When to get baby on a feeding routine?
Your baby has been observing the content of your plate with curiosity for a little while now, and maybe even trying to steal a bite! They can also stay seated with little or no support… All good signs that baby is ready! So here you are, phone in your hand, snapping pictures of your precious baby eating their very first meal other than breastmilk or formula! So exciting right?
Ok but now what?
Introducing solids might seem a little blurry for you, and you have questions. How much food should you feed your baby in one meal and even more importantly how often? Does a baby requires 3 to 4 meals a day right away? And does it replace breastmilk or formula?
No panic! This article will debunk for you bite after bite how to proceed with this important milestone. Getting your baby on a feeding schedule can be done progressively, between the moment you introduce solid foods for the first time all the way to 12 month old.
So let’s do this! And remember, starting solids has to remain a fun and enjoyable experience!
How to get baby on a feeding schedule?
Choosing the best time of the day to feed your baby really depends on you and your baby. You might find that breakfast is a better time because you have time, and baby is awake and happy. Or maybe lunch is better because in between two breastmilk feedings… You will soon discover what works for you and will slowly move from one meal a day to 3 solid meals + 1 or 2 snacks a day. Let’s look at what it looks like by age.
- My baby is between 4 to 6 month: The number one rule is to ensure that your baby is indeed ready for solids. Make sure to check for the signs of readiness. Once baby is ready and you have the green light from the pediatrician, you can start by introducing one meal a day, or more like a few spoonful or bites (if doing Baby-led weaning). It is important to offer but not to force feed, follow your baby’s cues! Remember that the beginning is all about exploration. Maybe your baby won’t eat anything and that’s totally fine. Breastmilk or formula remains the principal source of food to nourish themselves and the introduction of solid foods is not to replace it, at least not too quickly, but more to cultivate their curiosity and develop taste and interest in a wide variety of food.
- My baby is between 6 and 9 month old: at 6 month old, chances are your baby is able to crush food between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Some parents decide to introduce baby-led weaning as early as 6 month, but you can introduce whenever you feel comfortable. During this period, your baby will also increase from one meal a day to two + an afternoon snack. By 9 month old you’ll also be able to introduce more textures.
- My baby is between 10 and 12 month old: if you haven’t done so, now is a good time to introduce finger foods and even harder foods by 12 month old. It will also be during that period that baby will now have 3 solid meals a day + one or two snacks. By 12 month old, you can also consider that solid foods is the principal source of food and you can introduce cow’s milk.
How much should I feed my baby?
Determining the best serving size per meal will really depend on your baby’s appetite and mood. Remember to never force feed. meal time needs to remain an joyful experience and this will become especially true in the toddler years. Don’t worry if portion sizes vary from one day to another. But we know that a guide is always useful so we created a tool with average portion sizes by age and by type of food that you can download here.
How long should it take for a baby to feed?
How long your baby needs to eat a meal will really depends on their appetite, time of the day, mood, energy level etc…. Your baby might eat joyfully in a few minutes or sometimes take much longer. What is important to check is that your baby feels and seems content in the long run.
Now you have everything you need to start a schedule
If you need to visualize what this schedule could look like by age, we have a great sample schedule to download for free!
And because feeding and sleep go hand in hand, I recommend as well getting the right routin for nap-time and bedtime for your little one There are great tools to help you log all these new experiences as your baby grows. Our favorite baby tracker app is the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers.