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Baby Feeding Guide

Use this guide to find out what and how much to feed your child in the first year. The amounts are general recommendations only, so don’t worry if your little one eats a bit more or less than suggested. It’s always a good idea to discuss your plan for starting solids with your child’s doctor before getting started.

Also, you don’t have to introduce solids to your child in any special order. If you want to give your baby a taste of tofu at age 6 months, go ahead, even though it’s not listed on our chart until age 8 months. And while cereal is a traditional first food in the United States, it’s fine to start with mashed fruits or vegetables instead.

Age: Birth to 4 months

Feeding behavior

  • Rooting reflex helps your baby turn toward a nipple to find nourishment.

What to feed

  • Breast milk or formula ONLY

Feeding tip

  • Your baby’s digestive tract is still developing, so solid food is off-limits for now.
Age: 4 to 6 months
Signs of readiness for solid food

The following are some guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your child is likely ready to try solids when he:

  • Can hold head up and sit upright in highchair
  • Shows significant weight gain (doubled birth weight) and weighs at least 13 pounds
  • Can close mouth around a spoon
  • Can move food from front to back of mouth

What to feed

  • Breast milk or formula, PLUS
  • Pureed vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash)
  • Pureed fruit (apples, bananas, peaches)
  • Pureed meat (chicken, pork, beef)
  • Semi-liquid, iron-fortified cereal
  • Small amounts of unsweetened yogurt (no cow’s milk until age 1)

How much per day

  • Begin with about 1 teaspoon pureed food or cereal. Mix cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons breast milk or formula. (It will be very runny.)
  • Increase to 1 tablespoon of pureed food, or 1 tablespoon of cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, twice a day. If you’re giving cereal, gradually thicken the consistency by using less liquid.

Feeding tips

  • If your baby won’t eat what you offer the first time, try again in a few days.
  • Introduce new foods one at a time. Wait two or three days, if possible, before offering another new food. (Wait three days if your baby or family has a history of allergies.) It’s also a good idea to write down the foods your baby samples. If he has an adverse reaction, a food log will make it easier to pinpoint the cause.
  • The order in which you introduce new foods doesn’t usually matter. Your child’s doctor can advise you.
Age: 6 to 8 months
Signs of readiness for solid food

  • Same as 4 to 6 months

What to feed

  • Breast milk or formula, PLUS
  • Pureed or strained fruits (banana, pears, applesauce, peaches, avocado)
  • Pureed or strained vegetables (well-cooked carrots, squash, sweet potato)
  • Pureed meat (chicken, pork, beef)
  • Pureed tofu
  • Small amounts of unsweetened yogurt (no cow’s milk until age 1)
  • Pureed legumes (black beans, chickpeas, edamame, fava beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, kidney beans)
  • Iron-fortified cereal (oats, barley)

How much per day

  • 1 teaspoon fruit, gradually increased to 2 or 3 tablespoons in four feedings
  • 1 teaspoon vegetables, gradually increased to 2 or 3 tablespoons in four feedings
  • 3 to 9 tablespoons cereal in 2 or 3 feedings

Feeding tips

  • Introduce new foods one at a time. Wait two or three days, if possible, before offering another new food. (Wait three days if your baby or family has a history of allergies.) It’s also a good idea to write down the foods your baby samples. If she has an adverse reaction, a food log will make it easier to pinpoint the cause.
  • The order in which you introduce new foods doesn’t usually matter. Your child’s doctor can advise you.

Age: 8 to 10 months

Signs of readiness for solid and finger foods

  • Same as 6 to 8 months, PLUS
  • Picks up objects with thumb and forefinger
  • Can transfer items from one hand to the other
  • Puts everything in his mouth
  • Moves jaw in a chewing motion

What to feed

  • Breast milk or formula, PLUS
  • Small amounts of soft pasteurized cheese, cottage cheese, and unsweetened yogurt
  • Mashed vegetables (cooked carrots, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
  • Mashed fruits (bananas, peaches, pears, avocados)
  • Finger Foods (O-shaped cereal, small bits of scrambled eggs, well-cooked pieces of potato, well-cooked spiral pasta, teething crackers, small pieces of bagel)
  • Protein (small bits of meat, poultry, boneless fish, tofu, and well-cooked beans, like lentils, split peas, pintos, or black beans)
  • Iron-fortified cereal (barley, wheat, oats, mixed cereals)

How much per day

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup dairy (or 1/2 ounce cheese)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup iron-fortified cereal
  • 3/4 to 1 cup fruit
  • 3/4 to 1 cup vegetables
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons protein-rich food

Feeding tip

  • Introduce new foods one at a time. Wait two or three days, if possible, before offering another new food. (Wait three days if your baby or family has a history of allergies.) It’s also a good idea to write down the foods your baby samples. If he has an adverse reaction, a food log will make it easier to pinpoint the cause.
Age: 10 to 12 months
Signs of readiness for other solid foods
  • Same as 8 to 10 months, PLUS
  • Swallows food more easily
  • Has more teeth
  • No longer pushes food out of mouth with tongue
  • Tries to use a spoon

What to feed

  • Breast milk or formula PLUS
  • Soft pasteurized cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese (no cow’s milk until age 1)
  • Fruit mashed or cut into cubes or strips
  • Bite-size, soft-cooked vegetables (peas, carrots)
  • Combo foods (macaroni and cheese, casseroles)
  • Protein (small bits of meat, poultry, boneless fish, tofu, and well-cooked beans)
  • Finger foods (O-shaped cereal, small bits of scrambled eggs, well-cooked pieces of potato, well-cooked spiral pasta, teething crackers, small pieces of bagel)
  • Iron-fortified cereals (barley, wheat, oats, mixed cereals)

How much per day

  • 1/3 cup dairy (or 1/2 ounce cheese)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup iron-fortified cereal
  • 3/4 to 1 cup fruit
  • 3/4 to 1 cup vegetables
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup combo foods
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons protein-rich food

Feeding tip

  • Introduce new foods one at a time. Wait two or three days, if possible, before offering another new food. (Wait three days if your baby or family has a history of allergies.) It’s also a good idea to write down the foods your baby samples. If she has an adverse reaction, a food log will make it easier to pinpoint the cause.

