One of the main concerns for parents is their child's diet. "What do I feed the baby? When can I start solid foods? Is my child eating enough? What foods are restricted for my child?"
Here is a guide to help you answer some of those questions. (Keep in mind this is meant to be only a guide. Do not stress out if your child doesn't eat the amounts or the items suggested. Always follow your child's cues on food readiness. Do not coax or force your child to eat.)
The guide is broken down by age group for your convenience.
Birth to 4 months
During this period of time, your baby's sole source of nutrition is either breast milk or infant formula. We do not recommend starting any solids until about 4 months. We do not recommend giving juices until 6 months. Water can be introduced at about 3-4 months.
Breastfed babies will feed every 2-3 hrs initially, and usually a feed will last about 20-30 minutes. You will know your baby is feeding enough if he or she is producing at least 4-5 wet diapers a day and at least 2 stools a day. Babies will feed every 3-4 hours at night time. By the time they are 4 months old, they should be sleeping about 6-7 hours between feeds at night.
Babies fed infant formulas usually will feed every 3-4 hours during the day. During the first 2 weeks, babies will eat on average 1-2 oz at a time. By the end of the first month they eat about 4 oz at a time. By 2 months, increase to 6 oz per feed, and by 4 months, about 6-8 oz per feed. By 4 months, most babies are drinking about 32 oz in 24 hrs.
4 to 6 months
By this time most babies are ready for solid foods. Some of the signs of readiness are:
- Baby can hold head up well
- No head lag when pulled up by arms
- Can move food from the front to the back of the mouth
- Is showing some interest in food
Start with rice cereal. 1 tablespoon of dry cereal and add about 1 oz of breast milk or formula to it. Give it once a day for about 3-4 days. Once baby is used to spoon-feeding increase the cereal to 2-3 tablespoons twice a day. Still offer formula after the cereal but give less than a normal feed would be.
Give rice for about 2 weeks then try oatmeal for about 1 week. If baby tolerates cereal fine then add vegetables first and then fruit. The vegetable order should be yellow orange green.
Give the same food for about 4-5 days to make sure baby tolerates the food fine. The first day give small amount, 1 tablespoon and then slowly increase up to the whole stage 1 jar.
Look out for any rashes, projectile vomiting or explosive diarrhea. They would be signs of feeding intolerance.
When you do all the main vegetables then add the fruit as a third meal. Again do only one new fruit at a time and switch every 4-5 days.
6 to 8 months
At this time your baby should be eating 2-3 times a day.
He should be drinking between 20-24 oz of breast milk or formula per day, as well as cereal, strained vegetables and fruit.
8 to 10 months
Signs of readiness for table and finger food:
- Is developing the pincer grasp
- Is transferring objects from one hand to another
- Puts everything in the mouth
- Moves jaw in a chewing motion
Some examples of finger foods: small pieces of ripe banana, cheerios, lightly toasted bread, teething biscuits, well cooked spiral pasta.
At this age you may also introduce table foods as long as they are not very spicy or heavily seasoned. Some examples are: mashed potatoes, well-cooked and mashed beans, soups, pasta, egg yolk, and yogurt.
10 - 12 months
At this age you may increase the variety and texture of the table foods. Your baby should still be drinking either breast milk or formula. The amount usually averages about 20 oz a day.
- Soft pasteurized cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese
- Bite size, soft cooked vegetables like peas and carrots
- Combo foods (macaroni and cheese)
- Egg yolk boiled or scrambled
- Crackers, toast, pasta
Foods you should not introduce until after a year of age: egg whites, honey, fresh berries.
Foods you should not introduce until after two years of age: peanut butter, shell fish.
Foods you should not introduce until after four years of age: popcorn, hard candy, nuts, and gum
12 to 18 months
At this age your baby can start eating what the rest of the family is eating. Encourage your child to start using a spoon herself.
After one year you may also switch to whole milk instead of breast milk or formula.
How much per day:
- 2 to 3 servings dairy (1 serving= 1/2 cup of milk, 1 oz of cheese, 1/2 cup of yogurt or cottage cheese)
- 4 to 6 servings of cereal and other grains (1 serving = 1/3 cup of cereal, 1/4 cup of pasta or rice, 1/2 slice of bread or bagel)
- 1/2 cup of fruit a day
- 1/2 cup of vegetables
- 2 servings of protein (1 serving = 2 tablespoons of ground meat, two 1 inch cubes meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg, 1/4 cup beans, 1 tablespoon peanut butter)
18 to 24 months
Your child will start communicating more about food choices at this point. Phrases like "more" or "all done" will also emerge.
How much per day:
-2 to 3 servings of dairy -dairy (1 serving= 1/2 cup of milk, 1 oz of cheese, 1/2 cup of yogurt or cottage cheese) -6 servings of grains (1 serving = 1/3 cup of cereal, 1/4 cup of pasta or rice, 1/2 slice of bread or bagel) -2 to 3 servings of fruit (1 serving = 1/4 cup cooked or canned fruit, 1/2 piece fresh, 1/4 to 1/2 cup fruit juice) -2 to 3 servings of vegetables (1 serving = 1-2 tablespoons)
-2 servings of protein (1 serving = 2 tablespoons of ground meat, two 1 inch cubes meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg, 1/4 cup beans, 1 tablespoon peanut butter)