With feeding advice and guidelines changing in recent years, it’s always best to stay on top of the most current research with a child. However, since everyone has an opinion and each baby is unique, knowing what’s right for your family can feel overwhelming.
We realize what a daunting job it is to look after a little one, and we’re here to walk you through the do’s and don’ts so you can feel confident and prepared when the time comes—and even if that time is already here. In this article, we’ll explore what a typical baby and infant feeding schedule looks like and how they may differ from family to family.
Newborn and Infant Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding Chart
A significant concern for parents is often how much to feed your tot and how often to do so. Naturally, you want to be sure your child is receiving the appropriate amount of nutrients to grow into a healthy human, but babies are unable to articulate their needs.
We’ve created an easy-to-read chart to help you feel confident in your feeding journey. However, please know this is a guideline, and every tyke will have varying needs, but this is a terrific spot to start.
Baby Feeding Guide by Month
Despite the chart above, sometimes more details are necessary to understand thoroughly. How many ounces of formula, how many times to nurse, how feeding intervals should be counted—anyone’s mind can go numb trying to absorb large amounts of new information.
There are a few basic guidelines that will help you on your way, but let’s get into the nitty gritty. Below we’ve outlined what each stage typically looks like and what your child will probably need from you to grow into a happy and healthy munchkin.
Milk Intake (0-3 Months)
When your little bundle is firstborn, they will need endless amounts of attention, and you’ll likely get very little sleep as a result. Hang in there, it gets better, and we’ve outlined tips to help.
Your newborn will need to be fed on demand whenever they need it. When they’re first born, kiddos have no developed rhythm or schedule, so they will need food, sleep, cuddles, etc., as soon as their body signals a necessity.
Even after their first few weeks of life, it’s best to maintain a relaxed schedule before trying to implement a routine. These early stages are a crucial time in their growth, and they’ll need lots of attention to develop correctly.
What Are Suitable Amounts of Formula in Ounces?
Formula amounts will depend on the age of your little one. When they’re first born, they’ll need to be fed as needed and without much notice or routine. Before they’re a month old, they’ll typically need about one to two ounces of formula every two or three hours.
Since your tyke is so tiny at the newborn stage, they won’t be able to hold much food in their tummy, so they’ll need to be fed about every three hours. Unfortunately, you probably won’t get much sleep during this time. However, as they age, they’ll be able to sleep for longer and longer periods, giving you longer breaks as well.
Should I Set a Nursing Schedule?
This is up to you; however, in the early days of their life when they’re still a newborn, they likely won’t be able to adapt to a routine just yet. While they’re young, they’ll need to be fed and sleep as needed until they find a rhythm.
You can still attempt to set a loose schedule for them, and some babies slip into a groove fairly early; just don’t feel discouraged if they don’t take to it right away. It may take a lot of time and repetition before they learn how to fit into their new lifestyle.
Baby Food Introduction (3-6 Months)
Before six months of age, the AAP recommends that you exclusively breast or bottle-feed your infant. However, if they’ve doubled their birth weight and they can sit up on their own, you can begin to introduce soft solids at about four or five months slowly.
Pay attention to how your kiddo reacts when you spoon feed them and it may indicate how ready they are to eat solids. If they push the food out of their mouth with their tongue, it could mean they’re not quite ready yet.
Stages (Types) of Baby Food
As your munchkin doesn’t have teeth as we do, it’s critical to be sure you’re feeding them soft foods that their gums can manage, as well as foods that are easily digestible for their developing bodies.
It’s time for your kiddo to start eating solids! When first introducing your little one to solids it’s recommended that they eat only one type of food that is pureed into an easily swallowable, soft texture.
Be mindful not to add any salt or sugar to their beginner foods, and this could upset their stomach this early. During stage one, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any allergies as well.
Stage 2 won’t be remarkably different from Stage 1; however, you may strain your munchkin’s food instead of pureeing, and additionally, they can now accept a combination of two foods instead of one at a time.
By the time your little eater is about 8 to 10 months old, they should be ready for more hearty textures. However, they still likely won’t be eating steaks or anything “solid.” They can eat foods that are soft and chunky yet don’t need to be pureed like in Stage 1 or Stage 2.
Starting Baby on Solids (6 Months to 1 Year)
As your munchkin grows more mobile, they can start feeding themselves soft snacks, like avocado, potato, and other easily digestible foods. This is the time they can dive into more Stage 3 foods and eat more softs with new textures and flavors.
You can even combine two mashed items and introduce your little one to a creative combination to prepare their palate for the future. As you’re doing this, keep an eye out for any potential allergies they may have or if they’re reacting adversely.
Combining Nursing and Bottle Feeding With Solid Food
It’s a good idea to combine nursing and solid foods together and allow them to acclimate to a more solid diet gradually. Your tot will still be receiving the majority of their nutrients through either formula or breast milk, and the solids will serve more like a snack. Until they’re a bit older and can process solids with greater ease, it’s wise to stick to a combination.