Early Potty Training Method

Elimination communication is a method of early potty training by which a parent carefully watches a baby for signs that she’s about to pee or poop. As soon as the baby “announces” that she needs a potty break (she may squirm in a certain way, for example, or grimace or grunt), Mom or another caregiver gets her to a toilet or potty pronto and holds her over it bare-bottomed so that she takes care of business there and not in a diaper. Some parents begin elimination communication as early as a few weeks, others wait longer, but no matter how old (or young!) a child, early potty training has its benefits. Here are some of the biggest advantages.

EC reduces the need for diapers. Most infants need to be changed from five to ten times a day. And even though babies need fewer diaper changes as they get older, the number of nappies they go through will reach into the thousands by the time they’re toilet-trained. Most parents who do infant potty training use diapers some of the time (overnight, for example, or when they’re on the go), but even so, elimination communication can cut the total number drastically.
EC is easier on the pocketbook. This math is easy: Using fewer diapers means less money spent buying them!
EC is easier on the environment. Disposable diapers eat up resources when they’re manufactured and pile up in landfills after they’re used. Washing cloth diapers uses water and energy. When it comes to the environment, neither option is better than the other, but using fewer diapers of either type by going the elimination communication route is unquestionably the greenest way to go.
EC may be more comfortable for babies. Minus the bulk around her bottom, a baby can kick her chubby little legs and otherwise move more freely than she might wrapped in a nappy.
EC can stave off diaper rash. A sore, red tushie is typically caused by a trio of factors: moisture trapped against skin that’s enclosed in an airless environment and exposed to potential irritants, such as the residue from urine or feces and/or chemicals like the fragrances in a wipe. Most of these rash-raisers are non-issues when a baby spends less time in a diaper.
EC encourages bonding. Elimination communication requires keeping an almost-constant eye on a baby in order to catch her when she needs to pee or poop. Not only does this increase the quantity of time a parent (or caregiver) spends in contact with her child, it can enhance the quality of those close encounters by requiring Mom to really pay attention to how her baby expresses her needs.
EC is natural. At least, it’s natural when you consider that worldwide, most mothers deal with their infants’ toileting needs without using diapers. Particularly in Asia and Africa, babies are toted around with their butts bare. When they show signs of needing to relieve themselves, their mothers simply hold them away from their own bodies.

Having A a Relative Caregiver for Your Baby

If your mom, aunt, or another relative is available to care for your little one, you may feel like you’ve won the childcare jackpot. The biggest perk of relative care? The peace of mind that comes with knowing that a trusted family member is minding your precious bundle. It’s a win for you and your infant — he gets one-on-one attention, and you get an infant caregiver who’s (usually) much easier On your wallet.               No wonder more than a quarter of all working mothers opt for a relative caregiver.

But as with all options in childcare, there are potential pitfalls to opting for relative care. For one thing, it’d probably be pretty awkward to tell your mom (or worse, your mother-in-law) that you don’t like the way she’s doing her job. Or you might face a relative caregiver (especially if she’s older) who thinks she always knows best — after all, you’re a new mom and she has 20-plus years of experience under her belt. So before you decide to keep it all in the family, ask yourself these questions about choosing a relative caregiver:

Does my relative really want the job? Because you’re family, your mother or mother-in-law may have a hard time saying no to watching your wee one. If she seems hesitant, a frank talk is in order before you proceed. Going down the relative care path without all parties being totally on board isn’t good for anyone, especially your baby.

Is my relative good with kids? Your sister-in-law may love swinging by to visit her nephew, but cuddling a baby for a bit and taking care of one for hours at a time are two very different things. Just as you would if you wanted to hire a nanny, consider your relative’s patience, demeanor, and experience caring for children before you leave your baby with her.

Is my relative physically capable of handling the job? Your mom or dad may be willing — and lobbying hard — for the gig, but are they physically up to the task? Can they lug around a growing baby and crawl around with him on the floor? And even if they can hack it now, will they have the stamina to keep up with your tot as he morphs into a skipping, scampering, high-energy toddler? That happens sooner than you think.

Can I tell my relative what to do? Open communication is key to a successful childcare relationship; some moms, however, find it’s not so easy to bring up issues to a relative caregiver. It’s a point worth considering: For one thing, nannies are childcare pros who are used to working with parents. Plus, you may never see them again once your child’s ready for preschool. None of that is true with a relative caregiver. So given that your brother signed on to watch your baby out of the goodness of his heart, could you call him out if you discover he’s parking your sweetie in front of the TV for hours each day? If the answer’s no, toughen up or reconsider your arrangement.

How flexible is my relative, time-wise and attitude-wise? Is your family member’s schedule really that open for her to make this kind of commitment? And how about her child-rearing beliefs? Even if she disagrees with your take on discipline and naps, would she follow your rules while she’s with your baby? If you suspect not, you may want to rethink “hiring” her so you don’t risk a family feud (or a last-minute search for a backup sitter).

Still want to leave your baby in a relative’s care?

 

 

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