Nutrition for infants2018-12-11T07:34:25+00:00

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 breastfeeding.

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.

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, intolerance or malabsorption.

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.
  • Licks of peanut butter, almond butter, and other nut butters are now recommended to decrease the risk of nut allergy once a child is 6 months.  Be sure to observe your infant after the first feeding nut butters to watch for sudden hive-like rashes, vomiting, or other symptoms of rare allergic reactions.  If a parent or sibling has a nut allergy, do NOT feed your infant nuts until you speak to your pediatrician.

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 Breastmilk or formula On demand

6-8 times a day: 2-5 oz for a newborn

4-6 times a day: 6-8 oz 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 Breast milk or formula On demand nursing or 3-5 6-8 oz bottles daily
Grain Baby Cereal

Bread

Crackers

2 tbsp 2-3 x daily

1/4 slice 2 x daily

2 crackers 2 x daily

Avoid salty, fatty crackers
Fruits/vegetables Cooked pureed vegetables

Mashed bananas

Finely chopped soft fruits

Hand-held strainer containing juicy fruits

2 tbsp 2-3 x daily 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

Protein Peanut butter/nut butter 1 t Be sure to observe your infant after the first feeding nut butters to watch for sudden hive-like rashes, vomiting, or other symptoms of rare allergic reactions. If a parent or sibling has a nut allergy, do NOT feed your infant nuts until you speak to your pediatrician.
9-12 months Dairy Breast milk or

Formula

Yogurt or cheese

On demand or 3 6-8 oz bottles or cups

1-2 tbsp 2 x daily

Increase solid intake and milk consumption should decrease starting now
Grain Infant cereal

Bread

Crackers

Pasta or rice

2-4 tbsp 2-3 x daily

1/4 slice 2-3 x daily

2-3 crackers 2-3 x daily

2-4 tbsp daily

Babies may refuse cereal due to taste preferences. Add other iron sources instead
Fruits/vegetables Chopped cooked veggies 2-4 tbsp 2-3 x daily Practice more coarse textures now, but watch your baby when she eats to assure she doesn’t choke
Meats/proteins 2-4 tbsp 2 x daily Chopped cooked chicken or pork

Cooked beans

Tofu

Avoid fish, shellfish until age 1

Avoid peanut and nut butters until at least age 1

Desserts/treats NO NO Sweet tooths aren’t meant for babies
1-2 years Dairy Breast milk

2% Milk

Cheese

Yogurt

On demand

No more than 24 oz daily

2tbsp 1-2 x daily

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

Grain Bread

Rice

Pasta

1/4 cup 3-4 x daily
Fruits/vegetables Fresh or cooked
All types of fruits and vegetables
1/4 – 1/2 cup 4-6 x daily 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!

Meats/proteins Beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, tofu 2-4 oz daily
Desserts/treats Ice cream, cookies, chips, etc. Maybe one a day Treats should be just that – not a staple of your diet
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