Your baby will grow a lot during his or her first year! Here are some guidelines for what to feed your baby to keep him or her healthy through these big changes.
Bringing home a new baby can raise a lot of questions, like: Why is my baby crying? Is my baby getting the right amount of sleep? What should I feed my baby?
While every child is different, you can give your baby the nutrition he or she needs to stay healthy by paying attention to important cues and milestones.
What should you feed your newborn?
For about their first six months, babies only need to eat breast milk or formula. Their digestive systems, like the rest of their little bodies, are growing and changing. Solid foods—any food other than milk or formula—are too hard for them to process.
When should you feed your newborn?
When he or she is hungry. When your baby is hungry, he or she may open his or her mouth, suck on fingers, stick out his or her tongue, or cry. These signs of hunger are called hunger cues. All babies are different, and learning your baby’s hunger cues will make you better able to soothe your newborn.
How much should you feed your newborn?
This depends, and not only because some babies are hungrier than others! Most newborns need to eat two to four ounces of milk every two to three hours. Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues and health, and always ask your doctor if you need help deciding how much to feed your baby.
As your baby gets bigger, he or she will need to eat more. You may find that your baby needs to eat less often, but more at a time. Feed your baby every three to four hours, or as he or she becomes hungry. As your baby grows, he or she may start to eat as much as eight ounces at a time.
Continue to breastfeed or give your baby formula for up to a year, or longer. Both foods are full of important nutrients that will help keep your baby healthy and growing strong!
Your baby may be ready to start eating solid foods as early as five months old. This stage has its own set of cues. These cues may include having a bigger appetite, chewing, or looking or grabbing at your food.
When your baby is ready, start him or her on solid food by mixing one part infant cereal with three parts formula or breast milk.
Between six and eight months old, begin feeding your baby some blended fruits or vegetables.
At eight to 10 months old, add small pieces of meat, cheese, and egg yolk.
Add new foods one at a time and see how your baby reacts. If your baby throws up, gets a rash, or has diarrhea after trying something new, he or she may have an allergy. Do not give your baby foods that cause allergic reactions.
When your baby starts eating solids regularly, feed your baby three solid meals a day. Each meal should be about the size of his or her fist. Between nine and 12 months old, your baby can start eating more types of food, like pieces of crackers, bread, and pasta.
Do not feed your baby foods with added sugar or salt, egg whites, citrus fruits like oranges and kiwi, cow’s milk, nuts, peanut butter, or honey. These foods cause allergic reactions in many children.
Make sure that everything you feed your baby is in very small pieces. It is easy for children to choke on foods like raisins, grapes, raw carrots, popcorn, and hard candy.
Remember, no one knows your baby as well as you do. Learning how and what your baby likes to eat is part of getting to know your child. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or need more information.
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