Nutrition for Infant 6-9 Months

If you are a first time mom (FTM), surviving the first 6 months after your baby is born is definitely worth celebrating. If you are an experienced mom, then kudos to you for your bravery to take on the second or third kids challenge.

Being a mother is a 24/7 job and  not counting the sleep deprivation, trying to establish breast milk supply, constant worrying and the emotional roller coaster post-partum and the list goes on. None the less, you have made it past the most difficult months but there’s still a lot more ahead we have to know about your baby’s nutritional well being when they are ready to embark on the solid foods journey.

Now that you’ve mastered their schedule down to a tee, let’s talk food 🙂

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6 -7 Months

Starting solids is a big step for your baby. But where do you start ? Answer is start simple, one food at a time and there’s no right or wrong on whether you start rice cereal, fruits, vegetables or meat first. There’s no research to support whether the starting order of vegetables first will make your infant to be more incline to eating vegetables later. Nope, no such things. Breast milk and infant formula are sweet to begin with, so most babies will have a tendency to like fruits much better than others.

Offer a wide variety of foods (cereal, fruits (no juice at this time), vegetables, meats), but only single food at a time. Start with one food, offer for 2-3 days and then introduce the next to rule out any potential allergies. But do remember, do not add salt at this time as baby’s kidney are still developing. This will go on for about two months time to let them try as much food as possible. By the end of 7 months, the list of food they can consume will grow to about 30-35 foods.

You can also lightly seasoned the foods with spices, herbs as well at about 7 months. Introducing purees doesn’t equate to eating bland foods for your children. Expose them with different flavors which in turn will help them be more of a adventurous eater later on. They don’t have to like it, by just exposing them with variety of flavors profile will do.

How much to offer ? About 1/2-1 Tablespoon is a good start at each meal. Let your baby be the guide on how much they wanted to eat. Baby will turn their head or spitting out food when they are done with eating.

Key Point:  At 6-7 months of age, solids foods are consider a “complimentary” foods. As in it is just supposed to be letting the infant to experience the different taste of food and continue to work on their oral motor development. Food at this point are not suppose to replace their major source of nutrition (breast milk or infant formula. 90% of their caloric intake should still be breast milk or infant formula at this time (approximately 26-32 ounces daily).

8-9 Months

After your baby has time to master the oral motor skills for 1-2 months. Now is time to introduce some chunky purees now. If you are interested and aren’t afraid of baby led weaning (BLW) techniques, you can also try giving your baby well cooked vegetables, soft ripen fruits (cut in stripe or small cubes), soft/ground meats (fish/meat balls) with careful supervision at dining table. At this time, most baby has the capability to chew with or without teeth and swallow without much difficulty.

You can start introduce cheese, yogurt (not cow’s milk or goat’s milk yet), egg yolk and egg whites if you like. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Allergy organization have released reports that early introduction of high allergenic food such as egg whites, wheat, nuts can reduces even high risk infants of developing egg/nuts allergies later on.

How much to feed ? Making sure to offer about 1-2 Tablespoons of each food groups (Grains/bread, fruit, vegetables, meat/meat substitute) at meal time if possible. They can have more if desire. Can start offering snacks in between feeding such as cheese, yogurt, teething biscuit, cut up fruits.

Don’t let anyone (family, friends or co-workers) to put you down whichever methods you choose and how you feed your children.  As long as your baby is growing well and eating nutritious meals within the recommended guidelines, do what works for your family! One size doesn’t fit all.

However, do remember that at this time. Baby still need their main source of nutrition from breast milk and infant formula. About 70-80% of caloric intake from breast milk/infant formula (~24 ounces per day) and the rest from solids. Continue with no to minimal salt with cooking for the foods that will be served to your baby at this time frame.

Once they started to eat more solids, their poop will change to more of a darker solids form and sometimes even becoming less frequent with their bowel movement. Offer 1/2-1 ounce of water during meal time and also feed your baby fruits that helps to relieve constipation such as prunes/pears/peaches/plums. If your baby hasn’t poop in 3 days, you can offer 1 oz prune juice / apple juice mix with 1 oz of water and massage their belly to help stimulate bowel movement. Always call the pediatrician for advice when you are worried.

