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Infant Feeding Guidelines

Expert Q&A

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Updated December 04, 2004

Q. My 5 month old has been eating 4 times a day. She totals 32oz of formula and 1 scoop of rice with each meal. She also has 1TBS of carrots during 2 of those feedings. My question is how much formula should she be consuming per day? When do I start feeding her more solids and less formula? Are there any guidlines on this? Amanda, Webster, Texas

A. The average 5 month old is drinking between 24-32 ounces of formula each day, so it sounds like you are right on track. Keep in mind that is just an average though, and some are drinking more and other less formula than that each day. See this article, Amount of Formula Feedings, for more information.

The amount of solids you are giving her also seem about right. It is usually recommended that you start a baby on solid foods between 4-6 months, beginning with an iron fortified rice cereal. You can next offer a vegetable or fruit, although the timing of that depends on when you started cereal. If you waited until your baby was 6 months old to start cereal, then you would probably quickly introduce a vegetable or fruit. On the other hand, if you started cereal early, like around 4 months, then your baby might be ready for a vegetable or fruit by 5 or 6 months.

The only thing that you might change, is that instead of giving her the rice cereal with each meal, you could just give her a little more at 1 or 2 separate times each day. That might help you get into a routine of regular meals later on.

When should you start feeding her more solid foods and less formula?

It will probably be some time before she cuts back on her formula intake, since she is only drinking 4 bottles each day. In fact, you might not expect her to cut back until she is 8-9 months old, or maybe not until you switch her to whole cow's milk when she is 12 months old.

As for how much solid food to give her, there are no definite guidelines. Instead, watch your baby for signs that she is still hungry or not satisfied, and then begin to offer more. If she gobbles down that tablespoon of carrots and seems eager to eat more, then maybe give another tablespoon or two. If after a tablespoon she has already lost interest and turns away from the baby spoon, then she likely isn't ready for more.

Once you get up to 3-4 tablespoons of cereal and a fruit and vegetable at one meal, then it is usually time to introduce another meal during the day, with the goal of 3 regular meals by the time your baby is about 7-8 months old.

Guidelines to Starting Solid Foods

To help ease your baby's transition to solid foods, keep in mind the following guidelines:
  • start solids sometime between 4-6 months, once your baby is showing signs of being ready and can eat from a spoon
  • an iron fortified rice cereal is usually the first solid food that your baby should eat
  • experiment to find the best time to feed your baby solids, for example before, after, or at a separate time from formula or breastfeeding
  • to easily detect food allergies, only give one new, single ingredient food at a time, and wait 3-4 days before introducing another.
  • begin with just a teapsoon or less when you are first introducing solids and then slowly increase to a tablespoon or more as your baby gets the hang of eating solid foods
  • after rice cereal, consider moving on to other cereals, like oatmeal and barley, and then introduce strained vegetables, fruits and lastly, meats
  • continue to offer your baby an iron fortified cereal even after you introduce other solid foods, as it is a good source of iron or your growing infant
  • talk to your Pediatrician if your baby won't eat any solids by the time he is 7-8 months old
Related Video
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