How your baby's food sources should change in the first year
During your baby's first year — and well beyond — proper nutrition is essential. Supplying your baby with vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals fuels your baby's physical as well as cognitive development.
The foods, vitamins, and minerals your growing baby needs
In the first year, approximately 75% of your baby's brain growth takes place. A newborn's vision is often blurry, but by 6 months your baby sees the world pretty much as you do. His immune system, which is not fully developed at birth, continues to strengthen. Proper nutrition drives all of these advancements.
Like you, your infant needs a varied diet to develop and stay healthy, but these needs change as your baby grows. The following is a comprehensive list of the foods and nutritional needs your baby will go through in the first year.
|Food ||Starting age ||How much daily ||What are good sources ||Why it is important |
|Breast milk or formula1,2,3 ||Birth–1 week ||6–10 feedings of 2–3 fl oz each ||Breast milk or formula forms the cornerstone of nutrition in this first year, providing the protein, fat, calcium, vitamins, and minerals your baby needs. ||Nutrients in breast milk or formula enable your baby to develop a strong immune system and support brain, muscle, bone, and organ growth |
|1 week–1 month ||7–8 feedings of 2–4 fl oz each |
|1–3 months ||5–6 feedings of 4–5 fl oz each |
|3–6 months ||4–5 feedings of 6–7 fl oz each |
|6–9 months ||3–4 feedings of 7–8 fl oz each |
|9–12 months ||3 feedings of 7–8 fl oz each |
|Cow's-milk-based foods ||10–12 months ||1 serving (1/2 cup yogurt or 3/4 oz cheese) || |
- Whole-milk yogurt
- At 12 months introduce whole milk (according to AAP).
|Provides calcium, vitamins A and D, and protein for growing strong bones |
|Grains and cereals ||4–6 months ||3–4 Tbsp || |
- Iron-fortified baby cereals, starting with single-grain cereals first
- Finger foods, such as teething biscuits, pasta, puffs, and bread
- At 8–12 months, introduce crackers.
|Offers complex carbohydrates, vitamins (B complex), minerals (zinc and magnesium), and fiber your infant needs to fuel activity such as rolling, crawling, and walking |
|6–12 months ||4 Tbsp or more |
|Vegetables ||6–8 months ||1 Tbsp per meal, working up to 4–5 Tbsp per day || |
- Strained vegetables from 6–8 months
- At 8 months, introduce vegetable pieces the size of child's thumbnail with the consistency of canned cooked carrots.
|Delivers vitamins A, B, and C, trace minerals, fiber, and protein |
Vitamin C helps absorb iron.
Vitamin B strengthens the immune system and nervous system and helps with muscle and cell growth.
Vitamin A helps with vision, while fiber assists in digestion.
|8–10 months ||4 Tbsp or more |
|10–12 months ||4 to 8 Tbsp |
|Fruit ||6–8 months ||1 Tbsp per meal, working up to 4–5 Tbsp per day || |
- Strained fruits or Stage 1 fruits
- At 8 months, introduce cooked fruit pieces, the size of child's thumbnail or smaller, with the consistency of a baked apple.
|Provides vitamins and fiber important to digestive well-being and overall health |
|8–10 months ||4 Tbsp or more |
|10–12 months ||8–12 Tbsp |
|Meat/Protein ||8–10 months ||1 Tbsp ||Cooked, pureed meats or poultry, cheese cubes, tofu, or egg yolk ||Ensures the protein (as well as iron, B vitamins, and zinc) needed to build muscle |
|10–12 months ||2–4 Tbsp |
|Water ||4–12 months ||4 oz or more || ||Water is important for staying hydrated to help keep the excretory system functioning properly. It also helps your baby develop a taste for this basic necessity |
By providing these foods and nutrients during the first year — in the timeframes listed — you'll be giving your baby the nutrition needed to develop a strong mind and body. For more information on providing your baby the right nutrition for the first year, go to Feeding Expert now.