As a parent, you want to get your baby off to the right start in life. Many parents worry about their children's health, especially with skyrocketing rates of obesity and other issues. Gaining knowledge about what and when to feed your baby can give you peace of mind. Your schedule will vary based on the age of your baby.
Infant Feeding Chart
Consult the following chart for basic information about feeding your baby.
0 to 1 month
1/2 to 1 oz.
Every 1-1/2 to 3 hours
2 to 4 months
4 to 6 oz.
Every 2 to 4 hours
4 to 6 months
5 to 8 oz.
Every 4 to 5 hours
|6 to 9 months|| Cereal: 1-3 tbs.
Fruit 1-2 tsp.
Formula or breast milk: 6 to 8 oz.
| Solids: 2 to 3 times per day
Liquids: Every 4 to 6 hours
|9 months to 1 year|| Grains: 1/4 to 1/2 cup per day
Fruit: 1/4 cup per day
Veg: 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per day
Protein: 3 tbs. to 1/2 cup per day
Dairy or breast milk: 7 to 8 oz
| Solids: 2 to 3 times per day
Liquids: Every 6 hours.
|1 to 2 years|| Dairy: 4 servings
Fruits: 3 servings
Veg: 2 servings
Grains: 6 servings
Protein: 2 servings
| 3 meals per day
2 snacks per day
Zero to Four Months
In the first four months of life, babies feed every few hours. Throughout the course of the day, you may feed your baby as many as twelve times. There is no recommended set schedule during this period of a baby's life. KidsHealth.org recommends feeding when the baby is hungry. Some key points to remember:
- Feed baby on an "on demand" schedule during this period of their lives. This will likely be about every 1-1/2 to 3 hours, which is about 8 to 12 times per 24 hour period.
- Breast fed babies will eat more frequently because breast milk digests more quickly.
- Feed only breast milk or formula. Do not introduce solid foods like rice cereal during this period.
- Newborns should never go more than four hours without food, even at night.
- Regular feeding is important to establish milk supply during breastfeeding.
Signs of Hunger
During the first four months, you will need to rely on your child's signals if you choose to feed on demand. Watch your baby for the following signs:
- Crying is a late sign of hunger. KidsHealth.org suggests offering breast milk or formula every two hours (from the time you started the last feeding).
- Sticking his or her tongue out
- Moving their head from side to side
- Making sucking faces like lip puckering
- Putting their hands to their mouths
Four to Six Months
Some physicians recommend adding solids, starting with rice cereal, at four months. The World Health Organization recommends delaying the introduction of solids until six months, so talk with your pediatrician. Other tips:
- If you begin to introduce solids during this period, do so gradually. Introduce a single food and watch baby closely for signs of allergies or reactions before introducing another.
- Babies should only be given puréed fruits or cereals at this time.
- Breast milk or formula should still be the main source of nutrition.
- While some mothers use rice cereal in formula to get baby to sleep through the night, babies still need to eat every 4-5 hours at this time, and should not go much longer than 6 without food, even at night.
Six to Nine Months
This is the age the World Health Organization recommends introducing solids into your baby's diet. Begin with cereals and puréed fruits, and monitor baby carefully for signs of allergies. Symptoms of allergies may include:
- Skin eruption
- Gastric distress
- Trouble breathing
Nine Months to a Year
At this age, your baby can begin sitting in a high chair and eating soft finger foods. Other tips:
- Continue to introduce foods gradually.
- This is a critical feeding time, because babies also begin to establish lifelong taste preferences. Because you want your child to have a healthy start in life, feed healthy, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Avoid foods like sugar, white flour, and fast food.
- Offer juice in a cup, not a bottle, and only give 3 to 4 oz of non-citrus juice per day (apple, pear, and grape).
1 to 2 Years
Your child's food choices will continue to expand during this time. Offer a balanced diet with a variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. Continue to monitor for signs of food allergies, and make sugary, processed, and fast foods sometimes snacks instead of everyday foods.
You may discover that certain months find your baby wanting to nibble all day long. Just when you think you are raising a little pig, she refuses to eat a meal or two. Babies have growth spurts when their bodies need more calories and nutrition. You should follow your baby's need. She'll let you know when she is hungry. Continue to offer her a variety of foods, but don't try to force her to eat more than she wants. Putting your baby on a feeding schedule can be trying at times, but you and your baby can also enjoy many mealtimes together.
Work with Your Healthcare Provider
All babies have unique needs. The best way to make sure your baby's nutritional needs are being met is by seeking regular well-care checkups and discussing any questions or concerns with your healthcare provider. By doing this and feeding your baby a nutritious diet, you will set your child up for a lifetime of good health.