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Feeding Your Baby

Breastfeeding Goals

Nutrition during the first year of your baby's life is important for proper growth and development. Babies are also developing oral and motor skills. It is necessary to feed your infant based on his or her feeding skills and developmental age. Here are some suggestions to help you feed your baby.

How often should I feed my baby?

Babies know when they are hungry or full. Feed your baby every time he or she is hungry. Breast-fed infants should breast feed 8-12 times a day, approximately 10-15 minutes per breast at each feed. Formula-fed infants should be fed 6-10 times a day. As your baby starts eating solid foods, he or she will drink less. Slowly increase the amount of solid food you offer and decrease the amount of breast milk or formula.

How do I know when my baby is hungry or full?

Some general signs that your baby is hungry include:

  • Fussing or crying
  • Grabbing for or leaning toward breast or bottle
  • Pointing at spoon, food, or feeder's hand
  • Moving hands to mouth and sucking his or her own hands

Some signs your baby has had enough to eat include:

  • Pulling away from bottle, spoon, or breast
  • Falling asleep
  • Changing position, shaking head, keeping mouth closed tightly, moving hands actively
  • Handing food back to the feeder

How do I know when my baby is ready for solid food?

Generally, babies are ready to start solid foods between four and six months. However, every baby develops differently, so here are signs to look for to know your baby is developmentally ready:

  • Baby can sit upright with little or no support.
  • When lying on the tummy, baby pushes up on arms with straight elbows.
  • Baby is hungry for more nutrition after 8 to 10 breast feedings or 32 ounces of formula.
  • Baby shows interest in what you are eating.
  • Baby can move food from the front to the back of his or her mouth.
Guidelines for Feeding Your Baby:
  1. Start with ½ spoonful or less of each food. Increase the food gradually to 1-2 spoonfuls, advancing slowly over several days. The goal for initial feeding is 4 ounces (1 small jar) of strained baby food per meal.
  2. Always introduce one new "single-ingredient" food at a time. Wait 3-5 days until introducing another new food to assess for possible allergic reactions, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash. If any reaction occurs, stop feeding the new food and call your pediatrician.
  3. Start with infant cereal or baby food meats.
  4. Meats and vegetables contain more nutrients per serving than fruits or cereals.
  5. Four ounces of 100% pasteurized fruit juice should be started in a sippy cup once the baby turns 7 months old.
  6. When your baby is 9-12 months, slowly decrease mashed/baby foods and offer more finger foods.
  7. Most infants should eat 3-6 times a day (3 meals and 2-3 snacks).
  8. Good foods for your baby include foods rich in energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals, such as meat/poultry/fish and colorful fruits and vegetables.

Foods to avoid:

  • Spicy, salty, and sugary foods
  • Foods that may cause choking, like:
    • nuts, seeds, popcorn
    • chips, pretzels
    • raw carrots
    • raisins, whole grapes
    • hot dog pieces
    • Do not give your baby honey.

Additional tips:

  • Don't warm baby's bottle or food in the microwave, as it can burn the baby's throat or mouth. Instead, warm bottles in a pan of warm water or under a stream of warm tap water. Shake the bottle after warming to be sure the milk or food is heated evenly.
  • Always feed your baby in an upright position with a spoon.
  • Don't let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. The milk collects in the baby's mouth and may cause tooth decay and choking, and can lead to ear infections.
  • You should not give your baby solid foods in a bottle. This may cause choking or overeating, and it may slow your baby's development of feeding skills.
  • Foods that cause common food allergies should not be added until your baby has turned 1 year old. These foods include: soy, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and milk. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
  • Be patient when offering new foods, as it may take 8-15 times to increase acceptance.
Sample Meal Plan (6-9 months)

Breakfast

4-6 tablespoons Stage 1 bananas
2-3 tablespoons iron-fortified baby cereal
4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Snack

1-2 ounces 100% apple juice in a sippy cup (7-9 months)

Lunch

1-3 tablespoons Stage 2 chicken
4-6 tablespoons Stage 1 peaches
4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Snack

4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Dinner

1-3 tablespoons Stage 2 beef
2-3 tablespoons Stage 1 green beans
4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula
2-3 tablespoons iron-fortified baby cereal

Snack

6-8 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Sample Meal Plan (9-12 months)

Breakfast

¼ cup banana
3 tablespoons iron-fortified baby cereal
4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Snack

1 graham cracker
1-2 ounces 100% apple juice in a cup

Lunch

2-4 tablespoons cooked carrots
2-4 tablespoons chopped peaches
4 ounces yogurt
4-6 ounces breast milk or  iron-fortified formula

Snack

2-3 tablespoons chopped pears
4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Dinner

1-2 tablespoons chopped chicken
2-4 tablespoons mashed potatoes
2-4 tablespoons green beans
4-6 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

Snack

3 tablespoons iron-fortified baby cereal
6-8 ounces breast milk or iron-fortified formula

For any additional questions, set up an appointment with a registered dietitian today.

References

Pediatric Manual of Clinical Dietetics. 2nd ed. The Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association.

Pediatric Nutrition Handbook. 6th ed. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Infant and young child feeding: Model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals. World Health Organization 2009.

Committee on Nutrition from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics. Pediatrics Vol 107, pg 1210-1213. 2001

www.aap.org/publiced/BR_Solids.htm

For any additional questions, set up an appointment with a registered dietitian today!

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/1/2009…#9693