How Often Should You Feed Your Baby Solid Foods? (+ Feeding Schedules)

One of the most common questions I receive is, “How often should I feed my baby solid foods?” It’s a crucial aspect of infant nutrition, but one that’s not always so easy to answer because it honestly depends on your baby! But I’m here today to provide you some clarity and guidance.

I’ll dive into the frequency of feeding solid foods to your baby based on their age. I’ve also provided you with sample feeding schedules that you can use as reference for building your own schedule or routine.

Whether you’re just starting your baby’s solid food journey or your not sure how to progress your baby as they get older, I’ve got you!

Let’s go!

When Is Your Baby Ready for solid foods?

There’s a common misconception floating around – even among some pediatricians – that babies should start eating solid foods between 4-6 months of age. But let’s debunk that myth right here and now.

Age shouldn’t be the main cue for introducing solids to your little one. Every baby is a unique little human, and it’s their individual milestones and cues that truly matter.

So, what should you look out for? Here’s my checklist of readiness signs that tell me your baby is ready to start experiencing solid foods:

  • Sitting Up: Is your baby able to sit up on their own (or even with a little support?)
  • Head Support: Is your baby able to hold their head up on their own? Do they have control over their head and neck movements? We don’t want them to still be little bobble heads.
  • Interested In Food: Keep an eye out for those curious glances as you munch on your meal. If your little one’s giving your plate the eye, they might be ready to join the dinner table.
  • Hand-to-Mouth Coordination: Is your baby treating their toys like appetizers, bringing everything within arm’s reach straight to their mouth? That’s a clear sign they’re getting ready for the real deal.

Now, here’s the kicker: while most babies hit these milestones around the 6-month mark, there’s no need to rush things. My own munchkin didn’t tick all the boxes until she was almost 7 months old. Remember, you know your baby best, so trust your instincts.

Oh, and a quick word of caution: not all pediatricians are nutrition gurus. Some may still be stuck in the rice cereal era, recommending it to 4-month-olds without checking for those readiness signs.

It’s always good to have a chat with a nutritionist or your pediatrician, but don’t hesitate to advocate for what you believe is best for your little one.

How Often – 6 to 8 Month Old Feeding Schedule

Once you’ve established that your baby is ready for solid foods, incorporating them into your baby’s feeding schedule is pretty simple. At this stage, your baby typically only needs solid foods once a day.

If you find yourself caught up in a busy day or if things don’t go as planned, don’t stress too much. Remember, breast milk or formula continues to provide all the necessary nutrition, but offering solid foods is important for practice.

I always recommend scheduling the solid food feeding during a family mealtime when everyone is likely to be seated together at the table. Introducing your baby to the social aspect of mealtime is just as important as introducing them to new foods.

There’s no need to adjust your baby’s regular milk feeds; keep those consistent. Avoid offering a milk feed right before mealtime, as your baby might not be super interested in the food you’re offering if they’re milk drunk.

If your baby doesn’t seem interested in solid foods at mealtime, assess their milk feeds. You might want to try offering the milk feed slightly earlier, about 30 minutes earlier, to allow more time between feedings.

Also, you can follow up your baby’s solid food meal with a milk feed. If you chose to use BLW and your baby isn’t eating much of solid food at mealtimes you may need to top them off with a milk feed.

IMPORTANT: It’s essential to remember that every baby is different, so follow your baby’s hunger cues to determine their individual feeding schedule. The following is just an example for reference.

How Often – 8 to 10 Month Old Feeding Schedule

Around 8 months of age, two things become important for your baby’s feeding routine:

  1. Adding an additional solid food mealtime to their schedule (totaling 2 solid meals per day).
  2. Introducing chewable foods to their meals, if you haven’t already done so.

You have the flexibility to choose when to introduce this additional feeding—whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

If you haven’t been offering solids during breakfast, it’s a good time to start. Babies often nurse or bottle-feed after waking in the morning, making it convenient to offer solid foods about an hour or so afterward.

However, this decision ultimately depends on your schedule and what works best for you and your baby.

It’s essential to note that breast milk or formula remains your baby’s primary source of nutrition at this age. If you notice a decrease in your baby’s milk intake, consider reducing the amount of solid foods offered during the day.

Below is an example feeding schedule for an 8 to 10-month-old baby, but remember to adapt it according to your baby’s cues and individual needs.

How Often – 10 to 12 Month Old Feeding Schedule

Around 10 months of age, your baby should be eating 3 solid food meals per day. It’s an ideal time to introduce their final solid food meal into their routine. You can choose whichever mealtime you haven’t already incorporated into their solid food schedule.

Most babies will maintain their bottle or breastfeeding routine, but as they approach 11 to 12 months old, you may observe a decrease in these feeds.

If your baby is nearing 12 months of age, gaining the appropriate amount of weight, but showing little interest in solids, it may be worth discussing with your pediatrician about adjusting their formula intake.

Typically, at this age, your baby will receive milk feeds before nap and bedtime, with solid meals in between. You can refer to the sample feeding guide below for reference, but remember, every baby is different, so make sure to adapt it to your baby’s needs.

What’s Next – Feeding Your Toddler

Yay! Your little one has completed their first trip around the sun. So, what does that mean for their feeding schedule and diet?

Let’s break it down:

  1. Transitioning to a Toddler Diet:
    • The goal for your now-toddler (yes, it’s strange to think of your little babe as a tot!) is to consume a diet primarily consisting of solid foods—3 meals and 2 snacks per day.
    • Remember, this transition doesn’t happen overnight. It’s essential to gradually wean babies from their milk feeds, which may take some time. Many babies will still require a milk feed before nap or bedtime for several months after turning 1. However, aim for the goal of 3 meals and 2 snacks by 18 months of age.
  2. Introducing Cow’s Milk:
    • You can start introducing cow’s milk to your baby. However, if your baby had an allergy to milk-based formula as an infant, it’s crucial to discuss introducing cow’s milk with their pediatrician.
    • Limit your child’s milk intake to 16 to 24 ounces per day at this age. Excess milk intake can cause constipation, interfere with their ability to absorb iron, and can start to replace their solid food intake (they need those additional nutrients that milk doesn’t have)
  3. Transitioning to Open Cups:
    • Offer all new fluids—water and milk—in an open or transition cup.
    • The aim is to have your little one weaned from using a bottle by 18 months of age. This helps prevent baby bottle tooth decay and promotes proper dental development, which is vital for their dental health now and in the future.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition to toddlerhood for your little one, supporting their growth and development along the way.

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