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Nutrition Library: Children and Nutrition

Feeding Plans - Newborns to Toddlers

The ways you feed your child are an integral part of his/her development. Eating patterns change, especially at first, and its important to adjust what and how much you feed as your child ages.


Perhaps the biggest choice parents make in feeding newborns is the decision to breast-feed or use a formula. The nutritional value of breast milk is ideal for a growing baby. If this type of feeding is not possible, formulas do offer the essential nutrients.

Newborns usually feed every two hours. If the newborn is breastfeeding, try nursing 10 to 15 minutes on each breast. If the child is being fed formula, two to three ounces is an average sized serving.

As the baby grows, s/he will most likely take more food at each session, but eat less frequently.

It is always important to watch for signs of underfeeding. If the newborn still has wrinkled skin after several weeks of life or if s/he appears dissatisfied, s/he may be underfed. Other signs include vomiting, spit-ups and loose stool.

One to three months

Most one-to-three month olds are still limited to breast milk and formulas. These babies still don't have control of their tongues to handle solid foods.

One-to-three month olds eat less than newborns - a feeding every four hours is a good standard. Breast-fed babies, however, may need more frequent feedings because breast milk is digested more quickly. Breast-fed babies should be feeding enough to produce four to six wet diapers a day.

Babies who are bottle-fed often gain more weight than babies who are breast-fed. At two months, most babies will take about four to five ounces of formula per feeding. By the third month, you can increase the feeding to five to six ounces.

Four to seven months

While breast milk and formula will most likely be the staple of your baby's diet, this might be a good time to begin introducing your baby to solid foods.

There are a few things you can check for to see if your baby is ready for solids. First, your baby needs to be able to hold her/his head up by her/himself. Second, your baby's tongue-thrust reflex needs to be less sensitive. If it isn't, s/he will probably push any solid foods out of her/his mouth. Third, your baby may be showing an interest in solids by grabbing at spoons or other foods at the dinner table.

It's important to stagger the foods that you introduce to make sure your baby does not have any food allergies. A good first solid food is rice cereal mixed with breast milk or the formula you've been using.

A good second step is pureed fruits, vegetables and plain whole-milk yogurt. When introducing these foods, you can work your way up to about two tablespoons of food per serving.

Eight to twelve months

By this time, breast milk and formula will most likely not satisfy your baby's nutritional needs. Solid foods will begin playing a bigger part in your baby's diet.

Once your baby has grown accustomed to cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables, you can begin introducing a variety of solids. You can try mashing your own food with a fork and then feeding your baby small pieces. Some good choices are meat, scrambled egg yolk and chunks of banana. Again, be sure to stagger the introduction of new foods to check for food allergies.

Some solid foods can pose choking hazards. Small, round hard foods can get caught in the throat. Foods such as popcorn, carrot chunks and grapes can be difficult to swallow. Mashing or cutting up foods make them safer to eat.

This may also be a good time to give your baby a cup. Start with water in a plastic cup with large handles and a lid.

Babies often begin eating less at this age than they did in the first months of life. While this is normal, it's important to check for significant weight loss or gain.

One to two years

Breast milk and formula may still make up more than half of your baby's diet. Formula-fed babies may begin drinking whole milk (fat is important to a baby's diet for the first two years of life).

Continue to feed your child fruits, vegetables, lean meat and whole grain bread. Your child may not be eating as much as s/he did several months ago. This is normal, as the child's growth is beginning to slow. Three small meals a day, plus two snacks, make up an average sized diet for this age group.

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