The first year and a half of your baby’s life is an exciting time full of beautiful milestones, and part of that is navigating the ever-shifting feeding schedule. From 6 to 18 months, your little one will begin the transition from breastmilk or formula to solids.
It can be a daunting process for both parents and babies alike. There are so many questions that you’ll likely have along the way. How much food should my baby eat? What should I feed them? Is my child ready for solids?
As you and your baby learn about introducing solids and weaning together, you’ll find that every feeding schedule is unique. That’s why it pays to be patient –there’s no one size fits all solution here! This process is a slower journey that gradually builds upon the skills both you and your baby learn step by step. So just remember: take your time and enjoy the ride. I promise it will all come together naturally!
But of course, I’ll provide some tips and tricks to help you get started
Keep reading as I break down some of the most important things to consider with your baby’s feeding schedule. We talk about how to introduce solids and provide some examples of an infant and toddler feeding schedule by month.
Signs of Readiness for Solids
The first thing you’ll want to know is if your baby is ready for solid foods.
Babies are most often ready to start incorporating some solid foods into their feeding around 6 months of age. This can really vary depending on your baby, so it can also be helpful to rely on cues and signs of readiness.
Some signs to look for when it comes to baby led weaning include:
- Being able to sit and hold their head up: Before beginning to feed solids, your baby should be able to sit up comfortably and hold their head steady unassisted.
- Losing tongue-thrust reflex: Babies have a natural reflex to push food to the front of their mouths. This is called their tongue-thrust reflex. Once your baby starts to lose this reflex, it could be time to start baby led weaning.
- Chewing: If your baby is starting to chew (even without teeth), they might be ready for solids.
- Reaching for foods: One of the biggest signs your baby is ready for food is that they’re grabbing food items and reaching out for them voluntarily.
Should I delay solids?
If your baby is showing the above signs of readiness for solids, there’s no reason you should delay feeding them solids after around 6 months. But before around 6 months, your baby is likely getting all the nutrients they need from breast milk.
Many people tend to believe that if there’s a family history of allergies, you should wait to introduce solids and potential allergens. However, many studies have shown that introducing potential allergens, like eggs or nuts, earlier on can minimise the risk of developing further childhood allergies. But if you have a family history of allergies or believe your baby is high-risk, make sure to speak with your primary care physician first.
How to start solids
Once your baby shows signs of readiness, it’s time to start adding solids to their meals!
Introducing new foods should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your baby.
Keep in mind that as you start them on solids, your baby will still be feeding on breastmilk and formula for many meals.
Introducing new foods and solids
When it comes to weaning your baby, the best approach is to introduce one food at a time.
This way, you can observe how the baby responds to it and make sure they are reacting well to the new food item. Baby digestive systems are still delicate and may react differently to different textures or tastes compared to adults. More importantly, you’ll want to identify any allergies as quickly as possible to avoid any serious risks to your baby in the future.
Observing your baby’s reactions to certain types of food can help you decide which foods should become regular meals in their diet. What foods do they like? What foods don’t they like?
But if they aren’t taking to a new food item immediately, there’s no need to fret! New foods can be overwhelming and it can take several tries before your baby feels comfortable trying something new. Start with a few bites and provide more over time.
Typically, you’ll want to introduce new items over a couple of days to make sure your baby adjusts well. Once you’ve successfully introduced one new food, you can move on to another.
How to serve solids to babies
As a general rule, when serving solids to your baby all food should be cooked soft so that it can easily smush between two fingers. This helps reduce the risk of choking.
When introducing solids to your baby, always be sure to keep a close eye on them while they chew and make sure they are properly positioned while eating.
Additionally, younger infants who are less than 12 months old are still developing their fine motor skills. So it’s best to serve food in spears that can easily be grabbed by their little hands. As they grow older, you can adjust the types of foods and shapes you feed them to meet their development.
This will make the experience with solids much more enjoyable for both you and baby.
Why Babies Eat So Often
Most full-grown adults eat 3 meals a day with a few smaller snacks. You might have noticed that your little one doesn’t quite match your meal schedule.
This can throw some parents for a loop, but it’s totally normal! Whether it’s milk or solids, babies should and will eat very often throughout the day. Even though they spend a lot of time napping, this time is critical for their growth and development.
Before the age of 6 months, your little one is likely being breastfed by milk or formula as much as 8-12 times a day, even throughout the evening. This will change as you start to introduce solids but even then, you should expect their meal times to be more frequent than adults.
Babies need to eat frequently to provide the necessary nutrients for their growing bodies.
Newborns typically have rapidly growing bones, organs, and muscles so they require more calories for growth and development than you might think.
Infants also can’t eat large portions like adults do, so eating every few hours helps them get enough calories and nutrition in even small amounts of food.
Plus, a baby’s digestive system is still maturing and needs more frequent meals because it can’t handle as much volume in one sitting compared to a fully developed adult digestive system. Ultimately, babies require an increased number of feedings throughout the day in order to be healthy and achieve proper growth.
Signs Your Baby Is Hungry or Full
It’s common for new moms and parents to feel stressed about their baby’s food consumption. But let your baby guide you.
