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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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|
|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
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
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|
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
|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
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
|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|