Feeding Your Baby
GENERAL PRINCIPLE – Feeding your baby solid food is an option that is recommended to supplement formula or breastfeeding at about four months of age. This age is chosen because may authorities believe that the swallowing mechanism for solid food in children does not full develop until approximately three to four months of age. Unless you are directed to do so by your doctor, we do not recommend cereal or other baby foods in a bottle. Other reasons for not initiating solid food earlier than three to four months are that some authorities believe early introduction of solid food can lead to food allergy and possibly obesity. Remember, formula and breast milk form the bulk of your baby’s calories and nutritional intake for most of the first year of life, so types and quantities of solid foods are not critical in the first year of life. The introduction of solid foods should be fun and non-stressful for parent and child.
Four to Six Months of Age
Around this age many babies are ready to initiate solid food feedings. At this point they are generally taking around 32 oz of breast milk or formula per day. When starting solid foods it is recommended to begin with rice cereal just three to four tsp a couple of times a day. Many folks will wish to begin the solid foods at a time of the day when the feeding would otherwise correspond to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nursing moms may wish to nurse one breast first, then start to spoon the solid foods, then when no longer desired, return to the other breast. For the formula fed baby, a few ounces of formula to take the edge off their hunger, then followed by the solid foods and returning to the remainder of their bottle. The objective it not to add feedings but rather to incorporate the solid foods into existing feedings. Once you have given cereal two to three times a day, for several weeks, you may wish to introduce other foods beginning with the easiest to digest, yellow vegetables, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots. Perhaps three to six tsp twice a day with about six tsp of rice cereal. Remember, when introducing new foods, it is recommended that one new food be given every two to three days. This way if the child develops a reaction, ie rash, diarrhea, vomiting, it will be easy to pinpoint which of the foods introduced has caused this. After initiating yellow and green vegetables, you may wish to begin fruit and it is generally recommended to stay within the framework of the first stage foods for the next two months. You may notice over this span of time a decline in the total amount of nursing or ounces or taken per day if formula feeding. The typical baby may decline to 20-24 oz per day of liquid intake during this time. This is to be expected. If your baby does not seem to be interested in solid foods at first, don’t panic. Many babies are not ready for solid foods or not desirous of them for several months. Remember that formula and breast milk are complete food sources and not required parts of the diet for at least the first six months.
Six to Nine Months of Age
During this time, babies’ quantity of solid foods may increase. By nine months, they may be taking ½ cup of cereal, six to twelve tsp of fruit, and six to twelve tsp of vegetables per day. After seven to eight months, it is recommended to begin meat-containing foods. This is due to the fact that meat is a little more difficult to digest for babies than fruits or vegetables. After six months of age, you may wish to begin second stage foods, which are a little more textured than first stage foods and contain some combination foods. You may wish also to introduce a little bit of juice. Remember, juice is not a required part of the diet and it is generally recommended up to four oz of juice be taken a day.
Nine to Twelve Months of Age
At this time, babies’ total intake of liquid may reduce to 16-20 oz a day. You should be introducing the sippy cup and begin attempting to make the transition from bottle to cup. You may continue to give up to four oz a day of juice and in addition to third stage baby foods, you may introduce some table foods. A typical baby may eat ½ cup of cereal in the AM, perhaps ½ – ¾ of a jar of fruit, vegetable and/or meat at a given meal as well as some table food offerings. You may be able to give most table foods that can be mashed to a pureed appearance. Avoid any foods which have a solid texture to them, with the exception of such easily dissolvable foods such as Cheerios. Foods such as seafood, nuts, peanut butter, eggs and citrus fruits are best left until after a year of age due to their allergenic potential and remember no honey is recommended for the first year of life. At one year of age it is recommended to make the transition from bottle to cup if you are formula feeding. Obviously, you may continue to breastfeed for as long into the second year as you wish. The typical child at this age will take approximately 12-16 oz of milk a day and perhaps 4-6 oz of juice as desired. At a year of age, you should make the attempt to transition from bottle to cup. Typically a baby will like the taste of whole milk over formula and this is a perfect opportunity for you to make the transition from bottle to cup. If you only give the child the cup with milk, they will learn to prefer the cup as well. Whether you make a slow transition from bottle to cup and formula to milk or go “cold turkey”, this is up to your preference.
Twelve to Twenty-Four Months
At this time your child may have a variety of table foods from each of the food groups. At this time your child will typically taking three meals a day as an adult would. It is recommended that you avoid whole nuts, raisins, raw fruit, hot dogs cut into coins as these would be consider choking hazards. It there is a strong family history of allergy, you may wish to defer such foods as eggs and peanut butter until two years of age. We would suggest that you discuss this with your doctor at the child’s one-year checkup. Remember, children develop differently. Some children take to solid foods quickly and readily and others will take longer to handle extra textured foods as time goes on. Be patient and don’t worry, food should be fun. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor at your child’s well visits.