An age-by-age guide to what babies can eat and when
Getting your baby to learn how to eat his first foods can seem like a daunting milestone, but it’s not astrophysics. When the time is right, he’ll figure it out, with a little help from you. Even if you goof once or twice — say, give him fruit before rice cereal — nothing bad is likely to happen. Still, by sticking to the right timing and sequence of your baby’s first “real” foods, you can improve his nutrition and health. Our guide shows you what, and how much, to feed him in his first 12 months.
Best for 4 to 7 months
New foods: Begin iron-fortified rice cereal, mixed with breast milk or formula. Gradually — one new food every few days — introduce other kinds of cereal, such as wheat, bran, or oats, and finely strained, pureed, or mashed fruits and vegetables.
How often: Twice a day
Sample daily menu: These suggestions give you a sense of how much food your baby needs over the course of a day — he may eat more, or less.
– 12 teaspoons of cooked warm rice cereal
– 2 ounces of jarred, mashed apples
– 2 ounces of jarred, pureed carrots
If you’re breastfeeding You’ll need a few nursing bras, nursing pads, a breast pump (the biggest expense here, at $50 to $350), nipple cream, and breast-milk storage bags.
Total: $150 to $500
If you’re bottle-feeding Formula will be the main cost, from $900 to $1200 depending on the type (powdered or ready-to-eat, DHA/RHA-enhanced or not). Luckily, bottles aren’t costly.
Total: $950 to $1,300
Feeding solids: When the time comes (at about 6 months), you’ll need teething snacks, jarred baby food, rice cereal, bibs, and infant tableware — not to mention a good dry cleaner!
Total: $250 to $500
“You should give him veggies every day.”
Babies, like their parents, come with at-times-unyielding wills that decide what they like and don’t like to eat. It’s your job to present appropriate and healthy foods, but whether your baby chooses to swallow them or spew them down at the cat is something you don’t have much say about. As long as she’s drinking breast milk or formula, as long as he’s experiencing the feel of food in his mouth, as long as the doctor isn’t concerned, do yourself a favor and let go of the myth that the kid should eat “right” at every meal. Most children don’t — not in infancy and not beyond. Such is life!
— Cathi Hanauer
Best for 12 months and up
New foods: Add whole cow’s milk to his diet. He’ll need the extra calories and fat until he’s 2; then you can switch to lower-fat or skim milk.
How often: Three or four meals, plus two snacks
Sample daily menu:
– 4 to 8 tablespoons (12 to 24 teaspoons, if you’re counting) of cooked vegetables or fruit, cut into small pieces or pureed
– 4 servings of grain food (a serving is 1/4 slice of bread or 2 tablespoons of rice, potatoes, or pasta)
– 2 servings 1/2 ounce or 1 tablespoon each serving) of cooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs