Our Child Feeding Guide

Our Child Feeding Guide

Care Guides

For every stage of eating, most parents don’t know where to begin! That is where we come in. Here’s a step by step guide developed by Summer Health feeding experts, to help you through each child’s age and stage!

Ages 0 to 6 months

When your newborn makes their introduction into the world, feeding can become a round-the-clock commitment. It is also the opportunity to bond with your new one, and in time you will both find a routine that works for you. Here are a few tips for feeding your newborn:

  1. Stick with breast milk or formula. Other than rare exceptions, Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. If breast milk isn’t possible, infant formula is the best alternative. Do not feed your newborn cereal, water, juice or other fluids without talking to their pediatrician.
  2. Feed your newborn on cue. Most newborns need 8–12 feedings a day. This means that they eat every 2–3 hours. You can identify their readiness to eat by these signs:
    Moving their hands near their mouth
    Sucking on their fists or fingers
    Lip smacking
    • Fussing and crying
  3. When to stop feeding. When your baby stops sucking, closes their mouth or turns away from your nipple or the bottle, they may be full. Try burping your newborn and waiting a minute before trying to feed them again. As your baby gets older, you may notice they eat more milk in a feeding, and need less feedings during the day.

Do you have more questions about your newborn’s feeding? You can speak with a licensed pediatrician today at Summer Health.

Establishing your routine

The best recipe for a happy newborn can be to get them on a routine. We recommend the free Nara Baby Tracker, a shared hub for getting your newborn in a routine. You can track feedings (breast milk, formula or both), naps, diapers, and pumping sessions for your baby — so you can provide a comforting and predictable pattern for your little one.

Ages 6 to 12 months

At this age, breast milk and infant formula are still the main sources of nutrition for your child. However, during this time, solid foods will start to make up an increasing part of their diet. Here is what you should keep in mind.

  1. Signs that they are ready. Your baby can hold their head. Additionally, they have lost the tongue thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of their mouth.
  2. Start small. Give 1 or 2 tablespoons of food, and watch for 1–2 signs that your baby is still hungry. You can also try baby-led weaning, a method of introducing solid food to babies whereby purées and spoon-feeding are skipped entirely in favor of finger foods that a baby self-feeds.
  3. Create Balance. Solid foods are introduced over time and will gradually become a bigger part of his or her diet. As your child gets older, he or she may eat different amounts of food each day. This is normal!
  4. Feeding and drinking patterns. Give your child something to eat or drink about every 2 to 3 hours, or about 5 or 6 times a day. This will give your child about 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks every day.
  5. Watch for food allergies. This may include hives or rashes, vomiting or diarrhea immediately after trying foods.

If your baby does not seem ready to eat, that is absolutely ok! If you have questions about how to know if your baby is ready, reach out to a doctor who specializes in feeding at Summer Health today.

Ages 1 to 2 years

At one year old your child has started to learn to eat on their own. Your baby may even be eating the same foods you are for dinner — even the spicy curry! At this age, solid foods are your baby’s main source of nutrition and energy.

Mom can continue breastfeeding as much as baby wants, and breastmilk still provides important nutrition and disease protection. Here are some tips on what to include to make sure meals are packed with nutrition:

  1. Include protein daily. This may include milk, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, nuts and legumes (like chickpeas, lentils or peas).
  2. Feeding patterns. Your baby can take between three quarts to one cup of food 3–4 times a day, and two snacks in between. If you are no longer breastfeeding, be sure to also include 1–2 cups a day of whole milk.
  3. Foods to avoid. Avoid junk food and soft drinks. Keeping away from factory-made snacks like cookies, cakes, and chips. Avoid high amounts of salt, sugar, fat and chemicals from your baby’s diet.
  4. Teaching your baby how to eat on their own. Give your baby their own bowl of food. At first, they will be slow and messy, but over time their coordination will improve and they will need less of your support to eat.
  5. Understand no baby is the same. There are many patterns of feeding options and each child will take their own journey.

What to do when your child refuses to eat.

Make sure your baby is hungry at mealtimes by balancing snacks about 2 hours before and after a meal. Whether you are still breastfeeding or giving your baby milk, we recommend they drink after a meal so they are not too full. At this age, babies should eat solids first.

If your baby continues to refuse solids, mix in a healthy food they enjoy with foods they are refusing. Trying a combination of different textures can also be helpful in identifying what your baby likes to eat. Over time, baby’s preferences will change, and continuing to mix food may help.

If your baby still refuses to eat, don’t worry! Stay calm and continue to give your baby positive attention. Just take their food and package it away for later.

If you have concerns about your baby getting enough nutrition, reach out to Summer Health and we will connect you to a pediatrician who will respond to your questions in 15 minutes.

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Ali Alhassani

Harvard Medical School

Boston’s Children’s Hospital

Written By

Emily Boschwitz

Last Updated

January 20, 2023

Summer makes