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Healthy Diet For Infants 0 To 12 Months

What is a healthy diet for infants from birth to 12 months?

A healthy meal plan for infants includes food that keeps them healthy and helps them grow well. Your baby will grow more quickly during the first year of life than at any other time. During the first year of life, babies learn to eat food that will keep them healthy in the future. Babies also develop eating skills, such as using utensils and cups.

Which foods should I avoid feeding my baby?

  • Liquids other than breast milk or formula do not have the nutrients your baby needs to grow. Sweet liquids in a bottle may cause him to get cavities. When your baby is ready to learn to drink from a cup, a small amount of fruit juice is okay. Your baby will get enough liquid by drinking breast milk or formula.

  • Regular cow's milk, goat's milk, and evaporated milk do not have as much iron as your baby needs. They are also harder for him to digest. Do not feed these types of milk to your child until he is 1 year old.

  • Low-iron formula can cause your baby to have low levels of iron in his blood. Your baby needs iron to grow well. Do not give this formula to your baby unless his caregiver tells you to.

  • Raw eggs, honey, or corn syrup contains bacteria that can make your baby sick.

  • Baby cereal or other foods in your baby's bottle may cause him to choke or gain weight too fast. It may also cause your baby to drink less formula or breast milk.

  • Food that can cause your baby to choke includes hot dogs, grapes, raw fruits and vegetables, raisins, seeds, popcorn, and peanut butter.

  • Added salt or sugar is not needed to make your baby's food taste better. Your baby does not prefer to have foods that are salty or sweet because all flavors are new to him.

Which foods should I feed my baby from birth to 4 months?

  • Breast milk gives your baby the best nutrition. It also has antibodies and other substances that help protect your baby's immune system. Ask your caregiver for information about the other benefits of breastfeeding. Babies should breastfeed for about 10 to 20 minutes or longer on each breast. Your baby will usually want to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours when he is first born. Your baby will need 8 to 12 feedings every 24 hours. If he sleeps for more than 4 hours at one time, wake him up to eat.

  • Formula provides all the nutrients your baby needs. Your baby will drink about 2 to 3 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours when he is first born. Formula comes in a concentrated liquid or powder form and needs water added to it. Follow the directions when you mix the formula so that your baby gets the right amount of nutrients. There is also formula that is ready-to-feed and do not need to be mixed with water. There are different types of formulas, such as cow's milk, soy milk formula, and other special formulas.

Which foods should I feed my baby from 4 to 6 months?

Continue to breastfeed your baby or feed him formula from a bottle. He may only want to breastfeed or bottle feed every 4 to 5 hours. He may drink 30 to 40 ounces of breast milk or formula each day. Ask your caregiver when to start giving your baby solid foods from a spoon. He may suggest that you give your baby iron-fortified infant cereal 2 or 3 times each day. Mix a single grain cereal (such as rice cereal) with breast milk or formula. Offer him 1 to 3 teaspoons of infant cereal for each feeding. Sit your baby in a high chair to eat solid foods.

Which foods should I feed my baby from 6 to 9 months?

  • Continue to feed your baby breast milk or formula from a bottle 4 to 5 times each day. Feed him infant cereal 3 times each day. As your baby starts to eat solid foods, he may not want as much breast milk or formula as he did before. He may drink 24 to 32 ounces of breast milk or formula each day.

  • Your baby will be ready to start eating other types of foods. These include strained fruits, vegetables, or meat. Your baby can eat cooked egg yolks, but avoid egg whites. They are hard for him to digest at this age.

  • The best time to give your baby a new food is when he is most hungry, such as in the morning. Give your baby only 1 new food each week. Avoid giving your baby several different foods at the same time. If your baby has a reaction to a food, it will be hard to know which food caused the reaction.

  • When your baby is able to pick up objects, he can learn to pick up foods and put them in his mouth. He may want to try this when he sees you putting food in your mouth at meal time. You can feed him finger foods, such as soft pieces of fruit, vegetables, or well-cooked pasta. Your baby may also be ready to learn to hold a cup and try to drink from it. You may feed your baby a small amount of juice, but it is not needed for a healthy diet.

Which foods should I feed my baby from 9 to 12 months?

As your baby eats more solid food, he may only breastfeed or take a bottle 3 or 4 times a day. He will be interested in eating solid foods in his high chair each time he sees you and other people in the family eat meals. Your baby may eat as much as 6 to 9 tablespoons of soft foods and finger foods, 4 to 5 times each day. As more teeth come in, he will be able to chew soft table foods. Some examples of soft foods are cooked vegetables, soft fresh fruits, breads, noodles, cheese, and soft meats.

What other feeding guidelines should I follow?

  • Avoid propping your baby's bottle. Hold your baby in your arms with his head higher than his body when you feed him. Never prop the bottle to feed your baby while you are in a moving vehicle. Your baby could choke while you are not watching.

  • Use care when heating your baby's milk or food in a microwave. The food may not heat evenly and have spots that are very hot. Your baby's face or mouth can be burned this way. You can warm milk by placing the bottle in a pot of warm water. If you need to warm food quickly, put it in the microwave for a few seconds on a low setting. Shake or stir the food very well. Check to make sure the food is not too hot before you give it to your baby.

  • Do not force your baby to eat. Your baby knows when he has had enough to eat. He may show you that he has had enough by looking around instead of watching you feed him. He may chew on the nipple of the bottle rather than suck on it. He may also cry to get out of the high chair. If you try to get your child to eat more than he wants, you may teach him to overeat. This may also cause him to gain weight too fast.

  • Ask your caregiver about a vitamin D supplement for your baby if you are breastfeeding him. Breast milk does not contain the amount of vitamin D that your baby needs.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Discuss treatment options with your baby's caregivers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.