Even if you know your baby should be eating a certain amount, it’s important to listen to your baby’s hunger cues. But of course, young infants can’t easily tell you in words how they’re feeling.
So, how can you tell if your baby is hungry or full? It can be tricky, but there are many ways to help you distinguish your baby’s hunger levels. Taking note of these signs can help parents feed their babies the appropriate amount and keep them happy and healthy.
Signs your baby is hungry
When your baby is hungry, they may bring their hands to their mouth, smack their lips, and reach for foods that aren’t given to them. They might even show signs of excitement when food is around or point toward food when they see it.
Signs your baby is full
On the other hand, when your baby is full they may start turning their head away from the food or push it away. They might close their mouth tightly when offered new food and they may spit out the food already in their mouth.
Other signs to look for
Other good signs that your baby is getting what they need nutritionally is through monitoring general growth and development. They should show energy levels that match their age and also fill their diapers regularly.
Baby feeding schedule by month
6 month old feeding schedule
Breast milk and formula feeding schedule
A 6-7 month old baby should be on a schedule where they get 24-32 oz of formula daily over 5-8 nursing sessions. Or alternatively breastfeed on demand.
Solids feeding schedule
A 6-7 month old baby should start having 1-2 solid meals a day in addition to their milk.
Around 6 months is when you can start introducing solids to your baby’s feeding schedule. (This assumes that they meet all the signs of readiness or it has been okayed by your paediatrician.)
Most babies are ready for solids and to start weaning around 6-8 months. But if your baby isn’t ready for solids yet or shows signs of readiness earlier – that’s perfectly normal. Your schedule may just shift a bit. Every baby develops and grows at different paces. If in doubt, you can always consult your primary caregiver to determine if your baby is ready for weaning.
With baby led weaning, you’ll start introducing solid foods and skip feeding pureed and mashed baby food. This approach allows infants to start self-feeding right away.
With baby led weaning, you place healthy whole foods in front of your baby that they can pick up and eat on their own. This method puts the decision of what, when, and how much your baby eats into their hands, encouraging them to explore different foods and teaching them independence.
Not only is it a more enjoyable process for both the parent and the infant – it exposes your little one to a world of diverse flavours from an early age, heightened exploration skills, a variety of textures and tastes in food, as well as various social experiences that come with eating together around the table.
You can start by adding in one meal of solid food a day to your feeding schedule. You may even start with only a few bites a day until your little one feels comfortable with handling and eating solid foods. At this stage, meals and solid foods are mainly to help your baby adjust to other foods.
Regardless, at 6 months, your baby should still primarily be breastfed or bottle-fed with formula. There should be little to no change in the amount of milk compared to previous months. Even with the addition of solids, breast milk still provides an important level of nutrients for your growing baby. From 6-12 months, your baby is still getting 75% of their nutrition from breast milk vs. 25% from other foods.
At 6 months of age, you should also continue to breastfeed on demand and/or offer a bottle at regular intervals. Usually, feed your baby about 60-90 minutes before offering solid food. This is especially true if you find your little one isn’t loving breast milk or formula as much, once you’ve introduced solids.
On the other hand, if your baby is taking a bit longer to feel comfortable with solids, there’s no need to panic. So if they don’t eat a lot, that’s ok. You can always top off a meal with a bottle if they’re still showing signs of hunger. It’s also ok to replace a solid meal with breast milk or formula occasionally if you and your baby are having a particularly difficult day.
Keep in mind that while cow’s milk can be introduced at 6 months in cooking only, it’s not an appropriate substitute for breast milk or formula.
What to feed a 6 month old baby (the first 2 weeks)
Now that you know you’re ready to start weaning. You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with what to feed your baby.
But I have some good news. Once your baby is ready for solids, you can basically start introducing any foods you like! In general, simple foods are the best place to start, since it helps you monitor how your child reacts to each ingredient. This is also a good time to introduce common allergens to help reduce the likelihood of future allergies.
Some popular foods to start with for 6 month old babies include:
- Steamed broccoli florets
- Steamed carrot spears
- Roasted sweet potato spears
- Sliced plain egg omelettes
The key is that you feed foods that are soft and easily grabbed by the fistful. Your 6 month old likely hasn’t developed a pincer grasp yet, so spears are usually a safe shape. Making foods easy to grab and eat will make the experience more enjoyable and encourage them to try more solid foods.
Once you can see how your baby is doing with these foods you can start adding in all of the amazing recipes for baby led weaning that you will find on my site. This is my favourite roundup of ideas you might love.
8 month old feeding schedule
Breast milk and formula feeding schedule
A 8-9 month old baby should be on a feeding schedule where they get 24-32 oz of formula daily over 4-7 nursing sessions. Breastfeeding should continue to be on demand.
Solids feeding schedule
A 8-9 month old baby should start having around 2 solid meals a day in addition to breast milk.
As your baby starts to grow and eat more solids, you’ll notice that they’re starting to eat more solid meals. However, it might take longer to wean your baby.
At 8 months, it’s all about the demand. Your little one may not be as keen on breast milk or formula once you introduce solids and other foods. But they still need the nutrition, so if they’re fussy, try offering breast milk before other foods. This way, you’re making sure they’re getting all the food and nutrients they need.
When setting your baby’s feeding schedule, aim to keep meals and feeds evenly spaced about an hour or two apart, depending on their hunger levels. Many parents find it helpful to breastfeed immediately upon waking in the morning or right after a nap. Then keeping solid meals in the middle of waking hours.
Remember that you don’t need to have 2 solid-food meals every day. It’s important to stay flexible and rely on hunger cues and your daily schedule to determine your feeding schedule. Especially with baby led weaning, you want your baby to enjoy the process, so schedule meals at a time that is comfortable for them! For example, if you find your baby is falling asleep at the table, it might be better to swap the meal for a different time.
Some babies simply may not transition as easily to solid foods. Everything from texture to taste preference will influence how well they take to new foods, so try not to get discouraged if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you might’ve hoped.
It’s also totally normal to give your baby formula or breast milk alongside certain meals – just make sure you wait a bit before doing so. Offering them a bottle directly after eating may lead your little one to try and hold out for a bottle, instead of giving solids another chance.
What to feed an 8 month old baby
As your baby is introduced to more new foods and gets a better handle on picking up foods, you’ll be able to expand your meal plan even further.
During this time, you’ll likely continue introducing new ingredients and foods, but you’ll also be able to start feeding recipes. For example, hummus with veggies or an omelette with broccoli.
Depending on your baby’s development, they may even be able to grasp spoons so you can feed pre-loaded foods.
Here are some great options to feed your 8-month old baby at meal time:
- Hummus on veggie spears
- Yogurt on a pre-loaded spoon
- Baby pancakes
10 month old feeding schedule
Breast milk and formula feeding schedule
A 10-12 month old baby should be on a schedule where they get 20-30 oz of formula daily over 3-5 nursing sessions. If breastfeeding continue to do so on demand.
Solids feeding schedule
A 10-12 month old baby should be having around 3 solid meals a day in addition to their milk.
Your little baby is growing up! At 10 months, you’ll really start to see your child forming more ‘typical’ eating habits. While they’ll still be breastfeeding several times a day, you will likely be able to move to 3 meals during the day. When building your feeding schedule, you’ll want to alternate between feeds and solid food meals. For example, start the day with breast milk or formula feed, and offer a breakfast of solid foods an hour or so later.
If you are concerned with your baby’s nutritional intake or their weaning progress, make sure to speak to your primary caregiver before making any changes.
What to feed a 10 month old baby
As your baby grows and reaches 10 months, they’re ready to explore the world of self-discovery with feeding! They’ll become more confident in their pincer grasp, giving you an abundance of options when it comes to providing them delicious new foods to try.
This is a great time to start spicing up mealtimes. You can really start to experiment with new recipes with foods that your baby is familiar with.
If you need some inspiration, here are some recipes that will be a hit with your 10-month-old.
- Strawberry, Kiwi, Oat, & Banana Pancakes
- Apple Cinnamon and Raisin Muffins
- Rainbow Fritters
- Salmon Fish Cakes
12 month old feeding schedule
Breast milk and formula feeding schedule
A baby over the age of 12 months no longer needs formula and can transition to cow’s milk as their main drink. It is really important not to give cows milk as your baby’s drink before this time. If you are continuing breastfeeding, you can keep breastfeeding on demand. However, I would switch to breastfeeding after solids rather than before.
Solids feeding schedule
A 12 month old baby should be having around 3 solid meals and 2 snacks along the way. (Particularly if they are no longer breastfeeding.) At the 12-month mark, your baby’s main source of calories should be solid foods.
You should slowly move to 3 meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Arrange your feeding schedule so it aligns with their nap and sleep schedule. You can also feed a few smaller snacks throughout the day to curb any hunger. This will be the last few months before transitioning completely to their toddler feeding schedule.
What to feed an 12 month old baby
After their first birthday, your little one is really starting to explore the exciting food options available to them. As you and your little one enter into their toddler years you’ll likely be able to start sharing meals together, since they’re on a similar schedule.
While it’s exciting to offer even more options to your infant, be sure to continue offering them soft and easily chewable items to protect them from any choking hazards.
Here are some of my favourite recipes you can serve your 12 month old or even yourself!
Finding your perfect baby feeding schedule
From 6-18 months, your baby will go through a huge number of changes when it comes to their eating habits. They’re growing oh-so-quickly so it’s no surprise that you and your baby will need to adapt as they grow into a toddler.
So if trying to find the perfect feeding schedule for your baby feels overwhelming – I get it. It’s only natural to want the best for your baby.
Fortunately, there’s no need to worry about having the perfect feeding schedule. It doesn’t exist! You and your baby will thrive by listening to their hunger cues and being flexible.
Also keep in mind every baby’s progression through their feeding schedule will vary. Even if your little one isn’t matching the schedule outlined here or that you planned, there’s no need to worry. Your baby may have a bit more or less milk or solid meals at different ages.
As long as they are getting the nutrients and energy that their little bodies need, you and baby are doing great!