Infant Feeding Guide for Birth to Year One
For a parent, it can be quite challenging to learn about feeding infants through their ever changing first year of life. In the time span of 1 year, babies go from drinking only breast milk or formula and to eventually eating all food groups for three meals a day and two snacks. But just how do you get to that point?
Feeding an Infant
At birth, you should either feed your baby breast milk or formula. You can tell if your newborn is getting enough to eat if they are having at least 6-10 wet diapers daily. A general rule is that your baby should have 2-3 ounces of breast milk or formula for every pound of body weight. Your baby does not need any solid foods at this time and they should eat about every 2-3 hours.
Feeding a 4-6 Month Baby
Starting at 4- 6 months of age, you should start to incorporate rice or oatmeal cereal your child’s diet. They should eat 1-2 tablespoons of cereal twice daily. Start by making cereal very thin and gradually make the cereal thicker until it is normal oatmeal consistency. Your child should still drink 6-8 ounces of formula or breast milk 4-5 times per day. During this time, you may also add light colored baby foods to their diet such as apples, pears or squash. Stick to feeding your child one new food per week.
Feeding a 6-8 Month Baby
At 6-8 months of age, your baby should eat 6-8 ounces of breast milk or formula 3-5 times daily. You should continue to feed them cereal, but increase it to 2-4 tablespoons daily. Also, begin feeding your child about 2-3 tablespoons of 2-4 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Feeding a 8-12 Month Baby
By the time your baby is 8-12 months old, he or she should drink about the same amount of breast milk or formula, but you may remove one of their breast milk or formula feedings and replace it with solid foods. At this point, you should start to incorporate all food groups into their diet. You may give your baby dairy, such as yogurt or cottage cheese, 1-2 times daily. They should continue to eat grains such as baby cereal, but may prefer other grains like crackers or bread. Your baby can start eating more textured foods as they get more and more teeth. You should make sure they have 3-4 tablespoons of fruits or vegetables 3-4 times daily and 3-4 tablespoons of meat 1-2 times per day. Do not give your child whole milk until they are 12 months old.
Remember no two kids are alike. Some will follow these guides exactly while other babies may not follow them at all. Hopefully, this guide will help you navigate through your child’s rapidly changing appetite and nutrient requirements during their first year of life.