What Should You Know About Feeding?

Every day, baby is growing so quickly! Their growth is powered by good nutrition and strong feeding abilities.

Feeding is more than just eating and drinking—it is also an important period of muscle development so baby can chew, swallow and digest their food. Baby will go through many stages of feeding development, but all of them are important to their growth!

Feeding Basics

What is feeding?

Feeding looks different at every age for baby and young children, but it is the intake of nutrition that helps us grow, develop and thrive. Most babies begin life by breast or bottle feeding, and slowly build up to solid foods.

What do stages of feeding look like?

There are various feeding milestones baby will meet throughout the first 18 months. These stages help baby slowly build up to solid foods. So while they begin by consuming breastmilk or formula, baby typically graduates to purees around 4-6 months, and small solids shortly after.

How often should baby feed?

That really depends on the age, but it’s always best to try and maintain a regular feeding schedule. At a very young age, baby feeds often, in smaller quantities. Newborns typically feed every 1-3 hours (8-12 times per day), consuming about 2-3 ounces of breastmilk or formula per feeding. As baby grows, they can go longer between feedings.

Learn more about what feeding looks like at 0-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-9 months, 10-12 months, and older.

How do you know when your baby is ready for the next stage of feeding?

By following their feeding milestones (see below) and consulting with their healthcare provider. Sensory and motor development are important parts in feeding, and helping baby to reach the next stage. It’s important baby has developed the proper muscles needed for chewing, swallowing and digesting before they can begin thicker liquids and small solids.

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Feeding Development Milestones by Age

Watch to learn more about feeding throughout the 18 months!

0-3 Months

At this age, your infant is only consuming breastmilk or formula—they are not ready for thicker liquids or solids. Newborns often communicate hunger by showing signs of hunger.

It’s also important to note at this age, baby is not ready for any thicker liquids or solid foods. They also should not drink cow’s milk until they are 1 year old.

Watch baby’s 0-3 month feeding milestones:

4-6 Months

At this age, baby may be able to start purees and cereals, as long as:

  • Baby can sit up in a high chair
  • Baby has good head control
  • A healthcare provider has said baby is ready

How do I transition my baby to solid foods?

  • Begin and end baby’s meal with breast milk or formula while they are transitioning to solid foods.
  • Alternating between the bottle and spoon can help baby connect the idea of spoon-feeding with the comfort of nursing.

What are some good foods to start with as purees?

Purees are best when made with fruits and vegetables that can be cooked, cooled and blended into a smooth, thin liquid. Some popular first foods to puree are:

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Squash
  • Green beans

Keep in mind formula or breast milk will continue to be a key part of their nutrition until baby is one year old. However, baby should not have any cow’s milk until they are 12 months old.

Watch baby’s 4-6 month feeding milestones:

7-9 Months

As baby becomes more familiar with solids, they can begin transitioning to table foods. This typically happens around 8-9 months.

What types of food can I give baby once they have transitioned to table food?

Give baby a variety of foods. Different textures and shapes should be provided. A few suggestions for food to give to baby include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Well-cooked pasta
  • Soft fruits

Avoid giving baby heavily salted, buttered, or sweetened foods.

Is there anything I should not do when starting to give baby solid foods?

Do not feed baby solids from a bottle unless their healthcare provider suggests otherwise. This can drastically increase the amount of food baby eats at each feeding and cause gagging. Learning how to sit up, to use utensils, and rest in between bites are good feeding habits to develop.

Watch for signs baby is ready for solid foods and tips to make transitioning to solids easier.

Give baby soft, mashed, or well cooked food that is easy to swallow. Present food in small pieces to prevent choking. Baby should try one new food every three days to help detect potential food allergies.

Watch baby’s 7-9 month feeding milestones:

10-12 Months

By 12 months, baby can begin drinking from an open cup. Just remember, spills happen! Alternate between giving your little one open cups and using straws; this will help develop different mouth muscles.

Watch baby’s 10-12 month feeding milestones:

13-18 Months

At this age, your toddler is just getting better every day with feeding!

They should be using a cup regularly, and getting used to holding and drinking from a cup.

They should also be eating an increasing variety of coarsely chopped table foods.

Watch baby’s 13-18 month feeding milestones:

Food Allergies

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

If you notice your child has skin problems, such as rashes, hives, or swelling; stomach problems, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; and/or breathing problems, these are all symptoms of food allergies. Other signs include pale skin or light-headedness.

What should I do if I think my child has food allergies?

Talk to your child’s healthcare provider. They might recommend allergy testing via a skin prick or blood test or trying a special diet to help determine which food is causing the allergies.

Even if your child has no history of allergies, it is best to wait three days between new foods. For example, if you introduce your baby to a new food on Monday, don’t give them any other new foods until Thursday. In the event that they do have an allergic reaction, it will be easier to figure out which food was the cause.

If it is determined your child has a food allergy, keep your child away from foods containing these ingredients. Make sure to inform your child’s school and any caretakers about their allergies or medicines recommended by your child’s healthcare professional to relieve symptoms.

What are some common food allergies?

Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat cause 90% of food allergies. Introducing one new food every four days can help determine if a certain food is causing an allergic reaction.

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