how often should you offer food?

Jessica Penner, RDUncategorized2 Comments

When you’re starting out on solids, your baby’s main nutrition is still going to come from breastmilk or formula. Continue to feed your baby breastmilk or formula on demand.

Introducing solids is also a way of introducing mealtimes to your baby. As she gets older, she will drink less milk and eat more solid food. At 12 months, your baby will get about 50% of calories from milk and 50% from food.

When you first introduce foods, you can start with 1-2 meals. I would recommend breakfast and lunch. There’s always a chance that your baby might react to a new food. If you introduce new foods earlier in the day, you can watch your baby for signs of a reaction. If you feed your baby in the evening and then put him to bed, your baby might develop a reaction with you even being aware of it!

There isn’t any evidence to recommend feeding solids before or after breastfeeding/formula. It really depends on the baby! Some babies are early adopters and will devour solid food without leaving any room for breastmilk! For these babies, you might want to start the meal off with breastfeeding or a bottle of formula since these are still the most important sources of nutrition for baby. Other babies would seemingly be happy to stay on an all-milk diet forever. These babies have very little interest in solid foods. Since eating at least some solids is important for their iron status, you want to offer food to them when they are most likely to accept it. So for these babies, you would start with solids and then finish off with milk. Having said that, if mealtime was delayed for some reason, and your baby is frantic about eating, you may want to breastfeed or give a bottle to start. In this scenario, it’s unlikely your baby is going to be excited about trying something new!

quick chart for how often to offer solids to baby

Remember, this is just a suggested guideline. The important thing is to start slow and then work up to 5-6 meals/snacks a day.

  • 4-6 months: 1-2x/day
  • 6-8 months: 2-3x/day
  • 8-10 months: 3-4x/day
  • 10-12 months: 5-6x/day
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2 Comments on “how often should you offer food?”

  1. My baby is 8 mo old, I offer mostly finger foods and some spoon fed foods, 3 meals and 1 snack. Still breastfeeding 5 times a day. How do I know if baby is eating enough solids? Of course she is so messy eating and I’m not sure if she’s consuming enough. If she is eating small amounts each meal, is it enough?

    1. Part of the feeding relationship with your child is TRUSTING that they will eat the amount of food that is right for them. As long as you are offering texture and age appropriate foods frequently and are nursing on demand, your baby will grow well! That is, of course, barring any medical conditions. Growth is the best indicator of whether a child is eating enough. Check with your pediatrician to be assured your baby is getting enough to eat 🙂

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