Baby’s Nutritional Needs – 6 to 8 Months
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to start your journey into food. After age six months, neither breast milk nor formula have sufficient iron for baby’s nutritional needs. The extra calories and density of solid food may help your child to stay full longer and sleep in longer chunks. During this age, food will be just a supplement. The majority of children’s calories will be coming from breast milk or formula. This is not a time to reduce milk intake. Just add food to meet your baby’s growing demands for energy.
We recommend babies eat what the adults who care for them eat with minimal adaptations for safety and desirability. Read more on our what to feed baby post.
From six to eight months we recommend aiming for your child to have solid food anywhere from two to three times a day.4 Your baby is likely drinking milk four times as much as they are eating food and may be getting even more than 80% of their calories from milk. Because milk is the primary source of nutrition, we recommend offering milk first when baby is hungry.
Young babies can eat sitting up in your arms, in a chair at a low table, or in a high chair. Each feeding position has its own benefits and drawbacks so choose what works for you.
Just like all new things, go slow. If you’re offering a piece of food, place it in front of baby in grasping distance and allow baby to regulate if and how much they put in their mouth. If you’re offering pureed food put a small amount of food on a spoon, perhaps about a half a teaspoon and show the spoon to your baby. A baby who wants to eat will reach for the spoon, open their mouth, smack their lips or move towards. Place the spoon in their mouth only if you see these cues.
Babies always choose if they eat and how much.
We see two common mistakes at this age. One mistake is parents not realizing that table food is impacting sleep quality. It is also common for parents at this age to mistakenly think that they should reduce milk due to increased food consumption. Actually the increased food consumption is just going to support calorie increases.
“Complementary feeding should be timely, meaning that all infants should start receiving foods in addition to breast milk from 6 months onwards. It should be adequate, meaning that the complementary foods should be given in amounts, frequency, consistency and using a variety of foods to cover the nutritional needs of the growing child while maintaining breastfeeding.”4
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This framework is based on our experience and research. We promote practicing cued care and do not advocate for any specific feeding regime or counting children’s calories. The age ranges and the idea of percentages are to help families see there is normal variability across children and families. Look at the graphic as a framework knowing that each child and family is different.
“WHO | Complementary feeding – World Health Organization.” https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/complementary_feeding/en/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2019.
Reidy, K.C., Deming, D.M., Briefel, R.R. et al. BMC Nutr (2017) 3: 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40795-016-0124-0