As a new parent, the birth of your child presents many challenges. For one, after nights of peaceful and uninterrupted sleep, your little one may suddenly start waking up and crying in the middle of the night. This starts a new, difficult chapter for many parents—figuring out how to put their babies back to sleep.

However, most parents are not aware that nutrition can affect the amount and quality of sleep your baby might get. In fact, giving the right food choices for your infant is extremely important in his or her development and growth. This will eventually help your little one sleep through the night.

And while there’s no one-size-fits-all guide on feeding your baby, simply understanding what he or she is going through can greatly help you in making the appropriate food choices. In this infographic, Nurture Parenting breaks down each stage in your baby’s first year and shows which food choices to give or avoid.

An Age-by-Age Feeding Guide on Baby Food Choices

0-4 Months

On the day your baby was born, his or her stomach is only as large as a marble. In order to seek nourishment, he or she may latch on your breast.

  • What to Feed

These two food choices are already filled with all the necessary nutrients your baby needs.

  1. Breast milk
  2. Formula
  • How Much Per Day

To aid in your baby’s development and growth, you may need to feed him or her about 7-9 times per day. Do keep in mind that there’s no fixed number of feedings required daily—it’s best to feed your little one on demand.

  • Foods to Avoid

Your baby’s digestive system is not physically developed enough to handle the following food choices.

  1. Solid food
  2. Cow’s milk
  3. Juice

Did You Know? Introducing solid foods early in your child’s birth may result in poor feeding experiences and increased weight during infancy and early childhood.

  • Essential Tips
  1. New babies under 6 weeks may feed 2-4 hourly especially during a growth spurt and overnight. It is not necessary to wake your baby to feed during the night and most babies need 1-2 night feeds at this age.
  2. As your baby grows, he or she may need to take in more milk or formula. This is also the time when a predictable feeding pattern starts to show.
  3. If your infant is still hungry after feeding, he or she may be experiencing a growth spurt. Follow such hunger cues and continue feeding your little one.

4-6 Months

There is no need to introduce solid foods yet at this early age. However, if your baby can hold his or her head up or weighs at least 13 pounds (6 kilos), you may want to begin feeding your little one with soft foods.

  • What to Feed

By the time your baby turns 6 months old, his or her natural supply of iron and vitamins may have already been depleted. That’s why it’s best to introduce foods filled with these nutrients. 

  1. Breast milk
  2. Formula
  3. Semi-liquid, iron-fortified cereal e.g. porridge oats, quinoa flakes made with baby’s usual milk or full cream cows milk
  4. Pureed fruit (apples, bananas, and peaches)
  5. Pureed vegetables (squash, sweet potatoes)
  • How Much Per Day

Mix a teaspoon of cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breastmilk or formula. Its consistency should be the texture of custard or yoghurt.

For pureed food, start with a teaspoon then slowly increase its amount to a tablespoon.

  • Foods to Avoid
  1. Citrus
  2. Large chunks of food
  3. Honey
  4. Raw Egg
  5. Chilli and spices

Did You Know? Citrus fruits can irritate a baby’s stomach and cause severe rashes. This ultimately affects his or her sleep.

  • Essential Tips
  1. Introduce one new food at a time and give your infant time (at least 3-5 days) to adjust. This would help you figure out what specific foods cause allergic reactions.
  2. When preparing homemade baby foods, avoid adding sugar or salt as it may lead to obesity later in life and kidney problems.
  3. For pureed fruits and vegetables, make sure to remove all seeds or piths to avoid choking.

6-8 Months

Once your baby turns 6 months old, he or she may begin teething. This is the perfect time to introduce solid foods.

  • What to Feed
  1. Breast milk
  2. Formula
  3. Iron-fortified cereal (barley, oats)
  4. Pureed or strained fruit (apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, and pears)
  5. Pureed or strained vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes)
  6. Pureed legumes (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils)
  7. Pureed meat (beef, chicken, pork and liver)
  8. Pureed tofu
  • How Much Per Day

For cereals, your baby can take in as much as 3 to 9 tablespoons in three feedings. But make sure to limit the intake of meat and legumes to a 1/3 of each meal.

