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How Much Breastmilk or Infant Formula Does Baby Need After Starting Solids?
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What to know about starting solids while also feeding breastmilk or formula
Does starting solids affect the amount of breastmilk or infant formula baby needs?
Should I follow a feeding schedule with solids?
How do I know if my baby is full?
While breastmilk and/or infant formula will be your baby’s main source of nutrition until the age of 1 year,2 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be introduced to foods, in addition to their breastmilk or infant formula intake, when they are around 6 months old.13
Starting solids is a complementary form of nutrition for your little one and is not intended to replace breastmilk or infant formula.7
Learn more: Introducing Solids: Signs of Readiness
Should I feed my baby solid foods on a schedule?
Many parents wonder at what times during the day they should be offering those first bites of solid foods. And how do these solids fit into a meal pattern that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner while continuing breastmilk and/or formula feedings?
Because every baby is different, there are no rigid recommendations. Over time, you and your little one will begin to develop a routine that works for you and your family.
Just like with breastfeeding and formula feeding, it’s best to follow your little one’s lead when it comes to solid foods: Feed when they show hunger and stop when they indicate they are full (or no longer interested in eating).6
As a starting guide, offer breastmilk or formula separate from solids. This helps ensure baby isn’t too full from solids to consume their nutritious drink, or too full from the milk feeding to be interested in solids.
Example solid food feeding times:
Breastmilk or formula feeding when baby wakes in the morning, then roughly an hour later offer a solid food breakfast.
Provide another milk feeding after their nap, followed by a solid food lunch an hour later, and so on.
*See the final section of this article for sample feeding schedules from when your child first starts solids through when they turn 1 year.
How to introduce solids foods to baby
These first few weeks of feeding are not as much about calories, but rather allowing baby to learn how to eat as well as begin accepting and enjoying new flavors.
This is why it’s important to keep formula and/or breast milk feedings the same (in amount and frequency) to continue meeting their nutrition and calorie needs.
Whether you are offering purees or baby led weaning, introduce small amounts of solids just once per day to help your little one get used to the act of moving thicker foods around in their mouth and swallowing.7
At first, your little one may just play with the food, look confused, or even refuse!3
Introducing new foods slowly also helps you know if your little one has an adverse reaction to a specific food.7
As your little one gets used to eating and begins enjoying it more, you can increase the amount you offer at each meal in response to their appetite and hunger cues.
How many times per day to offer solids to your baby:
Starting solids: Offer food once per day
Between 6 and 8 months: Offer foods 2 to 3 times per day
After 9 months: Offer foods 3 to 4 times per day4
How much solid foods to give your baby each time they eat:
Start with just 0.5 to 1 ounce of food total, then slowly work your way up to eventually offering about ¼ cup of each food at each meal.
Some babies only get to this larger amount of food as they get closer to 9 months, others may eat this amount sooner. Your little one may eat more or less than this amount depending on their hunger.
How much breastmilk or infant formula will my baby drink when starting solids?
Remember that solid foods at this point are only to learn how to eat – meals are not yet a big part of your child’s nutrition or calorie intake.7
In the first few months of starting solids, your baby will not reduce how much breastmilk or formula they drink per day.
Between 6 and 9 months
Breastfed babies will typically breastfeed at least 6 to 8 times per 24 hours taking about 3 to 5 oz breastmilk per feeding.2
Formula-fed babies will typically take 3 to 5 bottles, taking about 7 to 8 ounces of formula per feeding.
Between 9 and 12 months
Breastfed babies may gradually reduce how often they drink breastmilk per day. Some babies will continue to breastfeed 6 to 8 times per day while others may slowly reduce to 4 to 5 times per day.12 Offer 4 to 6 ounces breastmilk per bottle.
Formula-fed babies will consume about 3 bottles per day with 7 to 8 ounces of formula in each.
It is important to note that while formula-fed and breastfed babies drink on average the same total ounces per day, they tend to take different amounts at each feeding/bottle.
As you can see above, formula-fed babies eat less frequently but have more per bottle (6-8oz); breastfed babies eat more often and have less per bottle/feeding (3-5 oz), even up to a year old.
If you are bringing your little one to daycare, be sure to tell them how many ounces of breast milk or formula your child takes per bottle. This will help them know what to expect and help prevent over- or under-feeding.
Need some guidance on starting solids with your baby? Reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday – Friday 8am - 6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Follow your child’s hunger and fullness cues: Responsive Feeding
Rather than forcing your child to eat or drink a certain amount, respond to their hunger and fullness cues.6
Pressuring your child to take another bite or continue to drink when they don’t want to often leads to overeating, mealtime stress, and rejection of foods later.
Responsive feeding is watching your child and responding to their feeding cues: Offer more food if they seem hungry or stop feeding if they are done with the meal.
The same goes for formula or breastmilk bottles: Let them drink as much, or as little, as they feel they need.
Doing this throughout their childhood will help them strengthen their instinctive internal hunger and fullness cues, help them understand how to self-regulate how much they eat and drink, as well as help promote a positive relationship with food.67
Remember that when your child is first starting solids, these foods are mostly to help them learn to eat and accept new flavors and textures, but not as much for calories.
Between 6 and 9 months, continue to offer breastmilk and formula as often as usual to help ensure your little one is getting the nutrition they need.
After 9 months your little one may gradually reduce how much breastmilk or formula they take.
Sample feeding schedules after starting solids
*All foods below are examples. Be sure to introduce as many new foods as possible, in the texture your child can handle, during the first year to help get them off to a great start with solids.
Continue to repeatedly introduce foods, especially if your little one is taking longer to get used to that specific taste or texture.
Note that the schedule of breastfeeding or formula feeding is also an example. Continue to follow a pattern that works best for your child and allows them to grow and develop well.
6 months old: Introducing solid foods
7 am: Breastmilk or Infant Formula Feed
8 am: 1-2 Tablespoons of mashed/pureed avocado or an iron-fortified cereal
Continue nursing/formula feeding as usual
A few days later or a few weeks later
7 am Breastmilk or Formula Feed
8-8:30 am: A few tablespoons of iron-fortified oatmeal and a few tablespoons of pureed apple
Continue nursing/formula feeding as usual
Starting around 6 to 8 months
7 am: Breastmilk or Formula Feed
8-8:30 am: Few Tablespoons of iron-fortified baby cereal and half a mashed banana
10 am: Breastmilk for formula feed
1 pm: Breastmilk for formula feed
4 pm: Breastmilk for formula feed
5-5:30 pm: 2-4 Tablespoons pureed beef, 2 Tablespoons of mashed soft peas and carrots or pureed*
Continue to breastfeed or formula feed as usual
As your child becomes proficient at eating solids and is ready for more textures, be sure to advance from purees to lumpy mashed foods, then onto finely chopped, soft solids as their eating skills progress.
9 to 12 Months:
6:30 am: Breastmilk or formula feed
7:30-8 am: Scrambled egg, whole grain toast strips with a thin coating of peanut butter*
10:00 am: Breastmilk or formula feed
12 Noon: flaky pieces of white fish* or soft shredded chicken with pieces of softened (cooked) apple strips or fresh, soft mango
3:30 pm: Breastmilk or formula feed
5 pm: Meatball pieces and chopped pasta tubes with sauce, soft steamed green beans
Continue to breastfeed or formula feed as usual8
The patterns above is not set in stone – listen to your baby and change it as needed!
*Peanuts and fish are allergens. Chat with your child’s pediatrician before introducing top allergens to your baby. The top 9 allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and sesame seeds.9
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