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Newborn feeding timeline: When to introduce solids

Bringing home your baby is an exciting time for new parents! But how do you know when it’s feeding time? Also, when is it the right time introduce solids? There’s no one timeline for all children to follow, but with these guidelines and tips, you’ll know just when the right time is for your little one.

In the first days after your baby is born, your breasts will produce colostrum, a nutrient-dense substance that plays an important role in building up your baby’s immune system. Colostrum provides everything your baby needs in their first days before milk comes in and you begin breastfeeding.

When your baby comes home, you’ll be feeding them either breastmilk or formula for the first four to six months before you introduce pureed baby food. During this time, your baby will have a natural ability to latch, suck (rooting reflex), swallow and even gag.

Before it’s time to introduce pureed baby food or solids to your baby’s diet, you’ll notice they have the extrusion reflex (also called tongue-thrust reflex) which automatically pushes food out of their mouth. If you try to introduce solid foods and this happens, you’ll know it isn’t the right time.

As your little one grows over their first year, they’ll give you cues as to when it’s the right time to try and introduce them to solid foods.

Feeding timeline for newborns

As you feed your baby over their first few months, you’ll want to pay attention to whether your child is gaining weight, their digestion and their body language while they’re feeding. If they’re not gaining weight, are arching their back or showing signs of irritation, they may be having trouble feeding. However, this isn’t abnormal! Reach out to your doctor or a lactation consultant to discuss breastfeeding tips or other feeding options.

How often should I feed my newborn?

During this time, you’ll want to feed your baby every two to three hours if they’re on breastmilk, or when they show signs of hunger. If your baby is on formula, you’ll feed them every three to four hours, or when hungry.

How much should I feed my newborn?

You’ll also want to feed them only until they are full — never have your baby finish a bottle if they don’t want to. A full day’s serving of breastmilk is about eight to ten feedings. About 32 ounces of formula is considered a full day’s portion as well.

You’ll feed your baby formula and/or breastmilk until your child can sit up (with support) and hold their head upright. When they start showing these traits, it may be time to start introducing them to solid foods.

Baby led weaning

It’s typically time to introduce solids when your baby is between 6 and 8 months old. The key to baby led weaning is that your baby is in control — you’ll follow their cues to know when it’s time to introduce solid foods, when to eat and how much to eat. Your pediatrician will talk with you about baby led weaning do’s and don’ts.

Even though you’re introducing solids during this time, your baby will still get about 80 percent of their nutrients and calories from liquids, including baby foods. In fact, you’ll be feeding your baby breastmilk/formula at least until their first birthday.

You’ll be feeding your baby a mix of solid foods and liquids. They’ll either eat the solid foods before or after the breastmilk/formula.

How to tell if your baby is allergic to a food

When you introduce a new type of food, do it slowly. Bring one food at a time into your baby’s diet and don’t introduce combos until they’ve had each food separately. This will help to narrow down possible allergies.

As you introduce new foods to your baby, take note of the following symptoms, which may indicate an allergic reaction:

  • Changes in breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Face, lip or tongue swelling
  • Flushed skin
  • Hives or welts
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

Wait three to five days between introducing new foods. Doing this will allow you to identify the food that may have caused an allergic reaction or symptoms in your child. If your child experiences a severe reaction to a food, call 911.

Introducing an eating schedule for your baby

When your baby shows excitement for solid foods, try introducing them to a feeding schedule of breakfast, lunch and dinner (without forcing then to eat when they aren’t hungry). This typically happens between 6 and 9 months old.

After your baby is 1 year old, it’s up to you whether you continue to breastfeed or switch to whole milk. Discuss any questions or concerns with your pediatrician when this time comes. This is a fun time! As your baby is introduced to new foods, take pictures (baby + pasta face = great photo) and enjoy this time spent with your little one.

Next steps:
Get breastfeeding tips for new dads 
Learn about breastfeeding support at Geisinger
Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician

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