastfeeding, the number of feedings will decrease as the baby gets older. The amount of formula will increase to approximately six to eight ounces per feeding.
Although an infant may sleep through the night, waking to feed may be necessary if the infant is not eating enough during the day or if they are underweight. Routine check-ups with your physician to monitor your child’s growth will ensure they are eating adequately during the day. Your doctor or dietitian will inform you if waking to feed is recommended.
Four to Six Months of Age
At four to six months of age, an infant should be consuming 28 – 45 ounces of formula and is often ready to start the transition to solid foods. Starting solids too soon may cause the infant to choke if they are not physically ready.
There are several developmental milestones to indicate an infant is ready to eat solid foods:
- Birth weight has doubled
- When your baby has good control of head and neck
- The infant can sit up with some support
- Your baby can show fullness by turning the head
- Your baby begins showing interest in food away or by not opening the mouth when others are eating.
Start solid feedings with iron-fortified baby rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula to a thin consistency. The cereal may be mixed to a thicker consistency as the baby learns to control it in his mouth.
Initially, offer cereal two times per day in servings of one or two tablespoons (dry amount, before mixing with formula or breast milk). Gradually increase to three or four tablespoons of cereal.
Once the baby is eating rice cereal routinely, you may introduce other iron-fortified instant cereals. Only introduce one new cereal per week so you can watch for an intolerance or allergy.
Six to Eight Months of Age
Continue to offer breast milk or formula three-five times per day. After a baby has tried a variety of different baby cereals, try strained fruits and vegetables.
Start with plain vegetables such as green peas, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, beets; and plain fruits such as bananas, applesauce, apricots, pears, peaches, and melon.
Some dietitians recommend the introduction of a few vegetables before fruits as the fruit’s sweetness may make a less sweet food such as vegetables less appealing. Give fruits and vegetables in two-three tablespoon servings and offer about four servings per day.
Soft cooked vegetables, washed and peeled fruits, graham crackers, melba toast, noodles are good finger foods, but salted and/or sugared foods are not recommended. Teething foods, such as toast strips, unsalted crackers, bagels, and teething biscuits may also be introduced at this time.
Eight to Twelve Months of Age
At eight to twelve months of age, a baby will be ready to try strained or finely chopped meats.
Offer only one new meat per week in three to four tablespoon servings — use strained and finely ground meats, frankfurters, or meat sticks. Serving sizes for fruits and vegetables increases to three to four tablespoons, four times per day. You may give eggs 3-4 times per week, but only the yolk until the baby is 1 year old, as some babies are sensitive to egg whites.