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Home > Nutrition > Nutrition for infants

Nutrition for infants

Babies are hungry beings. But for first-time parents, knowing what to feed your child is often a mystery. Breastmilk or formula will be your baby's primary source of nutrition during her first year of life. After six months, your baby will be ready to eat solid foods, as well. Here, you will find information on vitamins, dos and don'ts of feeding your child and serving suggestions for recommended foods. For more information on formula and breastfeeding, go to our special section on .

0-6 months

  • Offer only breastmilk or iron-fortified infant formula (about six feedings daily; 24 to 32 oz per day if you are using formula).
  • Start vitamins by 2 months of age to ensure your child is receiving enough vitamin D.
  • Some babies may be ready for rice cereal or oatmeal between 4 and 6 months if they have good head control, show interest in your food, and are able to swallow cereal easily.

Reasons to delay feeding solid foods until 6 months:

  • Infants are not ready for textures and may choke easily on solids.
  • Infants cannot signal when they are full and this can lead to excessive weight gain.
  • By avoiding solids that your child's intestines are not yet equipped to digest, you lower your child's risk of developing food allergies.

6-9 months

  • Continue 4 to 6 feedings of breastmilk daily (24 to 32 oz formula). At this age, breastmilk or formula is your child's major source of nutrition.
  • Add 4 Tbsp of infant cereal daily.
  • Start vegetables and fruits, about 1 Tbsp daily at first and increasing to 4 to 5 Tbsp once or twice a day.
  • Breastfed babies need multi-vitamins with fluoride; babies fed formula need fluoride only.
  • Vitamin D: 400iU daily is necessary if your baby is breastfed or taking less than 32 oz of formula a day.
  • Avoid juice. It's like soda for babies, just needless calories and sugar.

9-12 months

  • Continue 3 to 4 feedings of breastmilk daily (24 to 32 oz formula).
  • Offer vegetables and fruits three times, daily.
  • Add more protein-containing foods, such as well-cooked, strained, or ground plain meats or commercially jarred "meals" containing meats.
  • Offer finger foods and soft foods from the table such as pasta, cooked vegetables and dry cereals.
  • Avoid leaving a child unattended while eating, due to the possibility of choking.

What is a serving size and how many servings of each food group should I offer my child?

Age Food Group Examples Daily Servings Comments
0-6 Months Dairy Breast milk or formula On demand

6-8 times a day: 2-5 oz for a new born

4-6 times a day: 6-8 ox for a 6 month baby
-Don’t start solids before 6 months

-Use only iron-fortified formulas, as low-iron formulas put baby at risk for anemia
6-8 months
Dairy
Grain
Fruit/vegetables
Breast milk or formula
Baby cereal

Bread

Crackers
Cooked pureed vegetables

Mashed bananas

Finely chopped soft fruits

Hand-held strainer containing juicy fruits
On demand nursing or 3-5 6-8 oz bottles daily
2 tbsp 2-3 x daily

¼ slice 2 x daily

2 crackers 2 x daily
2 tbsp 2-3 x daily
spacer
Avoid salty, fatty crackers
Avoid juice, a source of empty calories and carbs

Feed softer textures to younger infants and work up to lumpier textures over the next 2-3 months
9-12 months
Dairy
Grain
Fruits/vegetables
Meats/proteins
Desserts
Breast milk or

Formula

Yogurt or cheese
Infant cereal

Bread

Crackers

Pasta or rice
Chopped cooked veggies
Chopped cooked chicken or pork

Cooked beans

Tofu
NO
On demand or 3 6-8 oz bottles or cups 1-2 tbsp 2 x daily
2-4 tbsp 2-3 x daily

¼ slice 2-3 x daily

2-3 crackers 2-3 x daily

2-4 tbsp daily
2-4 tbsp 2-3 x daily
2-4 tbsp 2 x daily
NO
Increase solid intake and milk consumption should decrease starting now
-Babies may refuse cereal due to taste preferences. Add other iron sources instead
Practice more coarse textures now, but watch your baby when she eats to assure she doesn’t choke
Avoid fish, shellfish until age 1

Avoid peanut and nut butters until at least age 1
Sweet tooths aren’t meant for babies
1-2 years
Dairy
Grain
Fruits/vegetables
Meats/proteins
Desserts/treats
Breast milk

2% Milk

Cheese

Yogurt
Bread

Rice

Pasta
Fresh or cooked
All types of fruits and vegetables
Beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, tofu
Ice cream, cookies, chips, etc.
On demand

No more than 24 oz daily

2tbsp 1-2 x daily
¼ cup 3-4 x daily
¼ - ½ cup 4-6 x daily
2-4 oz daily
Maybe one a day
-Milk in excess will fill a toddler’s tummy and make them less likely to try new foods

-Whole milk is reserved for children who are underweight
-Emphasize this food group

-Serve colorful, varied choices

-Don’t hide the fruits and vegetables under dips and sauces

-Eat them yourself, too ---set a good example!
-Treats should be just that – not a staple of your diet