Your baby grows more quickly in the first year of life than any other time, which makes healthy eating so important during this time.
Early healthy eating habits also set the stage for healthy eating patterns throughout their entire lives.
Tips for Your Newborn
Breast milk or formula is all your baby needs during the first few months of life. After that, starting other healthy foods will continue to encourage proper growth and development for your baby.
Do not feed your child solid foods unless your pediatrician advises you to do so. Infants younger than 4 months should not start solid food for the following reasons:
- Formula or breast milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs to grow.
- Your baby needs more physical development before he or she can eat from a spoon.
- Offering solid food too early may result in overfeeding and excessive weight gain.
- Generally, solid foods do not assist babies in sleeping through the night.
Feeding Guide (0 to 5 months)
2 - 3 ounces of formula or breast milk, 6 - 8 times in 24 hours
3 - 4 ounces of formula or breast milk, 5 - 6 times in 24 hours
3 - 5 months
4 - 5 ounces of formula or breast milk, 5 - 6 times in 24 hours
Counting wet diapers is the best way to know if your baby is getting plenty of milk. If your baby begins having fewer wet diapers, contact your baby’s healthcare provider or a lactation consultant right away.
- When starting solid foods, be on the lookout for food allergies by giving your baby only one new food at a time. Wait 2-3 days before adding another new food so you can identify which specific food caused the reaction.
- Start new solid foods in small amounts.
- Introduce different foods based on your doctor’s recommendation. Some people start with an infant cereal, and later slowly introduce vegetables, fruits, and proteins.
- Avoid using sugar or salt when making homemade baby food. Canned foods that contain high levels of sugar and salt shouldn’t be used for baby food.
- Your baby needs to learn to eat from a spoon, so use a spoon when feeding your baby. Avoid using an infant feeder and only put water or formula in a bottle.
- Do not feed your infant honey in the first year due to increased risk of botulism.
- Do not feed your infant cow’s milk in the first year. It doesn’t have the right nutrients for babies.
- If your baby is younger than 6 months, avoid feeding him or her homemade beets, spinach, green beans, carrots or squash. These can have high levels of nitrates, which increases the risk of a blood disorder (methemoglobinemia).
- With fruits and vegetables, always wash, peal and remove seeds or pits. Take extra care with fruits and vegetables that may have touched the ground.
- Fruit juice is not recommended for children younger than 1 year. It is not necessary to a healthy diet and whole fruits and vegetables are a healthier option.
- Fat and cholesterol should not be limited for babies and very young children, unless advised by your pediatrician. Children need fat, calories and cholesterol for proper mental and physical development.
- Do not prop your baby’s bottle in his or her mouth. This is linked to choking and ear infections. Once your baby has teeth, it can also cause tooth decay.
- Healthy babies typically don’t need extra water. Talk with your child’s pediatrician before giving your baby extra fluids. Once your child is eating solids, offering water is often fine at age 6 months and older.
- Ask your baby’s pediatrician about how to wean your baby off the bottle.
- Don’t enforce a clean plate rule and don’t make your child finish food even when he or she isn’t hungry. It creates the habit of eating just because food is present. Instead, let your child’s appetite dictate how much he or she eats. Expect your child to have pickier and smaller appetite around age 1, when growth begins to slow.
- Offer your baby as wide a variety of foods as possible. Early introduction of different foods can lead to good eating habits for life.