Nutrition for Newborn 0-6 Months

I often get inquiry from new mothers about how much to feed their babies.

So, I’ve decided to compile a simple guidance for all you first time mother about what the baby really needs in a series of article dedicated to infant nutrition.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: If you have a healthy term baby, breast milk or formula is all your baby need for the first 6 months of life. No additional water or other food is necessary at this period.

First Month of Life
Baby’s stomach is pretty tiny for the first few weeks of life, they only need a few drops of milk at each feeding during the first few day and then slowly increase about one ounce per week to about 3-5 ounces at about one month of life. If you are breastfeeding, you probably will be feeding the baby on demand (usually 10-12 feedings during this first month).

Don’t worry if your milk supply hasn’t come in yet, just continue to practice good feeding techniques to help stimulates supply. Many elders may get worried and urge you to supplement early but always check in with lactation consultant and a maternal health dietitian as to what to do. Remember, each baby is different as well, if you have a premature baby, their stomach capacity is even smaller and vice versa if you have a large baby, then they probably will need more.

This photo below illustrated the baby’s stomach size and the approximate milk content you should be feeding the baby if you are using a bottle.  If you are breastfeeding, the baby usually will release their latch when they are satisfied and full.

The perfect latch

If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby pediatrician will recommend a Vitamin D supplementation about 1 ml drop per day (400 IU) given orally to your baby as our human milk is lacking in Vitamin D to help support bone development. Increasing mother’s Vitamin D intake may increase the Vitamin D in the milk content but mother’s daily intake has to be consistent at about 4,000-5,000 IU daily.  Breastfeeding women’s who lives in Africa or in tropical countries usually able to obtain adequate sunlight daily (full body 15-20 minutes sun exposure), may not require to supplement their infant with Vitamin D.

One Month to 3 Months of Age
During this 2-3 months time frame, your baby needs for milk remains the same. Most baby is now able to tolerate between 3-5 ounces of milk at each feeding and usually eat at a 3 hours interval (average about 8 feedings/day). Don’t be surprise if you are still feeding your baby about 10-12 feeds if you are breastfeeding, again, it is on demand and we can’t really measure how much milk baby is taking in.

If your breast is full and firm at the beginning of the feed and then becoming soft and empty at the end of the feed, this is a good sign that baby is effectively removing milk from your breast. Always feed on one breast until it is empty and then offer the other side when the baby still wants more.

Four Months to 6 Months of Age
Your baby now can tolerate between 6-8 ounces of milk at each feeding with a total of 4-6 feedings per day (about 4-5 hours between feed). Yay ! That means, you can get some longer naps in between feeding together with your munchkin. It is also normal to feed baby 4-6 oz at each feeding but more frequently at 3-4 hours interval each. There really is no golden rule here as long as your baby is getting a minimal of 32-36 ounces of breast milk or formula in one day.

Your baby also should doubled their birth weight by 4-5 months old. Don’t try to introduce solids food to baby too early.  Each baby development milestone is different and it is solely depending on how ready they are. How do we know when he/she is ready ? Here’s a few checklist to determine:

  • Can he/she sit up and hold his neck without support ?
  • Does he/she open their mouth when seeing a spoon approaching their way?
  • Can he/she move the solids food from tongue to throat? (If you try to feed the baby and the cereal tends to drip down their chin as baby pushes the content out instead of swallowing, that means they are not ready)

If you answer yes to all of the above, congratulations !! Your baby maybe ready to start complimentary solids food.  Just as I said “complimentary” foods, this should not replace the breast milk and formula the baby still needs at this time. Most common first food to start at around 6 months is rice/oatmeal/barley cereal as they are enriched with iron as baby’s iron store is beginning to diminished at about 6 months of age. When starting solid foods, make sure you only introduce one new food at a time so that you can trace back if any intolerance or allergies were to happen.  A few teaspoon is always a good start then slowly increase to 1 tablespoon a few days later.

This How_To_Feed_Baby-English guidelines obtained from Oregon Dairy Council is a good resource that I often give to new parent at the nutrition clinic to re-assure them how much is enough to feed the baby.