0-2 Years of Age | How to Feed Your Baby by Age
When you have a newborn, one of the biggest obstacles can be learning how to feed them so they can grow and thrive from Day One. The thing is that feeding a baby isn’t that difficult once you learn a few basics, especially in the beginning when exclusive breastfeeding is what’s recommended. The longer you breastfeed, the better it is for the baby’s health, but even if you feed them formula, there is no need to worry because baby formula is better than ever these days.
Let’s take a look at how you should be feeding a baby by age group.
Zero to Four Months of Age
In the first four months of life, babies need only formula or breast milk. In fact, it is imperative that infants get nothing else except breast milk or formula. Newborns should never go more than four hours without eating, and it’s best to breastfeed eight to twelve times per day or give them one to two ounces of formula every two to three hours in the first few days, then switch to two to three ounces every three to four hours afterwards.
If your child is going through a lot of wet diapers throughout the day, they are likely getting enough food, but if you have any concerns, you should check with your doctor. Each baby is a little different, but they should all be going through a lot of diapers in each 24-hour period. This shows you that the baby is getting enough breast milk or formula.
Four to Six Months of Age
At this point, you should continue feeding them breast milk (four to six feedings per day) or formula (four- to six-ounce bottles, four to six times per day), but pay attention to cues that may signal that they’re ready for solids. If they can sit up in a high chair, hold their head up, and have doubled their birth weight, they are likely ready for solid food.
When feeding them pureed fruits, veggies, or meats, only feed them one to two teaspoons at first, gradually increasing it to one to two tablespoons per day. The older they get, the more food they can eat, but as a general rule, four to six months is a good time frame to introduce solid food to a baby. It’s also best to stick with baby food that is pureed and not adult food because they could easily choke on that.
Six to Eight Months of Age
When the baby reaches six to eight months of age, continue with breast milk or formula and solid foods, introducing solids one at a time so you can determine how well they tolerate them. By the time they reach this stage, they should be able to tolerate fruits, veggies, grain products, and protein-rich foods. Start with one to three tablespoons of each and graduate up to two to four tablespoons.
Keep in mind that your baby won’t eat much in the first few days because the size of a newborn's tummy is very small. When they’re born, their tummies are roughly the size of a marble, but it grows to the size of a ping pong ball by day three. By ten days of age, the tummy is about the size of a large chicken egg, so while it keeps growing, it never gets extremely large.
Eight to Twelve Months of Age
Once the baby reaches eight months of age, you can continue with breastfeeding or formula and solid foods. You can also add more “people” or family foods, including cottage cheese, fruits and veggies that are soft and cut into bite-sized pieces, O-shaped cereal, teething crackers, well-cooked spiral pasta, and well-cooked tiny pieces of potato.
They can also have 1/2 cup or a little more of foods such as fruit, veggies, and grain products. Keep in mind that to reduce choking hazards, all food you give a child at this stage should be very small and soft. Babies can choke very easily. Also, by eight months of age your baby should be getting three meals a day, and you can start adding a snack each day at this point.
One to Two Years of Age
One of the first things that you’ll learn about feeding babies is that they should never receive any cow’s milk until they are at least 12 months old. Their tummies simply can’t handle it. You can continue to breastfeed or give them formula, but keep in mind that most of your child’s nutritional needs are going to be met with the foods you’re feeding them.
As a general rule, a one- to two-year-old should eat 3/4 cup to one cup of food, three to four times per day, in addition to one or two snacks per day. Make sure that everything they’re eating is good for them, and never let them have sugary foods, soft drinks, cookies, chips, etc. Remember that they are learning healthy eating habits at this time, so it’s crucial to feed them only nutritious foods.
Meal time is also a time to bond with your child, so eat together whenever possible and don’t rush your meals. If you have any concerns about your child’s eating habits, you should talk to your pediatrician. Around this age, some children refuse to eat, but as the saying goes, “babies don’t starve quietly,” so just encourage them to eat and leave it alone if they don’t.
ConclusionBabies require nothing but breast milk or formula for at least the first four months, and by six months you can start feeding them solids, which means soft pureed foods. Breast- or formula-feeding can continue until age two or longer, but their systems will need more than that by their second year of life.
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