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How Much Food Does My Child  Really  Need?

Food recommendations from NYC-based nutritionist Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D.
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Sometimes, it seems like your tot exists on air. Is that really enough food to keep her going? The good news: Little ones need to eat a lot less than you think. Here are some guidelines, from mom of two and New York City-based nutritionist Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D. (Just remember that all kids are different, so yours may eat more or less than these amounts.)


Birth to 3 months:

  • In the first week, babies on formula typically drink 1 to 2 oz. about six to 10 times a day. (Breastfed babies feed every few hours during the first few weeks, with longer stretches in between as they get older).
  • From two to four weeks, formula-fed infants typically drink 2 to 4 oz., seven times a day.

  • In the second and third month, expect your baby to consume around 4 to 6 oz. about five to seven times a day.

4 to 6 months:

Liquids: About four to seven bottles daily; 4 oz. per feeding. If you’re breastfeeding, nurse whenever your baby is hungry. As he gets older, he will breastfeed less often.

Cereal: At around six months, introduce iron-fortified, ‬single-grain cereals. (Your baby’s natural reserves of iron begin to deplete at around 6 months.) Start with one teaspoon of dry rice cereal mixed with 4 to 5 teaspoons of expressed breast milk or formula. Gradually thicken the consistency and increase to one tablespoon of dry cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. "Offer it twice a day, but don’t expect your baby to eat much at first," says Glassman.

6 to 8 months:

Liquids: About four or five bottles per day, 6 to 8 oz. at a time.

Cereal: Mix 3 to 9 tablespoons of infant cereal with breast milk, formula, or water for two or more feedings daily‬.

Solids: Your baby is ready! "Introduce new textures slowly. Good starters are mashed bananas, mashed avocados, pureed or strained fruits like bananas, pears, apples, and apricots," says Glassman. Start with one teaspoon of fruit two to three times per day, gradually increasing to ¼ to ½ cup per feeding. Also offer one teaspoon of veggies two to three times per day, gradually increasing to ¼ to ½ cup perfeeding.

8 to 10 months:

Liquids: About three to four bottles per day, for a total of 16 to 32 oz.

Cereal: Feed your baby about ¼ to ½ cup i‬ron-fortified infant cereal at each meal.

Solids: ‬Your baby can have about ½ to 1 cup of pureed fruits and veggies a day, ¼ to ½ cup non-pureed fruit, ¼ to ½ cup non-pureed vegetables, ‬¼ to 1/3 cup dairy, 3 to 4 oz. non-citrus juices, and 1/8 to ¼ cup protein (pasteurized cheese cut into small pieces, cooked lentils, pintos, or black or red beans). Start to introduce pea-size pieces of meat (like cooked chicken, turkey, beef, and pork). You no longer have to puree veggies: "Just cook until soft or mash up soft foods like bananas and avocados," says Glassman. You can also serve finger foods like small o-shaped cereals and small pieces of cooked pasta, as well as dairy foods like yogurt and cottage cheese.

10 to 12 months:

Liquids: About three to four bottles per day, for a total of 16-24 oz.

Solids: A well-rounded daily menu includes ¼ to ½ cup rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or iron-fortified cereal;¼ to ½ cup fruit; ¼ to ½ cup vegetables; 1/3 cup dairy; 1/8 to ¼ cup protein foods; and 3 to 4 oz. non-citrus juices. "At this point, your baby can try eating most of the foods you eat now, if they are cut up or mashed properly so that he can safely chew and swallow," says Glassman. ‬

If your child is 1 to 3 years old:

Liquids: Toddlersneed about 4 cups or more of total beverages per day, which includes drinking water and milk. (Limit fruit juice to 4 to 6 oz. daily.)

Food: "On average, your toddler should consume about 1,300 calories a day to promote normal growth and weight gain," says Glassman. Kids this age ‬typically need 2 cups of dairy (milk, cheese, or yogurt); 5 ounces of grains (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, crackers); 4 ounces of protein; 1½ cups of fresh or cooked veggies; and 1½ cups of fresh or cooked fruit.

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 139reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by My baby boy is 8 months old. I have three other children, ages 16, 10 and 6. Each one ate differently. My 8 month old was the first one to try food early, at 4 months. I strongly believed not to feed your baby until 6 months because of digestive reasons. I nursed all of them. My baby Thomas, 8 months old, was the shortest nurser (2 months). My 6 year old nursed 10 months(my longest). I was so sad to stop, but having four children, nursing took a lot of time and energy.You just know when baby is ready to eat. Maybe because he has so many siblings he was eager to try. I now know it is a mothers instinct that really knows when baby is ready. But do not feed your baby early because it is fun or cute. babies can get belly aches, gas, colic and discomfort from feeding too early. Baby Thomas started out with a tablespoon of infant oatmeal. Because of constipation in the family I stayed away from rice cereal all together and started off with prunes for his first fruit. I feed him only 5 ounces of formula in his bottle at a time. Because he now eats oatmeal cereal in the morning, two small snacks and a vegetable stage 2 baby-food for supper he does not need any more than 5 ounces when he cues for "ba ba". His weight at the doctor is at fifty percent, which is perfectly average. Seems mother instincts of feeding is correct. I am just solemnly sad and miss nursing, it was a wonderful bond. June 20, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by great article. i always worry about when i should be upping my daughters feedings. she just turned 3 months and is still at 4 oz. will offer her 5 and see if she wants it! May 5, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by very good to know the correct amount my mom had me worried that i wasnt giving her enough liquids but im happy to learn im doing things right April 22, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Very reassuring everyone has been telling me im feeding my daughter too much she is 2 months and drinks 5 5 oz bottles a day. According to this article that is normal :) April 9, 2014
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