Starting solids is a whole new chapter in your and your baby's life. If your baby is about 4-6 months now, you are ready to tackle this new exciting period.
Up until now you have probably already adapted a breastfeeding or bottle feeding schedule that you could stick to and know your baby's hunger and satiety signs. But the next challenge is knowing how much and how often to feed your baby solids.
Don't worry. We've got you covered there.
But first I want you to remember this – there are no strict guidelines on the amount or type of food you need to feed your 6-12 month old child.
Yes, there are energy and nutrient intake recommendations per age and gender but the amount of food your baby will eat depends on a whole lot of other factors.
So it's your job to serve the food and your baby's job is to take it from there.
Before you start weaning, I also recommend you check out our Starting Solids Guide.
Per the American Dietetic Association guidelines, food is divided into 6 food groups: grains, dairy, fats/oils, fruit, veggies, protein. Before 1 year old, there are no specific serving recommendations as your baby will still be getting the vast majority of their nutrition from milk/formula at this stage.
However, we do still want to include all food groups in our baby's nutrition wherever possible. So the guidelines below are just that – suggestions on approximately how much of a food group to serve in any 1 meal.
Approximate serving sizes for babies of each food group as as follows:
- Grains: 2-4 tbsp
- Dairy: 1 tbsp
- Fats/oils: 1 tsp
- Fruit: ½ medium fruit (see chart below)
- Veggies: ½ medium vegetable (see chart below)
- Protein: 1 oz (30 g)
How To Use The Meal Planning Baby Nutrition Chart
Use the chart below as a guideline for how much of any given food group to include in a meal.
There's no need to include all food groups in a meal. There's no need to mix 2 food groups together. There's no need to serve all food groups on any given day.
However if you are offering mixed foods, this will provide a guide on how much of each to use. And you can also use this chart to help you ensure you serve a variety of foods over any given week for example.
A few tips
Fats and oils are easy to include and are a great source of calories. Healthy fats are also important for healthy growth and development. So, for example, drizzling a tsp of olive oil over some veggies or meat is a simple way to add them to meals.
Or if you've introduced nuts into your baby's diet you can add a tsp of a nut butter into some oatmeal.
When combining foods, try to avoid mixing dairy with iron-rich foods (e.g. spinach). This is because dairy can reduce absorption of iron, and iron is the one nutrient that is important that babies get from solid foods after reaching 6 months of age (this is why you've likely seen a lot of foods "fortified" with iron).
How Do I Know My Baby Is Eating Enough?
You will know your baby is eating enough by following their hunger and satiety cues. It's as simple as that. Here are some of the signs that they've had enough:
- Turning their head away
- Clamping lips
- Throwing food on the floor
- Spitting food out
- Pushing food away
There might be times when you feel that your baby is not eating enough. But trust them that they are. I know it might be hard. I've been there. But for this period of time, while they are still getting plenty breastmilk/formula, is really a time for them to get used to new foods/textures and start learning to use utensils so your focus should be on that. Having fun at mealtimes and trusting your baby that they will know when enough is enough will help them in the long run.
Although some recommendations say that you should start with 1 meal per day and gradually move from there I immediately started with 2 solids meals per day with my son. The ultimate choice is yours but I've found that 2 consistent solid meals per day provided him a sense of order which was helpful to both of us in making his weaning journey successful.
My recommendations on number of meals and meal timing per month is as follows:
6 months - 9 months
- 2 solid meals
- First solid meal after morning nap
- Second solid meal after the last nap of the day
10 months - 12 months
- 3 solid meals
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner as per your family's schedule
What About Breastmilk/Formula Feeding?
After your baby reaches the 6 month mark and starts eating solids, the amount of breastmilk/formula intake will likely reduce.
It is really individual and as always, you should follow your baby's cues. The main thing you should know is that you need to serve the solid foods as planned and take it from there.
However do make sure that your baby is not overfed on breastmilk/formula before you offer solids. So solids should be offered at least 1-1.5 hours after breastmilk/formula feeding.
The guidelines state that at 6 months your baby will be consuming about 24 oz (710 ml) of formula/breastmilk during the day. This will reduce gradually where all dairy requirements will be coming from other food at 1 year of age. You can still continue breastfeeding past 1 year but formula feedings will be replaced with dairy foods and dairy foods needs to be added to meals for breastfed children – see Toddler Nutrition Chart for more info.
Foods to Avoid Before 1
• Cow’s milk – digestive system not yet adapted
• Low-fat milk and dairy products – cause excessive intake of protein and low intake of essential fats
• Honey – can cause botulism
• Salt – kidneys not sufficiently developed
• Fruit juices – high sugar content
• Unpasteurized products – can contain dangerous bacteria
• Smoked & cured meats / processed food – excessive salt intake
• High mercury fish (shark, fresh tuna, sea bass, halibut, grouper) – excessive intake of mercury
• Chocolate, especially dark – high caffeine content
The meal planning baby nutrition chart is here to help you out and not for your to become obsessed with it. The main thing is to trust your baby, their hunger needs and food choices.
Remember: You are in charge of what you serve and when and they are in charge of what they eat and how much.
If your baby keeps asking for more food, give them more of the food they are asking for. They know what they need.
Click here to download your FREE Meal Planning Baby Nutrition Chart in PDF so you can save it on your phone or print it out and keep it on your fridge. .
Or if you'd like a comprehensive eBook with a complete 6 - 12 month baby feeding schedule with ALL the recipes, click below.
Wean With Confidence
This is so much more than a recipe book. This is a full weaning plan written by a PhD nutritionist for your child's entire first year, based on the latest science. This will take away the mental load of wondering if you're feeding your child the right food. It's what we wish we had when we were weaning our own children.