  • Foods to Avoid
  1. Raw Egg
  2. Honey
  3. Whole Nuts
  • Essential Tips
  1. The amount of breast milk an infant takes decreases as his or her intake of solid foods increase. However, at this age, breast milk still remains an important source of nutrients.
  2. If you have just started with solid feeding, make sure to give your baby extra water at each meal in a cup.
  3. Feed all food (except formula) with a spoon. This would help your baby learn how to eat with a spoon.

8-10 Months

At 8 months old, your baby would start picking up objects with his or her hands. Your little one may also have the tendency to put everything inside his or her mouth. 

  • What to Feed
  1. Breast milk
  2. Formula
  3. Iron-fortified cereal (barley, oats, mixed cereals)
  4. Mashed fruits (apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, and pears)
  5. Mashed vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes)
  6. Protein (diced or small chunks of meat, poultry, tofu, beans)
  7. Finger foods (puffs and dry cereal, scrambled egg bits, bread, teething biscuits)
  8. Pasteurised cheese, cottage cheese
  9. Lots of good fats in each meal – 50% of each meal should be good fats e.g. butter, olive oil, coconut oil, cheese, cream, peanut or almond nut butter, avocado etc.
  10. Introduce finger foods
  • How Much Per Day

Feed at least 1/2 to 1 cup each of solid food at each meal. For protein-rich foods, 3 to 4 tablespoons are recommended.

  • Foods to Avoid
  1. Hot dogs
  2. Honey
  3. Raw Egg

Did You Know? Honey should not be given to babies before they are 1 year old.  It can cause infant botulism.

  • Essential Tips
  1. Introduce a wide variety of foods into your baby’s diet. This helps them develop good eating habits later in life.
  2. Do not limit your baby’s cholesterol and fat intake. These are needed for brain development and growth.
  3. It is important to closely watch your infant while he or she is eating. Make it a habit to keep your baby seated while eating.

10-12 Months

As your baby turns 10 months old, he or she can swallow food easily. This is also the time when your infant starts using a spoon to feed himself or herself.

  • What to Feed
  1. Breast milk
  2. Formula
  3. Iron-fortified cereal (barley, oats, mixed cereals, wheat)
  4. Diced or sliced fruits and vegetables
  5. Protein (small chunks of meat, poultry, tofu, boneless fish, beans)
  6. Finger foods (puffs and dry cereal, scrambled egg bits, bread, teething biscuits)
  7. Pasteurised cheese, cottage cheese, unsweetened yogurt
  8. Combo foods (beans and broccoli, lasagna, casseroles)
  • How Much Per Day

Feed 1 to 1 ½ cup each of fruits and vegetables. Giving 4-5 tablespoons of protein-rich foods is necessary for your little one’s growth and development. Increase your baby’s intake of dairy to at least ½ cup a day.

  • Foods to Avoid
  1. Candies and chocolate
  2. Raisins
  3. Popcorn

Did You Know? Chocolate contains a significant amount of caffeine. As such, avoid feeding it to your baby in order to ensure proper sleep.

  • Essential Tips
  1. Avoid feeding your little one with canned foods. These contain high levels of salt and sugar that are harmful to his or her health.
  2. Do not force your child to eat all the food in his or her plate. It may lead to disturbances in appetite and result them to become pickier as they get older. 
  3. Help your baby give up the bottle by the time he or she turns 1 year old.

Your baby’s food choices not only affect the rate of his or her development, but also impact his or her sleeping habits. That is why it’s important to provide your little one with the appropriate food choices to ensure both proper growth and sleep.

Have you already fed your baby with these food choices, but he or she is still not sleeping peacefully at night? You may want to consult Nurture Parenting, the baby sleep experts in Sydney, Australia. For over 16 years, we have helped many families solve their problems through our Nurture Sleep Program. Through 7 easy lessons, we can take your baby from sleepless to slumber. Contact us today to get started!

Found this infographic helpful? Check our blog for more informative articles about baby sleep.

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