Hands down the most common questions I receive around feeding baby is WHEN to feed them…how OFTEN to feed them… and how to solid food fits in with milk feedings. Seriously… every week on Instagram these questions keep coming up and I think it’s so confusing for parents because typically answers to these are so dependent on your baby’s sleep schedule, how many meals your baby is eating at that time and also how often they are nursing/having milk feedings. That being said, there are some guidelines you can follow to help your baby work up an appetite for solids while still ensuring they get enough milk each day. 

First, I want to say that these are definitely GUIDELINES and not rules you HAVE to adhere to. Your baby’s schedule may be slightly different than the schedules I’m about to show you – that’s ok and in fact…that’s what I expect! Second, schedules may change on occasion due to a gazillion circumstances… what’s important is that you try and keep things routine and be fairly consistent with how far apart you space meals and milk feedings, while still allowing for some flexibility when required. After all, you are still going to largely use your baby’s hunger and fullness cues to determine if you should move up or push back a solid food meal/feeding day to day.  Check out my blog post on feeding cues to look for for babies. You also may have times where meals may be delayed slightly or nap schedules may be thrown off. All in all, use your judgement and aim for consistency when possible. General routines and schedules ARE important with feeding babes because otherwise, not only do you run the risk of overfeeding them or having a hangry baby on your hands, but also the ability to come to the table with a slight hunger leads to acceptance of solid food meals. No baby is going to take to solids (especially new ones) when they are too full and uninterested, or when they are so hungry they can’t concentrate or be patient enough to learn this new task. Also, much like I frequently speak about with toddlers, the goal is not to have a FULL baby all the time. Sometimes we push milk or food so frequently that baby doesn’t have the option of having an empty stomach ever. That becomes their new normal and milk or food can become a fix for every cry or emotion. Again, my post on feeding cues can help here.

I’m going to show you through these schedules what the natural progression is with adding meals and snacks as well. Again, your baby may add meals or snacks a little earlier or some a little later, but generally, you do want to follow these guidelines within a month before/after what’s recommended here because that’s how you advance and keep your baby progressing! The more exposure they have to solid food as the months go on, the more they will gain the skills they need to be competent and healthy eaters by one year of age. It will be natural for your baby to require less and less milk as the months go on in year 1 – this is not a bad thing – although again – we still want them drinking a minimum amount of milk (as outlined in the tables below) to ensure hydration and maximum nutritional benefits. It’s always easier to decrease the number of meals offered before 9 months of age if they aren’t drinking enough milk and it’s always easier to decrease the number of snacks after 9 months of age if they aren’t drinking enough milk – but skipping over offering solids and finger foods and a variety of textures by 9 months so they get the practice, skills and nutrition in can’t be reversed!

If you’re struggling with knowing what to offer, how to offer finger foods and what the “rules” around nutrition for baby are, my online course “Baby Led Feeding – a baby led approach to introducing solids” is what you need! This online course will help your baby progress from purees to finger food swiftly and advance in the self-feeding skills they need over months 6-12 all the while maximizing nutrition and raising an adventurous eater.  

Let’s go through some sample guideline schedules. Note: times listed are suggested START times and not an indication of duration of a meal/event.

6-7 Months

#Meals: 1-2
#Milk feedings: 6-8
Total amount of milk: At least 24 oz.
Milk Feedings: About every 2.5 -3.5 hours based on hunger cues
Solids: About 30 min-1.5 hours after previous milk feeding

6:30/7:00 amWake & milk feeding
7:30/8:30 amBreakfast
9:00/9:30 amNap
10:00/10:30 amMilk feeding
12:30/1:00 pmMilk feeding
1:00/1:30 pmNap
2:30/3:30 pm Milk feeding
5:00/5:30 pmMilk feeding
6:00 pm/6:30 pmSupper
7:30 pm/8:00 pmMilk feed and bedtime routine

8-9 Months

#Meals: 2-3
#Milk feedings: 4-6
Total amount of milk: At least 24 oz.
Milk Feedings: About every 2.5 -3.5 hours based on hunger cues
Solids: About 30 min-1.5 hours after previous milk feeding

By 9 months, the goal is to have them at 3 meals per day. Milk may naturally begin to decrease as you consistently provide this.

6:30/7:00 amWake & milk feeding
7:30/8:30 amBreakfast
9:00/9:30 amNap
10:00/10:30 amMilk feeding
11:30/12:00 pmLunch
12:30/1:00 pmMilk feeding 
1:00/1:30 pmNap
2:30/3:30 pm Milk feeding
5:00/5:30 pmMilk feeding
6:00 pm/6:30 pmSupper
7:30 pm/8:00 pmMilk feed and bedtime routine

10-11 Months

#Meals: 3
#Snacks: 1
#Milk feedings: 3-5
Total amount of milk: 16-24 oz.
Milk Feedings: About every 2.5 -3.5 hours based on hunger cues
Solids: About 30 min-1.5 hours after previous milk feeding or spaced about 2 ½ – 3 hours apart from last solid food meal/snack 

You can begin to add one snack per day here if you like. Milk may naturally begin to decrease as you consistently provide 3 meals a day, especially if they are eating more calories via solids. This is ok!

6:30/7:00 amWake & milk feeding
7:30/8:30 amBreakfast
9:00/9:30 amNap
10:00/10:30 amSnack
10:30/11:00 amOptional Milk feeding
12:30/1:00 pmLunch
1:00/1:30 pmNap
2:30/3:30 pm Milk feeding
5:00/5:30 pmOptional Milk feeding
6:00 pm/6:30 pmSupper
7:30 pm/8:00 pmMilk feed and bedtime routine

11-12 Months

#Meals: 3
#Snacks: 1-2
#Milk feedings: 2-4
Total amount of milk: 16-24 oz.
Solids: About 45 min-1.5 hours after* milk feedings or spaced about 2 ½ – 3 hours apart from last solid food meal/snack

You can begin to make the transition to offering milk from an open cup around this time with 1-2 meals or snacks per day. This means that milk feedings as separate times may begin to be dropped and instead milk can be incorporated into one sit down meal/snack.

6:30/7:00 amWake & milk feeding
7:30/8:30 amBreakfast
9:00/9:30 amNap 
10:00/10:30 amSnack + optional milk feeding or milk in a cup
12:30/1:00 pmLunch
1:00/1:30 pmNap
2:30/3:30 pm Snack + optional milk feeding or milk in a cup
5:30/6:00 pmSupper 
7:30 pm/8:00 pmMilk feeding and bedtime routine

*If you reach a point where your baby still doesn’t have an appetite for 3 meals a day, or is forgoing solids for milk, you can experiment with either offering solids before milk (instead of after), or you can decide if you want to place limits on the number of nursing sessions, such as sticking to just early morning and late evening for example.

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