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Infant Feeding Guide for the First Year

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Feeding your baby during the first year of life is important. Proportionately, more growth occurs during the first year than at any other time in your child's life. Failure to start a variety of healthy foods at the proper time may affect your infant’s growth and development. Good eating habits start early in order to help set healthy eating patterns for life.

Recommended Feeding Guide for the First Year

0-6 months

Do not start solid foods unless you are advised to do so by your child’s doctor. When your child is able to sit without help and grab things to put in his mouth, usually around 4-5 months, it is time to introduce solid foods.

  • Breast milk or infant formula gives your baby all that he/she needs to grow.
  • Your baby is not physically ready to eat solid foods due to a reflex that enables him to swallow only liquid foods. The reflex causes the infant to automatically push solid food out of his mouth with his tongue.
  • Feeding your baby solid food too early may lead to overfeeding and excessive weight gain.
  • As a general rule, solid foods do not help babies sleep through the night.
  • Healthy infants usually require little or no extra water, except in very hot weather.
Guide for Formula Feeding (Age 0-6 months)
AgeAmount Per FeedingNumber of Feedings in 24 Hours
1 week - 1 month2 - 4 ounces7-8 times
1-3 months5-6 ounces5-7 times
3-6 months6-8 ounces4-6 times

6 - 12 months

As an infant reaches 4 – 6 months of age, nutrient needs become greater than human milk or formula can provide. Supplemental food will need to be introduced to satisfy your infant's appetite and for growth. Two indicators that your infant is ready for solid foods include the ability to hold his head up without support and disappearance of the reflex that causes him/her to automatically push solid food out of his mouth. Commercial infant rice cereal is generally recommended as an infant’s first food, as it is easy to digest, high in iron and an unlikely allergen.

Feeding Tips:

  • Begin with infant rice cereal first, followed by vegetables, fruits, and meats.
  • Give your baby one new food at a time - not mixtures. Give the new food for 3-5 days before adding another new food. Adding new foods individually and gradually is important so that symptoms of an allergy or food intolerance (skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, or wheezing) can be easily identified and the offending food avoided.
  • Begin with small amounts of new solid foods - a teaspoon at first and slowly increase to a tablespoon.
  • Do not use salt or sugar when making homemade infant foods. Canned foods may contain large amounts of salt and sugar and should not be used for baby food. Always wash and peel fruits and vegetables and remove seeds or pits. Take special care with fruits and vegetables that come into contact with the ground as they may contain botulism spores that can cause food poisoning.
  • Infant cereals with iron should be fed until the infant is eighteen months old.
  • Whole cow's milk should not be added to the diet until the infant is twelve months of age. Cow's milk does not provide enough nutrients for your baby. Early introduction of cow’s milk is associated with an increased risk of milk protein allergy, poor growth, and iron deficiency.
  • Children under one year old should not be given reduced fat diets.
  • Fruit juice without sugar can be started after 6 months, when the baby is able to drink from a cup. Limit fruit juice to 4 ounces per day or less.
  • Feed all food with a spoon. Your baby needs to learn to eat from a spoon. Do not use an infant feeder. Only formula and water should go in a bottle.
  • Do not use honey in any form for the first year because honey has bacteria spores that can cause infant botulism.
  • Do not put your baby in bed with a bottle propped in his mouth. Propping the bottle is linked to choking, ear infections, and tooth decay.
  • Help your baby to give up the bottle by his first birthday.
  • Do not force your child to eat all the food on his plate when he is not hungry. Forcing a child to eat teaches them to eat just because the food is there and can lead to excessive weight gain. Expect a smaller and pickier appetite as the infant’s growth rate slows around one year of age.
  • Infants and young children should not eat the following foods which may cause them to choke:
    • hot dogs
    • nuts or seeds
    • round candies
    • popcorn
    • hard or raw fruits and vegetables
    • grapes
    • peanut butter.
    Most doctors suggest that the foods in the list above should not be offered to children until they are at least three or four years of age. Always watch young children while they eat. Insist that your children sit down to eat or drink.
Feeding Guide for the First Year (Age 4-12 months)
Item 4-6 Months 7 Months 8 Months 9 Months 10-12 Months
Formula6-7 oz. per feeding/ 5-6 feedings per day7-8 oz. per feeding/ 4-5 feedings per day7-8 oz. per feeding/ 4-5 feedings per day7-8 oz. per feeding/ 4 feedings per day 8 oz. per feeding/ 3-4 feedings per day
Dry Infant Cereal with Iron3-5 tablespoons single grain iron fortified cereal mixed with formula 3-5 tablespoons single grain iron fortified cereal mixed with formula 5-9 tablespoons single grain cereal mixed with formula 6-12 tablespoons any variety mixed with formula5-6 tablespoons any variety mixed with formula per day
Fruits 1-2 tablespoons, plain, strained/ 2-3 feedings per day9-18 tablespoons (1-2 jars), strained or soft mashed/ per day9-18 tablespoons (1-2 jars), strained or soft mashed/ per day ½ to ¾ cup mashed or strained, cooked/ per day
Vegetables 1-2 tablespoons, plain, strained/3 times per day9-18 tablespoons (1-2 jars), mashed, soft, bite-sized pieces9-18 tablespoons, (1-2 jars) mashed, soft, bite-sized pieces ¼ to ½ cup well-cooked, mashed/ per day
Meats and Proteins Foods 1-2 tablespoons, strained/ 2 feedings per day1-2 tablespoons, strained/ 2 feedings per day2 oz. well-cooked, soft or ground table meat/ 2 feedings per day½ to 1 oz. finely chopped, table meats, fish without bones, mild cheese/ 2 feedings per day
Juice, Vitamin C Fortified 2-4 oz. from a cup2-4 oz. from a cup2-4 oz. from a cup2-4 oz. from a cup
Starches    ½ to ¾ cup mashed potatoes, macaroni, spaghetti, bread/ per day
Snacks Arrowroot cookies, toast, crackersArrowroot cookies, toast, crackers, zwieback, plain yogurt  Arrowroot cookies, assorted finger foods, cookies, toast, crackers, plain yogurt, cooked green beans Arrowroot cookies, assorted finger foods, cookies, toast, crackers, plain yogurt, cooked green beans, cottage cheese, ice cream, pudding, dry cereal 
DevelopmentalMake first cereal feedings very soupy and thicken slowly. Start finger foods and cup. Formula intake decreases; solid foods in diet increase. Eating more table foods. Make sure diet has good variety. Baby may change to table food. Baby will feed himself/herself, use a spoon, and cup. 

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 08/2011

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