Making appropriate food choices for your baby during the first year of life is very important. More growth occurs during the first year than at any other time in your child's life. It's important to feed your baby a variety of healthy foods at the proper time. Starting good eating habits at this early stage will help set healthy eating patterns for life.
Don't give solid foods unless your child's healthcare provider advises you to do so. Solid foods should not be started before age 6 months because:
Breast milk or formula provides your baby all the nutrients that are needed for growth.
Your baby isn't physically developed enough to eat solid food from a spoon.
Feeding your baby solid food too early may lead to overfeeding and being overweight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants, children, and adolescents take in enough vitamin D through supplements, formula, or cow's milk to prevent complications from deficiency of this vitamin. In November 2008, the AAP updated its recommendations for daily intake of vitamin D for healthy infants, children, and adolescents. It's now recommended that the minimum intake of vitamin D for these groups should be 400 IU per day, starting soon after birth. Your baby's healthcare provider can recommend the proper type and amount of vitamin D supplement for your baby.
These are some things to consider when feeding your baby:
When starting solid foods, give your baby one new food at a time — not mixtures (like cereal and fruit or meat dinners). Give the new food for 3 to 5 days before adding another new food. This way you can tell what foods your baby may be allergic to or can't tolerate.
Start with small amounts of new solid foods — a teaspoon at first and slowly increase to a tablespoon.
Start with dry infant rice cereal first, mixed as directed, followed by vegetables, fruits, and then meats.
Don't use salt or sugar when making homemade infant foods. Canned foods may contain large amounts of salt and sugar and shouldn't 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. They may contain botulism spores that cause food poisoning.
Infant cereals with iron should be given to your infant until your infant is age 18 months.
Cow's milk shouldn't be added to the diet until your baby is age 1. Cow's milk doesn't provide the proper nutrients for your baby.
The AAP recommends not giving fruit juices to infants younger than 1 year old. Only pasteurized, 100% fruit juices (without added sugar) may be given to older babies and children, but should be limited to 4 ounces a day. Dilute the juice with water and offer it in a cup with a meal.
Feed all food with a spoon. Your baby needs to learn to eat from a spoon. Don't use an infant feeder. Only formula and water should go into the bottle.
Don't give your child honey in any form for your child's first year. It can cause infant botulism.
Don't put your baby in bed with a bottle propped in his or her mouth. Propping a bottle has been linked to an increased risk for ear infections. Once your baby's teeth are present, propping the bottle can also cause tooth decay. There is also a risk of choking.
Help your baby to give up the bottle by his or her first birthday.
Don't make your child "clean the plate." Forcing your child to eat all the food on his or her plate even when he or she isn't hungry isn't a good habit. It teaches your child to eat just because the food is there, not because he or she is hungry. Expect a smaller and pickier appetite as the baby's growth rate slows around age 1.
Babies and young children shouldn't eat hot dogs, nuts, seeds, round candies, popcorn, hard, raw fruits and vegetables, grapes, or peanut butter. These foods aren't safe and may cause your child to choke. Many healthcare providers suggest these foods be saved until after your child is age 3 or 4. Always watch a young child while he or she is eating. Insist that the child sit down to eat or drink.
Healthy babies usually require little or no extra water, except in very hot weather. When solid food is first fed to your baby, extra water is often needed.
Don't limit your baby's food choices to the ones you like. Offering a wide variety of foods early will pave the way for good eating habits later.
Don't restrict fat and cholesterol in the diets of very young children, unless advised by your child's healthcare provider. Children need calories, fat, and cholesterol for the development of their brains and nervous systems, and for general growth.
4 to 6 months
Breastfeeding or formula
4 to 6 feedings per day or 28 to 32 ounces per day
3 to 5 feedings per day or 30 to 32 ounces per day
Dry infant cereal with iron
3 to 5 tbs. single grain iron fortified cereal mixed with formula
5 to 8 tbs. single grain cereal mixed with formula
1 to 2 tbs., plain, strained/1 to 2 times per day
2 to 3 tbs., plain, strained/2 times per day
2 to 3 tbs., strained or soft mashed/2 times per day
2 to 3 tbs., strained, mashed, soft/2 times per day
Meats and protein foods
1 to 2 tbs., strained/2 times per day
Arrowroot cookies, toast, crackers
Arrowroot cookies, toast, crackers, plain yogurt
Make first cereal feedings very soupy and thicken slowly.
Start finger foods and cup.
Formula intake decreases; solid foods in diet increase.
10 to 12 months
3 to 4 feedings per day or 24 to 30 ounces per day
5 to 8tbs. any variety mixed with formula
5 to 8 tbs. any variety mixed with formula per day
2 to 4 tbs., strained or soft mashed/2 times per day
2 to 4 tbs., mashed or strained, cooked/2 times per day
2 to 4 tbs., mashed, soft, bite-sized pieces/2 times per day
2 to 3 tbs. of tender, chopped/2 times per day
2 to 3 tbs., finely chopped, table meats, fish without bones, mild cheese/2 times per day
1/4-1/2 cup mashed potatoes, macaroni, spaghetti, bread/2 times per day
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
Eating more table foods. Make sure diet has good variety.
Baby may change to table food. Baby will feed himself or herself and use a spoon and cup.