Many breastfeeding moms decide to introduce some formula in the earlier months of baby’s life, sometime between four and six weeks. This way, Mom doesn’t have to be there for every feeding, and a partner could take over a night feeding. Others decide to pump breastmilk for the same reasons.
Newborn and Infant Feeding Timeline Bonus Guidelines
Despite plenty of free online resources, parents are likely to still have many questions about looking after an infant, which is completely understandable as you’re now responsible for a growing human life. Either way, you’re not alone in your journey, and we’re here to help along the way.
How Often Should Babies Eat Solid Food and When?
Deciding how often and when to feed your tyke solids can remain an entirely personal decision for you and your family. When your munchkin is young and growing, whatever works best for your lifestyle and your baby is completely okay. If you’re breastfeeding, it may be easier to feed them solids when your milk supply is low, like in the afternoon or evening.
You’ll likely learn through trial and error what times of the day your babe is interested in solid foods and when they’re not. You’ll notice when they’re not interested at the dinner table when they turn their face away, spit food out of their mouth, or push spoons out of their face. Alternatively, they may wake up eager in the morning and will take solids happily first thing.
Either way, this is to be expected—they’re humans who have preferences just like adults. We may not get it right each and every time, but it’s a learning process, so grant yourself the grace to guess wrong sometimes, as it’s only natural.
What Are Early Signs That a Child Is Hungry?
There’s a few signals you can look out for to tell if your tot is hungry. Often they’ll look around for a breast or put their fist to their mouth as if they’re trying to eat something. Other times they may appear more alert and active, as if they’re looking for nutrients and food.
Additionally, they may open and close their mouth, as if sucking on an invisible nipple. They may become more restless and fidgety as well, indicating their anxiousness to be fed. With time, you will likely become more in tune to what your infant needs and will begin to know which signs mean they’re hungry.
How Should I Count Feeding Intervals?
You can count feeding intervals by counting the beginning of each feeding throughout the day. You don’t need to worry too much over the time between—simply focus on how many. This is because it can be difficult to keep track of time between feedings, as it may not always be consistent, particularly in the earlier stages of your munchkin’s life.
How Can I Be Sure That Baby Eats Enough?
The human mind is an incredible thing, and magically, your baby will be born with the instinct to stop eating when they are full. So, fortunately, you don’t have to worry about regulating how much they’re eating for fear that they’re eating too much. They will signal when they’re full by pulling their head away from a breast or bottle, turning away, or appearing relaxed in contentment.
Additionally, it’s crucial to be sure they’re getting enough nutrients. You can gauge this by how much weight they gain in intervals. If they’re steadily gaining weight, happy and active, you likely have a perfectly healthy tot. You want to notice your tyke gaining about 4 to 7 ounces each week until they are 6 months old, and then about 3 to 5 ounces per week until they are 18 months.
Keep in mind, these are general guidelines and not specific to each newborn. Your little eater will develop at their own pace and in their own unique ways. We stand behind our advice, and while sound and researched, our suggestions are merely jumping off points to help you in exercising your judgement.
Stay strong, you’re doing great!
How Often Should I Alternate Breasts?
Switching between breasts during a feeding isn’t necessary, and won’t affect your breasts or your child adversely if you do or don’t swap. This is entirely up to preference; however, it is recommended that you allow your baby to finish the first breast before switching to the other because your milk is fattier at the end.
Swapping can keep a drowsy eater awake by mere movement of switching them to your other side. When this is done they may consume more (could be helpful when getting them to sleep longer) as a result of staying awake.
How Long Should Nursing Sessions Be?
Again, this can vary as each tyke is different. Typically, nursing sessions last over 10 minutes and under 40 minutes. If your newborn is eating for less than 10 minutes, try and swap breasts or keep them alert to suck and feed.
If your infant is feeding for longer than 40 minutes, they may have trouble getting a proper latch and may not be receiving the amount of food they need. You can check this by making sure they are wetting their diapers and going through an adequate amount.
When weaning your munchkin off of nursing, keeping in mind the phrase “don’t offer, don’t refuse” can help. You don’t necessarily need to offer, as you’re trying to stop them nursing, and you don’t need to refuse either, as this could give them a sense of urgency around the idea, making them anxious.
How long should newborns sleep without eating?
How long your child will go between feedings will depend on your child. When they’re newborns and very young, it could be as little as an hour. Keep in mind their bodies are tiny and won’t be able to consume as much food to keep them full for very long periods. However, some can go for two or three hours, and you’ll get to know how long they can go as they get older and you notice their pattern.
How often should I feed my baby with cereals?
Feeding cereal to your infant before they’re ready for solids can present a choking hazard, and if they do consume them, they could have trouble passing them. It’s best to wait until they’re the appropriate age to eat solids.
Knowing the ins and outs of feeding a newborn can be a struggle, especially if it’s your first child. Even if it’s your fifth, every kiddo presents a whole new world of preferences, joys, and challenges.
Lead Product Tester
Julia is the Lead Reviewer at Sleep Advisor, specializing in testing out mattresses and sleep accessories – she’s in the right line of work, because she loves to sleep.