The First 12 Months: A Guide to Infant Feeding (Brochure)

The information in the brochure is based on guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatric Feeding Recommendations.
The First 12 Months: A Guide to Infant Feeding (Brochure) - Articles

Updated: December 5, 2017

Baby’s First Year

The information in the table below is based on the American Academy of Pediatric Feeding Recommendations. These are only guidelines. If your child was born prematurely or has some health problem, this list may not apply. If this is the case, ask your doctor to provide you with an idea of what to expect.

AgeFoodFeeding SkillsPhysical signs
Birth to 3 months
  • Breast milk
  • Iron-fortified formula
  • Turns mouth toward nipple
  • Sucks and swallows
  • Sticks tongue out when anything is placed in mouth
  • Poor head, neck, and body control
4-6 months
  • 1–2 tablespoons of iron-fortified cereal daily; thin with breast milk or forumula
  • Begin with rice cereal; be sure to use a spoon
  • Opens mouth when sees food
  • Up-and-down motions of jaw begin
  • Holds head up
  • Uses hands to pick things up and put them in mouth
7-9 months
  • ¼ to ½ cup iron-fortified cereal daily; include other varieties of cereal
  • Strained vegetables and fruits
  • Progress to thicker, soft, mashed or chopped fruits and vegetables
  • Strained meats
  • Well-cooked egg yolk
  • Unsweetened juice from cup (no more than 4 ounces daily); dilute adult juices beginning with apple
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Tongue moves food from side to side
  • Can pick up large pieces of food
  • Begins sitting on his/her own
  • Eyes and hands work together
  • Use of cup improves
  • Chews soft table foods
  • Eats finger foods
10-12 months
  • Thicker cereal; increase amount according to appetite
  • Continue to limit unsweetened juice to 4 ounces daily
  • Finger foods such as tiny pieces of cooked vegetables; soft fruit; cooked meat; well-cooked beans; egg yolk or tofu; chopped noodles or rice; bite-size pieces of toast, plain crackers, or soft tortilla
  • Starts spoon feeding self; by 12 months is completely spoon feeding self and drinking all fluids from a cup
  • Uses hand to hold cup
  • Pulls up and walks

Activity Tips

  • Remember to always hold your baby when feeding with a bottle.
  • Most infants prefer looking at people rather than things. They can distinguish shapes and forms, especially faces. Be sure to look into your baby’s face and let him/her look into yours.
  • Talking, reading, singing, and humming are great ways to interact with your baby. Babies especially enjoy sounds that they can make through their own noises and babbling.
  • Playful touching and massaging will teach the baby about tenderness, security, and attention. As parts of the body are touched or stroked, the brain maps the location of the body parts. This helps the baby develop body awareness, which will be very important later.
  • Motion can be very comforting to your baby. It also stimulates learning. Use movements such as gentle and slow rocking or swaying; up-and-down motions like bouncing or lifting; and side-to-side or circular motions like placing the infant over a large ball and slowly moving the ball back and forth.

Some Important Things to Remember

  • At feeding time, you and your baby are learning about each other. Relax, talk to your baby, and hold your baby close. Love is very important for your baby’s health. The first year of a baby’s life is one of very rapid growth. The types of foods your baby needs will change during this first year.
  • Bottles are for water, breast milk, or formula only.
  • Avoid adding cereal to formula or breast milk in a bottle. It encourages overeating, which may lead to obesity and feeding problems.
    Solid foods should always be fed to the baby using a spoon.
  • When it’s time, offer unsweetened 100 percent juice to your baby. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks such as Kool-Aid, Gatorade, tea, or soda.
  • During the first few months, hold your baby when he/she is eating. Do not prop bottles. Propping the bottle promotes tooth decay and ear problems and may increase the chance of choking.
  • Add one new food at a time. Wait for about 3 days before offering another new food. This gives your baby time to adjust to the new foods. If your baby has a reaction to a food, it will be easier to determine which food may have caused the reaction.
  • Never force your baby to finish a bottle or a portion of food. Your baby is the best judge of how much to eat. Overfeeding can lead to weight problems. Watch for fullness cues such as turning away, spitting out the food, or crying.
  • Throw away any breast milk or formula left in a bottle after a feeding. Avoid waste by mixing only enough for one day.
  • Remove only enough baby food from the jar for one feeding. Throw away food left in the feeding dish. Food left in the container should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Prepared by Julie Haines, assistant coordinator, Nutrition Links.