Ask Judy: How Much Food Should I Be Giving My Baby?

Dear Judy,
I need some advice on how much solid food to give my 7 month old breastfeeding son. I started solids exactly four weeks ago. He gets oatmeal in the morning and a jar of food in the evening. How much baby food does a 7month old breastfed baby need to consume in a 24-hour period? I feed my baby oatmeal in the morning & solids in the afternoon and we breastfeed about 5-6 times a day. Also, when do I graduate him to stage 2 foods? When is it OK to give him mixed jars? His Doctor said that I should give him three meals a day with solids. At his 6 month appointment, my son was 20.2 lbs with only breast milk.

Thanks for your note. For the first year of a baby’s life, all he/she needs is breast milk in order to get the proper nutrition. The only reason to give your baby anything other than breast milk is so that they can experience different tastes and textures. Having said that, most people start their babies on some kind of solid food when they are about 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving your baby exclusively breast milk until age 6 months and then gradually starting solids at that point.

Baby EatingKeep in mind that your breast milk should still make up the majority of your baby’s diet and will fulfill all of his nutritional needs for the first year of his life. Traditionally, in this country, we tend to start our babies on cereals as a first food. This however, is not necessary and is not practiced in other countries. It doesn’t actually matter what your baby’s first food is (meat, cereal, vegetables or fruit). The only thing that matter is the consistency of the food. When your baby is only 6 or 7 months old, you will want to make sure the consistency of the food is smooth or pureed.

Most pediatricians will recommend that you start one new food at a time so that you can look for any possible allergies or reactions that your baby has to a particular type of food. One you have give your baby foods independently, then it is fine to start mixing them together. Stage 2 foods are typically more than one food mixed together in the same jar. The consistency of them is still pretty smooth, so as long as your baby has already tried them separately, then there is no problem giving them together. Stage 3 foods are typically more “chunky” and are meant for older babies who know how to chew or are used to eating food.

There are a few foods that most pediatricians will recommend avoiding during your baby’s first (and sometimes 2nd) year of life. They include peanuts, milk, honey and a few others. Also, if there is anything that you or your spouse are allergic to, it is probably best to avoid giving that food to your baby until they are a little older.

As a mom, you are the best judge of when your baby is ready for the next type of food. Look for their cues and follow their lead. If your baby isn’t ready for lots of food right now, don’t push it. And if they are, then let them explore. But keep in mind, that you should always nurse your baby prior to giving food and don’t worry if your baby isn’t eating a lot of solid foods – he is getting all he needs from your breast milk!

When did you start your baby on solid foods? What was his/her first food? Please leave a comment on this post to share your story!

6 comments to Ask Judy: How Much Food Should I Be Giving My Baby?

  • We did “baby-led solids” (known in Britian, where most of the literature comes from, as “baby-led weaning” – referring to weaning onto solids, not off of breastfeeding) and have been very pleased.

    Basically, the idea is that by six months, babies are quite capable of picking up solid food and putting it in their mouths, so there’s no need for purees, lumps, etc.

    The baby learns to chew and manipulate the food in his mouth before he learns to swallow it, is in control of the type (with what you offer, of course) and amount of food he eats (learning to read his body’s own fullness cues, not being encouraged to finish up a jar) and gets used to a wide variety of tastes and textures.

    More info here:
    .-= Whozat´s last blog ..Daily Peep: Target! =-.

  • We followed a modified practice of baby-led weaning, with “weaning” meaning switching from exclusively breastfed to introducing solid foods (not in the typical US sense of stopping breastfeeding). The idea is that you offer your baby a variety of safe and healthful choices and let him choose what he wants to eat. The foods can just be small pieces of whatever you’re eating, or fresh fruit and steamed veggies. Orthodox baby-led weaning uses no spoons, purees, or parent-led feeding, though sometimes we do help him spoon up yogurt or remind him to try something, and we did try a couple jars of baby food, but they weren’t a hit!

    Mikko was interested in solids about 5 months, but didn’t start chewing and swallowing any until a couple months after that. We did let him start to explore with textures and tastes when he was ready. I think maybe our baby was a little unusual but not out of the norm in that he really preferred breastfeeding over solids for quite a long time. He ate very few solids until ~14 months & then gradually added them in. Even now at 2.5, he sometimes chows down & is sometimes indifferent. It’s helped me to remember that baby stomachs are very small. As I trusted him to know how much breastmilk he needed, I’m now trusting him to know how much food and what kind. I have a lot of hangups around food so am trying not to pass them on. By the way, our son was 30 lbs at 6 months & 35 lbs now, so he was absolutely thriving on breastfeeding! :) It sounds like yours definitely is, too.

    Here are some sites that are helpful:
    Sorry to be long-winded; it’s just something that really worked well for us!
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..Reasons to get behind elimination communication =-.

  • Thanks for this post. I am currently breastfeeding my 8-month-old baby. I feed her solids every day, but not a lot – just little bits of what we are eating. Avocados, bananas, steamed carrots, noodles, etc.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Disneyland with a baby and preschooler : Part II =-.

  • Great post, Judy!

    I’m on baby #3, who is currently not quite two years old.

    With all three I had very similar feeding experiences. They were very eager to have the food I was eating, beginning around 6-7 months. I fed them real food, consistent with their stage of development – smooth first foods like smashed banans or avocados, etc.

    I never bought baby food, nor ever fed them according to a schedule or program.

    For well past the first year mark, food was purely recreational. I would estimate that it was around age 2 before food made up more than 50% of their daily calorie intake… obviously that’s for the older 2 – hasn’t happened yet with #3.

    Like a lot of developmental issues, my conviction has been proven out that they will get there, each in their own good time. We don’t need to pressure them or rush them.
    .-= Tiffany (As For My House)´s last blog ..Top Green Tips =-.

  • Thanks for writing this post! My son is 10 months old, and i’m the only one in my family who has breastfed besides a few of my aunts but they weened before toddlerhood. Anyway, my son hated baby food, and I thought I was doing something wrong. I was worried he would become malnourished. Then, one day, he started eating, and I realized he isn’t stupid…he won’t let himself starve. Some days he will eat lots of solids, other days he wants to exclusively nurse. I wish i had found this post three or four months ago when I was confused and didn’t know what to do, but I know now to just go with the flow.
    .-= lynessence´s last blog .. =-.

  • Neat! I’m pregnant with my second child and can’t wait for the due date, even though I know a few things there’s plenty I don’t. Thanks for the information, you don’t know how much I appreciate it.Thanks!Darla

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