Obviously you want your baby to eat nutritious food, but how much food should you prepare for your baby? And, how frequently should they eat? When planning an eating routine for your baby, keep these six tips in mind…..
- Try to create an eating routine: Babies thrive on routine. Try to plan what times of day your baby will eat. Encourage your baby to sit in their high chair and create a quiet, relaxed environment for your baby to focus on their meal instead of eating on the run. This will help to create good habits for the future and help your baby to eat nutritious foods instead of filling up on snacks.
- Your baby’s routine will continue to change as they grow: As babies grow, their stomach size and capacity increases. This means that they’ll be able to eat larger quantities at each meal, and won’t need to eat as many meals throughout the day. So, whilst your baby may have started with a breastmilk or formula feed every three hours and be consuming 8-10 feeds throughout the day, by the time we reach adulthood, many adults only require three meals per day.
- Every baby is different: The other babies in your playgroup may be eating six times each day, but if eight times per day, or five times per day works better for your family’s routine, that’s ok! Find a routine that works for your baby and your family.
- You choose the foods and meal times, your baby chooses the amount: It is the parents or carers responsibility to determine which foods are served, and your baby’s responsibility to determine how much of each food is consumed. We all know someone who was forced to eat everything on their plate – this can often set up lifelong overeating habits. Provide your baby with a range of nutritious choices and allow your baby to determine their portion size.
- Your baby’s appetite will fluctuate from meal to meal: Just like if we have a large meal (think Christmas lunch), we don’t feel like eating much at the next meal, our baby’s appetites, and consequently portion sizes, will fluctuate from meal to meal too. Your baby’s appetite is also impacted by growth spurts and activity levels, so expect their portion sizes to fluctuate. At times they may even refuse a few meals, and as long as their growth is tracking well, that’s ok.
- After the age of 9 months, offer food first: Prior to nine months of age, it is recommended that you give your baby their milk first, then offer them some food. In terms of meal planning, you simply provide your baby with some nutritious foods to taste after each feed. Once they reach 9 months, offer them their food first, then top up with a milk feed. During the first year of life when your baby’s portion sizes are small, breastmilk or formula will be your baby’s primary source of nutrition. As their stomach capacity grows and their milk intake subsides, their portion sizes will slowly increase.
As a general guide, aim for the following portion sizes:
|Core Food Group||Number of Serves Per Day||Example Portion Sizes|
|Grains||Approximately 4||– ½ -1 slice bread
– ½ cup cooked porridge
– 11/2 wheat biscuits
– 2-5 tbsp cooked pasta
|Vegetables||Approximately 5||– 2 tbsp cooked peas
– ½ cooked carrot
– 3 florets broccoli
– ¼ cup mashed sweet potato
|Fruit||Approximately 2||– 18 raspberries
– 2 tbsp canned fruit
– 2 strawberries
– 8 cubes melon
|Meat and alternatives||Approximately 2||– 1 egg
– 1 lamb chop
– 85g tofu
– 5 cubes chicken
|Dairy||1-3 serves depending on your baby’s age||– 20g hard cheese
– ½ cup milk
– 100g yoghurt
If you’re still confused about your baby’s eating routine, book a consultation with a paediatric dietitian who can help you design a personalised plan for your baby.