How do I choose food for an 8-month-old?
By far, the most important food for an 8-month-old baby is breast milk or formula. Breastfeeding may help your little one maintain a healthy weight in childhood and even adulthood, while formula feeding may cause changes in their gut, which can be associated with weight issues over time.
While this can be a fun age for your child to start experimenting with table foods, more of the food may get on their clothes and the floor than in their mouths. As a result, solid foods don’t provide much nutritional value at this point. However, they do offer a fun way for your child to join in family meals and experiment with different textures and movements.
Before introducing solid foods to your 8-month-old, check for these signs of readiness:
- Decreased tongue protrusion reflex
- Sitting without support
- Opening their mouth when offered food on a spoon
- Hand-to-mouth coordination
Doctors strongly recommend avoiding foods that are choking risks, including small fruits like whole grapes, raw vegetables, nuts, candy, gum, and honey.
If you are wondering, “Well, what can babies eat at eight months?” you may be surprised at how diverse the list is. Options include cooked vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower; fresh fruit such as slices of avocado, banana, pear, melon, and mango; soft, cooked legumes such as soybeans and lentils; meats like chicken and ground turkey; and well-cooked pasta. Round, dry cereal pieces are another safe food option because they are easy to pick up, do not make a mess, and dissolve quickly for easy swallowing. Avoid high-choking-risk foods, hot dogs, and popcorn and always make sure an adult is supervising any self-feeding sessions. While true choking episodes are rare, taking a class to get certified in infant and child CPR can offer some peace of mind.
Whatever food items you offer, it's important to make sure everything has been properly cooked, is big enough for your child to pick up, and is small enough not to present a choking hazard.
You can also use mesh ring-style feeders, which allow you to put foods inside a closed mesh container. They offer your child a way to access new flavors and practice self-feeding with less choking risk.
How much should an 8-month-old eat?
An 8-month-old child should be taking in about 24 to 32 ounces of breast milk or formula throughout the day. If you plan to introduce cow’s milk, wait until your child is at least 12 months old. An infant's GI tract hasn’t developed enough to digest milk proteins from other mammals, predisposing them to allergies and iron deficiency. Even at one year of age, it's important to still watch for signs of an allergy or intolerance, especially to new foods.
As long as your baby is consuming consistent amounts of formula or breast milk and growing well, you can be confident that their nutritional needs are already being met. The caloric requirements for kids seven to nine months of age is approximately 750-850 kcal per day.
How much formula does an 8-month-old need?
Whether you have been formula feeding since your baby’s birth or are ready to stop breastfeeding (e.g., due to medications), developing an 8-month-old feeding schedule can help you pinpoint when your baby is hungry and facilitate family mealtimes.
Formula-fed infants need to drink six to eight ounces approximately four times a day, for a total of 24–32 ounces. Depending on your child's growth and nutritional needs, your pediatrician may recommend more or less formula. As your child starts eating more solid foods or taking sips of water, the amount of formula they need may drop to 16 to 20 ounces a day. If you notice your child is losing weight or not showing interest in solid foods, it's a good idea to talk to their pediatrician.
What’s a typical 8-month-old eating schedule?
In general, an 8-month-old’s feeding schedule starts with formula or breast milk at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a final feeding before bedtime. While babies who are breastfeeding might eat on a similar schedule to those who are formula-fed, breast milk has a different composition than formula, so babies can’t overfeed. If your child nurses more frequently for a time or is going through more bottles of breast milk, it could be for comfort or a growth spurt.
If you're introducing solid foods, you can offer them at regular family mealtimes so your child can participate in the social aspect of meals and practice self-feeding.
If possible, offer food at meals before you give breast milk or formula, as the baby may refuse solid food if their stomach is already full.
Watching your baby grow, reach new milestones, and gain more independence is an exciting process. Finding a good 8-month-old feeding schedule may take a little time, but you’re on your way to introducing your child to different flavors, textures, and routines. Follow these 8-month-old feeding schedule guidelines to give your child a solid foundation of strong nutrition habits.