Many new parents wonder how often they should feed the baby or when their baby will start eating solid foods or when they will be off the bottle. It is easy to get confused with all the information available and all the marketing geared towards parents of babies. Every child is different, and these issues should be discussed with your pediatrician before you try any type of solid food with your baby. However, by looking at the following guidelines, you can get an idea of your child’s feeding timeline.
First Three Months
Breast milk or formula is the only nourishment your baby will need in the first three months. Breastfed babies will eat anywhere from eight to twelve time per day at two to three hour intervals. Formula fed babies will eat about two to three ounces of formula six to eight times per day at three to four hour intervals. As you can see, babies eat a lot during this time, but they ONLY need breast milk or formula.
Four to Six Months
While babies four to six months old will still do perfectly fine on breast milk or formula alone, you may see an interest in food start to appear. Babies who are ready to try food will follow your spoon to your mouth or may even reach for food. Start with single grain cereal mixed with formula or breast milk. After your baby is accustomed to cereal, you may add one pureed vegetable or fruit at a time. It is suggested that you try one food only for a period of three to five days. If you notice any type of reaction, discontinue that food. Offer your baby a wide variety of foods. The more you offer your baby now, the better chance they will have of liking many varieties of fruits and vegetables as they get older.
Six to Nine Months
At six months, you can also start to add pureed meat to your child’s menu of cereal, fruits and vegetables. Your baby may even start to refuse cereal in favor of these more flavorful foods. At six to nine months you can start to give your baby finger foods. You may also notice they have started taking less formula or breast milk as they begin to eat more solid foods and finger foods.
Ten to Twelve Months
By ten to twelve months babies are only taking formula or breast milk about four times per day. They are fully involved in eating solid food and meat as well as some table food. Be careful with table food that your baby is not getting a lot of added sodium or preservatives. Your baby is well on the way to becoming a toddler and moving on to whole milk and regular food.
Remember to consult your pediatrician before beginning solid foods with your baby. Learning your child’s feeding timeline will help you make the best choices when it comes to feeding your baby.