How Much and When to Feed Baby
All babies develop at different rates, but these guidelines suggest what to feed your infant and when to feed it.
Wondering if you're feeding your baby enough breast milk, formula, or solid food? We broke down some suggested feeding guidelines—but keep in mind that all infants require different amounts depending on body weight, appetite, and age. Ask your pediatrician if you're unsure.
Newborns should receive all calories from breast milk or formula. Here's a tentative breakdown.
Breast Milk: Most newborns eat every two to three hours, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and they drink 1-2 ounces of breast milk per feeding. Two-month-old babies generally take 4-5 ounces every three-four hours, while 6-month-olds eat around 8 ounces every four-five hours. Check out this article to learn if your baby is getting enough breast milk.
- RELATED: How Much Formula to Feed a Newborn
Formula: A formula-fed infant will take about 2 to 3 ounces per feeding, and she’ll eat every three to four hours, according to the AAP. Generally, the amount will increase by 1 ounce per month. As a guideline, feed your baby 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight, says Amy Lynn Stockhausen, M.D., an associate professor of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Most experts recommend starting solids around four-six months, depending on readiness. You should never introduce solids before a baby turns 4 months old.
When a baby is 6 to 8 months old, nearly all of her calories should still come from breast milk or formula, says Natalie Muth, M.D., R.D.N., coauthor of The Picky Eater Project. Aim to feed Baby around 32 to 36 ounces of formula daily, or give him breast milk every three to four hours.
Since Baby is still getting most of his calories from liquid, don’t stress about getting him to eat bite after bite of solid food. Feed up to two meals daily (and as little as one every couple of days), with each meal 2 to 4 tablespoons. Offer foods such as iron-fortified single-grain baby cereal, and pureed vegetables, fruits, meats. (To identify possible allergic reactions or digestive issues, don’t introduce more than one food at a time.)
Around 6-9 months, you should also start offering finger foods like strained vegetables, fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, and casseroles. "One of the things I really like about casseroles is that if the child likes the base flavor, you can add a bunch of other vegetables to it, and he's often fine with it," says Alan Greene, M.D., author of Feeding Baby Green, who makes a pasta casserole in red sauce for his family.
Once a baby reaches 9 to 12 months, aim to feed 16 to 24 ounces of formula daily, or give her breast milk every four to five hours. “By 9 to 12 months, about half of your baby’s calories should come from food and the other half from breast milk or formula,” Dr. Muth says.
Babies at this age tend to have an adventurous palate—they’ve learned eating tastes good, so don’t be afraid to give her chopped-up nibbles from your plate. If she wants more, feed her more, but if she pushes food away, don’t take it personally.
Babies like to play with their food, so also consider using yogurt or oatmeal as a dip for vegetables or whole-grain crackers. Just remember to chop or dice foods and to avoid those that are small, round, hard, or the size of a child's airway.
After 12 Months
“After the first birthday, most of the calories your baby consumes should come from finely chopped table food,” Dr. Muth says. To meet his calcium needs, serve whole milk in a sippy cup at meals and with snacks. Toddlers should drink about 2 to 3 cups a day. Aiming for set meal and snack times can also pay off, since he’ll be more hungry and thus willing to try new things.