Feeding your baby

When, what, why, where & how much should your baby eat?


I know you are going to take such good care of me! During my first few months of life, remember…

  • Breastmilk is best for me!
  • Feed me only breastmilk or formula for the first four months.
  • My tummy is not ready for anything else, including cereal.
  • My wet and dirty diapers are one of the best signs that I am getting enough. I should have about 6-8 wet diapers each day after the first week.
  • Please hold me during feedings. Propping a bottle can increase my risk of choking, and ear infections.

Just in case you are wondering how much to feed me…

  • I am not like any other baby. My appetite will vary from day to day. Follow my hunger cues to know when and how much to feed me. Don’t get upset if I spit up. Spit up is very common for babies, especially during the first few months of life! As long as I am gaining weight and don’t seem uncomfortable with eating, there is probably nothing to worry about.Talk to my doctor if you are concerned.
  • If you nurse me, I will nurse 8 or even 12 times each day.
  • If you give me formula, I will probably drink about 18-36 ounces each day.
    • My tummy is pretty small so I will probably not eat a lot at one time.
    • Offer me 2 ounces of formula every 2 to 3 hours in my first week of life.
    • By the time I am 4 months old, I will take about 26 to 36 ounces per day.
    • Remember to burp be 1/2 way through feeding and after feeding.


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until I am 6 months of age. But formula will also work just fine. Most babies are ready for solid food when they are 5 to 6 months old.

I will be ready for solid foods when I can…

  • Sit supported with good head and neck control • Open my mouth when I see a spoon
  • Keep food in my mouth and swallow it

Even though I am starting solids, I still need my mom’s milk or formula.

  • If I am nursing, you will need to nurse me 6 to 8 times each day.
  • If I am drinking formula, I will need about 30-45 ounces each day.

Now that I’m ready for some food…

  • Please give me plain rice cereal at first. Rice is the least likely of the grains to cause an allergic reaction.
  • At first, mix 1 tablespoon of cereal with 4-5 tablespoons of breastmilk or formula. The mixture should be very thin, like milk. In the beginning, just dip the tip of the spoon into the cereal and place in my mouth. I may not eat much the first few times but don’t give up on me.
  • Over the next couple of months, work up to 1-2 tablespoons per feeding and thicken the mixture by adding less breastmilk or formula.
  • Next try barley and oatmeal cereals.
  • Please be patient with me! I will probably refuse new foods the first few times and make BIG messes!


I am ready to explore new foods.

Cereal sure is yummy, but I am ready to try something new! Please offer me new foods when I can…

  • Sit with some help
  • Begin to chew thicker foods and solids
  • Hold a bottle or cup with one or both of my hands

As I start to take more solid foods, I still need my mom’s milk or formula!

  • I am now very good at nursing, so I may finish quickly and nurse fewer times per day (about 4 to 6 times each day).
  • If I am drinking formula, I will probably drink about 24-32 ounces each day.

As for foods…

  • It is time to start teaching me to drink from a sippy cup. Begin to offer me a small amount of breastmilk, formula, or water in a sippy cup.
  • I am ready to try plain, single-ingredient foods such as pureed or strained meats, vegetables, or fruits. Dinners and desserts often contain added sugar and salt that I do not need.
  • Foods should be smooth and runny in texture. As I get used to the solid foods, make the mixture thicker and lumpier. Give me only one new food at a time. Wait 3 to 5 days between new foods and watch for possible allergic reactions.


  • Always wash your hands and my hands before feeding me.
  • Please clean my gums and teeth with a clean cloth or infant toothbrush after eating.


I am ready for the dinner table.

  • It’s not much fun to eat by myself. I’m ready to join the family for meals. Please bring me to the table when I can… Grasp and hold onto things

I still need my mom’s milk or formula!

  • If you are nursing me, I will continue to nurse about 4 to 6 times each day.
  • If I am drinking formula, I will drink about 24-32 ounces each day.
  • Offer me breastmilk, formula, or water from a sippy cup.

Offer me the following foods:

  • strained or pureed meats
  • pureed or mashed cooked beans • cottage cheese
  • plain yogurt
  • mashed fruits and vegetables – Try avocado. I’ll probably LOVE it!

I am still too young for many solid foods because certain foods can cause me to choke or have an allergic reaction. Do not give me the following during my first year of life:

  • honey or foods made with honey
  • cow’s milk
  • orange juice
  • egg whites
  • chunks of peanut butter • strawberries or grapes
  • hot dogs or sausages
  • nuts, seeds, or popcorn • raw vegetables
  • fish or shellfish
  • hard candy
  • chewing gum
  • marshmallows
  • corn syrup


I can feed myself.

I am so excited about using my hands to eat! Please let me try eating with my hands when I can…

  • Take a bite of food
  • Pick up finger foods and feed myself
  • Use a cup

I would like to try some of these finger foods:

  • Cheerios
  • Small pieces of mild cheese
  • Small pieces of soft, cooked, peeled fruits and vegetables
  • Toasted bread squares, unsalted crackers, or small pieces of soft tortilla
  • Pastas, Rice, Couscous…

Even though I have started eating some solid foods, I still need my mom’s milk or formula!

  • If you are nursing me, I should nurse 4 to 6 times each day.
  • If I am drinking formula, I will drink 24-32 ounces each day.
  • Offer me breastmilk, formula, or water from a cup.

You can also offer me…

  • Mixed grain cereal
  • Fruits and cooked vegetables, mashed with a fork
  • Cooked plain rice and noodles, mashed or chopped
  • Small pieces of cooked ground meat or chicken; remove all bones and tough parts


Do not add sugar, salt, or spices to my food. Feed me during scheduled meal times to establish a routine. Do not force or bribe me to eat. I will be more likely to eat and try new foods if I am not force-fed.


I’m really getting the hang of eating and drinking.

It’s hard to believe, but I am no longer a baby!  I am now able to:

  • Chew and swallow soft, mashed, and chopped foods
  • Use a sippy cup
  • Feed self finger foods
  • Start to use a spoon

As I begin to eat more solid foods and drink from a sippy cup, I can be weaned from the bottle.

  • If I am nursing, I will continue to nurse 4 to 6 times  each day.
  • If I drink formula, I will drink 24-32 ounces each day. Offer me formula in a sippy cup more often than in a bottle.

There are so many great foods I can eat! Offer me small pieces of cooked or soft foods that the family eats:

  • Cereals,breads,crackers
  • Fruits and cooked vegetables
  • Cooked soft meats
  • Cooked beans and lentils
  • Casseroles

I am excited about eating! Please let me feed myself with a spoon or my hands. I am ready to use the bottle less and the cup more often. Give me a small cup of breastmilk, formula, or water with my meals. Wait until I am 1 year old to give me cow’s milk.

About the Author

Jenni Rice - Owner & Director

I hope you like this post. I love helping parents, teachers and children learn, grow and become better people! Everyday I'm delighted to spend my day in the place I love with the people I love. If you don't know me already, please read my Teacher Feature. | G+