Babies typically are ready for introducing solid food between 4-6 months of age, based on readiness signs. Note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests feeding solely breastmilk for the first 6 months of life. Talk to your pediatrician when you think your baby is ready to start solid food. It’s fun to feed your little one new food, but how much should you give them?
How to Begin Introducing Solid Food
When you begin introducing solid food, it will serve as a complement NOT a replacement to breastmilk/formula. Remember the phrase, “Food before one is just for fun.” Always offer milk first so baby fills up on those important nutrients first. Then, 30-60 minutes later you can offer a snack and let baby explore the world of solid foods. Be sure to offer solids when your baby is well rested and happy, so he has a positive experience.
Over this period, you can offer two tablespoons of purees, once a day. If you are practicing baby led weaning (BLW), feed your child one chunk of a food, once a day. To learn how to cut and offer chunks of food for BLW, download this app: Solid Starts.
- At this stage your child should still be getting all his calories from formula or breastmilk. Baby will drink milk 6-8 times a day, averaging 24-36 ounces (~3-5 oz. per a feeding).
- Don’t worry about amounts with solids! When you are first introducing solid food, you are acclimating your baby to the taste and texture of solids more than getting them to eat any kind of substantial amounts.
- Mix in a bit of breastmilk/formula to their purees so a familiar taste is present; this also helps thin out the puree. You can make homemade baby food to save money and know exactly what is going into your baby’s body.
- New foods should be introduced one at a time, three to five days apart. This is so you can monitor your baby for any adverse reactions, in the form of an allergic reaction or difficulty digesting.
Remember, at this stage your baby will be consuming baby cereal and purees in addition to the normal ounces of formula/breastmilk, NOT as a replacement. Your baby’s overall calorie intake should still be coming from breastmilk or formula.
- Baby will be drinking 4-6 times a day, averaging 24-36 ounces of breast milk or formula (~4-8 oz. per a feeding).
- If your baby starts to drink less, then you should offer less solid food. Until 9 months old, formula/breastmilk is still the primary source of nutrition and calories; this is important for baby’s growth and development. For breastfeeding babies, you cannot measure their intake on the length of time they eat because they become more efficient at eating. You will notice changes based on the fullness of your breasts.
- At this stage, you will begin introducing solid food twice a day. Baby will eat about 4-8 Tbsp of purees total in a day. Start with the lower end of the spectrum at 6 months and work your way up.
- In addition, you can start introducing your baby to small pieces of finger foods, such as soft, cut up pieces of ripened fruit and cooked veggies. As you move closer to 9 months old, BLW starts to merge with the recommended finger food options. Cheerios are a great tool in mastering the pincer grasp (picking up small pieces between the thumb and pointer finger).
By now, baby will have several new teeth and is ready to munch. You can offer solid food 3 times a day. Your baby should get 50% of his calories from breastmilk/formula and 50% from solid foods. This will increase so that when he turns 1 year old, he is getting 100% of his calories from solid foods.
- Your baby will drink formula/breastmilk about 4 times a day, averaging 20-30 ounces per a day (4-6 oz. per a feeding).
- Include baby in mealtimes and work up to three times a day. Once he is a year old, he should be having three meals a day and two small snacks in between.
- Around 10 or 11 months old, some babies may be ready to drop their morning feed and have a solid breakfast instead. Do this based on your child’s interest and hunger cues when they wake up.
1 Year Old Portion Sizes
At 1 year old 100% of calorie intake should come from solid food. If you continue to breastfeed know that it is extra, but still very beneficial for brain stimulation.
- You can introduce whole cow milk or plant-based milk in lieu of formula/breastmilk. It is a good idea to mix the two so the introduction to the new tasting milk is gradual.
- Babies should be drinking 16-24 ounces of cow or plant-based milk a day, along side 3 meals and 2 snacks. You may feel like your child is eating all day; but remember their portion sizes are small.
- Follow these portion sizes and know that your child may have a bigger appetite one day over another. Respect their hunger and full cues so they can begin to learn when their body is full. A child does not need to join ‘the clean plate club.’
Things to Avoid
- Honey is off limits for the first year. This is because babies are not able to digest it properly and it could cause botulism, even cooked or pasteurized honey.
- Do not give your baby, under 12 months, unpasteurized items such as yogurt, cheese, orange juice, or raw milk. It can cause severe diarrhea from E. coli.
- Children under 1 year of age should not be given cow’s milk. Not only does it not provide the correct nutrients for them, but in addition their kidney cannot handle the amount of protein and minerals yet. You can instead introduce dairy through cheese and yougurt.
- Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny encourages you to avoid sugar and juice under a year of age. Even watered-down juice can lead to tooth decay and curb their appetite with a non-nutritious choice.
Enjoy this fun time of trying new foods with your baby. For an added bonus use sign language, such as more and all done during mealtimes! Be sure to talk to your pediatrician before making any big changes to your baby’s diet as they know your child’s milestones and weight gain patterns. To learn more, check out our online class, Introducing Solids. The author of the class, Maria Cusack, is Nutritious Life Certified by the Nutritious Life Studio as well as a Certified Pre/Postnatal Health Coach certified by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. And don’t forget any nanny who is placed with a nanny family through Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny is gifted three free classes, as we value ongoing professional development.
About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and is a Certified Potty Training Expert. At Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny she is the eLearning and Social Media Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her children, going for walks with her family, and discovering local wineries in New England.