What should 6-month-olds eat?
This is a pivotal stage in your baby’s development. Your bundle of joy is willing to try all kinds of things right now, so offer them a wide range of flavors and textures. Taste-wise, it’s usually best to work your way from bland to sweeter or saltier.
Just remember to be wary of possible allergies. New items should be introduced individually, and at least a week apart, so you can clearly identify what they can or can’t handle. Also, steer clear of unhealthy foods with little or no nutritional value.
A 6-month-old baby’s diet will center on the following:
- Breast milk and/or formula:
It remains their primary source of nutrition and sustenance. Even after adding solid foods to your child’s menu, you should still provide them with plenty of breast milk or formula at each feeding. (It’s important to note, however, that research has shown breast milk may help prevent childhood obesity. Formula consumption affects the makeup of microbes in your baby’s growing gut. These microbes heavily influence the way their body digests food and draws energy from it.)
- Solid foods:
Are you convinced that they’re ready to make the transition to solids? Signs of readiness include better hand-to-mouth coordination, decreased tongue protrusion reflex, sitting up unassisted, and opening their mouth for the spoon. Simply keep in mind that this process requires plenty of patience, preparation, and timing.
Tips for introducing solid foods
This is a major stepping stone for your 6-month-old as it lays the foundation for lifelong eating habits. It also helps determine how willing they’ll be to explore new flavors and textures down the road. Below is a list of healthy options for baby’s first solids.
- Oatmeal or brown rice cereal
- Pureed meats like chicken, pork, or beef
- Pureed or strained fruits like bananas, pears, peaches, or avocados
- Pureed or strained vegetables like carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes
Lastly, stay away from potential choking hazards such as small fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, candy, gum, and whole grapes.
It may take a while for your child to become accustomed to eating solid foods. Before tackling this challenge, you should take the following factors into account.
Since every 6-month-old is unique, there is no perfect time for switching to solids. While you’re still nursing, consider introducing them whenever your milk supply is low.
Your little one’s mood can speak volumes. If they wake up cheerful and energetic, they might be more open to trying something new. However, if they appear cranky and sleepy, then breast milk or formula is your safest bet.
Getting even one tiny spoonful into their mouth is often a huge task. That’s why it’s critical to give yourself and your 6-month-old plenty of time for feedings. Meals will go more smoothly when time and patience aren’t in short supply.
A silicone or plastic spoon is the gentlest choice for your child’s tender gums. Keep three spoons handy: one for you, one for them, and a spare to replace the one that’ll inevitably wind up on the floor. Now is also a prime opportunity to get them in the habit of wearing a bib at mealtime.
Solid foods can be a bit of a shock when you’re used to milky, liquid textures. Start slowly and put about a quarter teaspoon of food on the tip of your baby’s tongue. If they swallow it, place the next quarter teaspoonful a little farther back on their tongue.
How much should 6-month-olds eat?
You have to walk a very fine line between overfeeding your little one and leaving them hungry for more. The amount they should be consuming varies based on what they’re eating or drinking.
- Breast milk: Generally speaking, you’ll need to nurse your baby five to six times in a 24-hour period; although some children require more. They’ll consume between 24 and 36 ounces per day.
- Formula: On average, your child will have to be bottle-fed four to five times in a 24-hour period. This breaks down to roughly 6 to 8 ounces of formula per serving, for a daily total of 24 to 32 ounces.
- Solid foods: If your 6-month-old is exploring solids now, start with very small quantities. Begin with just an ounce of baby food and gradually increase to 3 ounces. If they enjoy it, offer 1 tablespoon of cereal mixed with breast milk or formula (or fruits and veggies) three times a day. Remember to proceed slowly and pay attention to their cues.
How often should 6-month-olds eat?
A good rule of thumb is to start feeding at the earliest sign of hunger, and stop feeding at the earliest sign of fullness. Feeding schedules, however, are determined by whether your child is breastfed or formula-fed.
- Formula-fed babies: Provide 6 to 8 ounces of formula per serving, six times a day. You may wish to supplement with 1 to 3 ounces of solid food, three times a day.
- Breastfed babies: Nurse your 6-month-old every three to four hours daily. Similarly, you can supplement with 1 to 3 ounces of solid food, three times a day.
This is an especially exciting time for you and your baby. Although you’ll continue offering their most essential nutrition in the form of breast milk and/or formula, you’re also broadening their horizons. Be sure to follow your 6-month-old’s cues and gradually incorporate new flavors and textures into their diet.