Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Feeding Your Baby: Newborn to One Year

Confused about when and what to feed your baby? Our expert guides you through the ages and stages.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Sara DuMond, MD

It's OK to admit it, new parents: You're feeling a bit frantic about feeding your baby.  You'll be relieved to know it doesn't require a degree in nutrition science. From breast and bottle feeding through starting solids, you can have a game plan. Pediatrician Jennifer Shu, co-author of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed With Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup, shares her insight into what your baby should eat and drink to stay healthy during the first year.

Birth to 4 Months

Whether you decide to formula-feed, breastfeed, or use a mix of both, a liquid diet is all your baby needs for the first few months.

  • For breastfeeding, let baby be the boss. Watch your baby's cues to know how much and how often to feed her. If she starts turning her head or pushing away, she's probably done. If she wakes up from a nap and starts sucking on her fingers, it's time to feed again.
  • For formula-feeders, always be sure to mix the formula according to the instructions on the label. And don't forget to wash your hands before you handle the formula or bottle.
  • Try to get your baby comfortable drinking liquids at room temperature or straight from the fridge so you can skip the step of heating them.
  • Offer only the amount of formula you think your baby will finish at one sitting. Once the bottle has touched her mouth, it's good for only about an hour, at which point bacteria starts to multiply in the bottle.

 

4 Months to 1 Year

It’s time to start solids. Typically, babies 4 to 6 months are introduced to solids slowly. Think safety first -- offer food that's small, soft, and smooth to avoid choking as your baby learns the mechanics of chewing and eating.

  • Although rice cereal has long been the recommended first food, it's not the only choice you have. The latest thinking is that any single-ingredient food -- meat, fruit, vegetables, or cereal -- is a good starting point as long as it covers the bases of small, soft, and smooth. While meat might be a surprise to some parents, it's a good choice because it's high in iron that's better absorbed by babies than the iron in infant cereal.
  • Be on allergy alert. Wait at least three days before working a new food into the rotation so you can watch for allergy symptoms that can develop immediately, such as swelling or breathing problems, or more slowly, such as hives or eczema.
  • Be sure to keep old foods in the rotation to build up a well-rounded menu of flavors and textures.
  • Hold off giving your baby whole milk until 1 year. When it comes to introducing yogurt, most pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is 9 months or older. It's processed, so the milk protein is more tolerable than that in whole milk. Before this age, babies have a limited amount of lactase enzyme (which helps digest lactose).
  • Routine, routine, routine. Feed your baby in the same place every meal, every day, while she is seated in a secured seat. Don't let your baby eat on the run -- it not only poses a choking hazard, but it also sets the stage for eating battles when she grows into toddlerhood.

 

Reviewed on October 04, 2011

Today on WebMD

family walking on the beach
Slideshow
two boys in a swing
Article
 
mistakes_parents_make_with_toddlers_2.jpg
Article
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow