For the first few months, breast milk or formula is all that is needed. As your baby grows, starting a variety of healthful foods at the proper time is important for proper growth and development.
How much formula does my baby need?
The following guide should cover your baby’s formula needs for the first five months.
|Age||Amount per feeding||Number of feedings per 24 hours|
|1 month||2 to 4 ounces||six to eight times|
|2 months||5 to 6 ounces||five to six times|
|3 to 5 months||6 to 7 ounces||five to six times|
When can I start my baby on solid foods?
Solid foods shouldn’t be started before your baby is 4 months old unless your baby's physician advises you to do so.
- Breast milk or formula provides your baby all the nutrients your baby needs to grow.
- Your baby is not physically developed enough to eat solid food from a spoon.
- Starting your baby on solid food too early increases the chance that he or she may develop a food allergy.
- Feeding your baby solid food too early may lead to overfeeding and being overweight.
- As a general rule, solid foods do not help babies sleep through the night.
Once your baby does start eating solid foods, here are some tips for making feeding time easier for you and your child:
- When starting solid foods, give your baby one new food at a time. Don’t give mixtures (like cereal and fruit). Give your baby the same food for five to seven days before adding another new food. This way, you can tell what foods your baby may be allergic to or can’t tolerate.
- Egg whites are more likely than yolks to cause an allergic reaction. Most physicians recommend that you wait a year to introduce whole eggs.
- Begin with small amounts of new solid foods: a teaspoon at first and slowly increase to a tablespoon.
- If the first solid foods are dry infant cereals, mix as directed. Once your baby adjusts to these, you can introduce vegetables and then fruits. Once she tolerates fruits and vegetables, then introduce meats.
- Don’t use salt or sugar when making homemade baby 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.
- Iron-fortified infant cereals should be fed until your baby is 18 months old.
- Cow's milk shouldn’t be added to your baby’s diet until she is 1 year old, as it doesn’t provide the right nutrients for your baby.
- Fruit juice without sugar can be started when your baby is able to drink from a cup (around 6 months or older). Don’t give juice in a bottle, since it may cause tooth decay.
- Your baby needs to learn to eat from a spoon. Don’t use a bottle for foods. Only formula and water should go into a bottle.
- Avoid honey in any form for the first year because it can cause a type of botulism.
- Don’t put your baby in bed with a bottle propped in his or her mouth. Propping the bottle is linked to ear infections and choking. Once your baby has teeth, propping the bottle can cause tooth decay.
- Your baby's physician can advise you how to wean a baby off the bottle.
- Forcing your child to eat all the food on her plate even when she is not hungry is not a good habit. Children should learn to eat according to their hunger cues. Expect a smaller and pickier appetite as your baby's growth rate slows—around the time she is 1 year old.
- 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.