Jul 26, 2013 Post By: Children's Health

Expert Advice: When and What to Feed Baby

Several well-known first-time parents welcomed babies this summer. Despite their celeb status, they likely have a few questions, like when to start feeding the baby cereal or solid food?

Age should not be the only determining factor. You should also take into account your baby’s body development and feeding cues before transitioning to new foods, says Maria-Paula Carrillo, R.D., a registered dietitian at Children's.

“Infants and children are very in tune with their sense of hunger,” says Carrillo. “Pay attention and listen to the cues they give you in order to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding. Monitoring a child’s weight and proper growth is the best way to ensure your infant is getting what he or she needs to develop properly.”

Baby's First Year

0 to 3 Months

Body Development    

  • Exhibits rooting reflex
  • Needs head support (some head support may start to appear)

Feeding Development    

  • Tongue moves forward and back to suck
  • Cries or fusses to show hunger
  • Smiles, gazes at caregiver or coos during feeding to indicate desire to continue
  • Spits out nipple or falls asleep when full

Foods (quantity per day)

  • Breastmilk or formula, 6-10 feedings

4 to 6 Months

Body Development

  • Holds neck steady
  • Sits with support
  • On tummy, pushes on arms with straight elbows

Feeding Development    

  • Draws in lower lip as spoon is removed from mouth
  • Moves head forward to reach spoon when hungry
  • Sometimes swipes food toward mouth when hungry
  • Turns head away from spoon when full

Foods (quantity per day)

  • Breastmilk or formula, 4- 6 feedings
  • Iron-fortified cereal, introduce and increase to 3-4 Tbsp.

7 to 8 Months

Body Development

  • Reaches and grasps for objects
  • Experiments with mouth movements

Feeding Development

  • Reaches for spoon or food when hungry
  • Points to food when hungry
  • Slows down in eating when full
  • Clenches mouth shut or pushes food away when full

Foods (quantity per day)

  • Breastmilk or formula, 4- 5 feedings
  • Iron-fortified cereal, 4 or more Tbsp.
  • Strained fruits and vegetables, introduce and increase to 3-4 Tbsp.
  • Teething and chewing foods, like toast, crackers, etc., introduce and increase to 3-4 Tbsp.

8 to 10 Months

Body Development

  • Sits alone without support
  • Picks up objects with thumb and finger
  • Leans toward spoon
  • Sucks from a cup

Feeding Development

  • Reaches for food when hungry
  • Points to food when hungry
  • Shows excitement when food is presented when hungry
  • Pushes food away when full
  • Slows down in eating when full

Foods (quantity per day)

  • Breastmilk or formula, 3-4 feedings (can offer cup)
  • Iron-fortified cereal, 1/4 cup
  • Vegetables, 4 or more Tbsp.
  • Fruits, 4 or more Tbsp.
  • Teething and chewing foods, as desired
  • Protein foods, introduce and increase to 2-4 Tbsp.

10 to 12 Months

Body Development

  • Learns to crawl
  • May pull self to stand

Feeding Development

  • Holds a cup with help
  • Experiments with self-feeding
  • Reaches for food when hungry
  • Points to food when hungry
  • Shows excitement when food is presented when hungry
  • Pushes food away when full
  • Slows down in eating when full

Foods (quantity per day)

  • Breastmilk or formula, 3-4 feedings (offer cup)
  • Iron-fortified cereal, 1/4 cup
  • Vegetables, 1/4-1/2 cup (soft-cooked)
  • Fruits, 1/2-3/4 cup
  • Bread and toast, 1-2 slices
  • Protein foods, 2-4 Tbsp.
  • Yogurt or similar dairy, 4-6 ozs.