How Much Food Should I Give My Baby?
It's a question we get a lot: "how much should I feed my baby?".
Most parents know, thanks to the support of health visitors, GPs and pediatricians, that babies should start eating solids around 6 months. The information and resources around how much to feed the baby, however, are less clear. It's even harder to know if you're doing it 'right' when half the meal ends up on their face or floor (or walls)!
Right, so tell me - how much?
The World Health Organisation recommends anywhere from a teaspoon to four tablespoons of solids 2-3 times per day, in addition to normal milk feeds, from the age of 6 months. As your baby gradually eats more solids, their milk consumption will naturally decrease, until they are on primarily solid food.
Does that answer your question? Nope, didn't think so.
The reality is that there is no 'should' when it comes to weaning - there is no magical 'right' amount - only the amount that is right for your baby.
OK, but what does that mean?
The goal of weaning and introducing solids is not only nutritional, but also to help foster your child's innate interest in and self-regulation around food. When you sit down with your baby to give them a meal or first taste, pay attention to signs of hunger and fullness and help them to honour those feelings:
Signs of Hunger:
- Leaning in to spoon
- Trying to grab food with their hands
- Opening their mouth for food as it comes near
- Actively looking at and expressing interest in food when it is nearby
These are all signals that your baby is keen to keep eating - continue offering food (even if it seems like you've given more than 4 tablespoons!) as long as they are interested.
At the first sign of fullness, stop feeding them. Simple as that!
Signs of Fullness:
- Close mouth to approaching food
- Turn head away from spoon or food
- Spit out what's in their mouth
To you, it may seem like they haven't eaten 'enough.' In fact, some babies may exhibit these fullness signs before you've even begun! But it's important never to force feed and to call mealtime to an end as soon as these signs are demonstrated.
Introducing solids should take place in a positive and encouraging atmosphere - even the smallest taste is a huge step in your baby's discovery journey. Stay patient and positive, and respond to their cues!