Feeding Guide: 6-12 Months

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Please note: This information primarily focuses on nutrition for the healthy, full-term infant. Consult with a WIC Health Professional for more detailed and advanced information particularly for preterm, low-birth weight, special needs, or infants with medical conditions.

Breastfed Baby

It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to exclusively breastfeed (no formula) through the first 6 months of life and to continue breastfeeding through 12 months of age while complementary foods are added, as mutually desired by mom and baby.

Breastmilk is still the main source of nutrition. Continue to breastfeed on demand. On average, baby will feed 3-4 times per day. 

Baby will start to breastfeed less as they eat more baby food and table foods. “Table foods” refers to foods the rest of the family eats at meal times. Table foods are the next step after baby has mastered baby foods and is developmentally ready for more chewing, texture, and flavor.

Baby food and table foods are for learning new flavors and textures as well as learning to chew and eat from a spoon, with fingers, and to start self-feeding with utensils. Let them be messy and feed themselves. It is how they learn!

  • WIC does not provide solid foods until 6 months, an age most babies are developmentally ready to try solids.
  • WIC provides baby food until 12 months of age.

Get more great breastfeeding information here!

Formula-fed Baby

Baby will start to consume less formula as they eat more baby food and table foods. It is important to continue providing formula through 12 months of age if not breastfeeding. 

Formula is still the main source of nutrition. Continue to offer formula on demand. On average, baby will drink 24-32 ounces total per day (about 3-4 8oz bottles per day)

Baby food and table foods are more for learning new flavors and textures as well as learning to eat from a spoon, with fingers, and to start self-feeding with utensils.

  • Table foods are referring to foods the rest of the family eats at meal times. Table foods are the next step after baby has mastered baby foods and is developmentally ready for more chewing, texture, and flavor.
  • Baby food is offered on your WIC package until 12 months of age.

Cow’s Milk & Other Liquids

Never give cow’s milk before 12 months. Why?

  • Cow’s milk has too much protein, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, and potassium
  • Cow’s milk lacks key nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, linoleic acid, iron, and copper
  • Too much protein and minerals are hard on your baby’s kidneys, can cause dehydration, and it is hard for baby to digest.
  • Cow’s milk can cause bleeding from the intestinal tract.
  • Bleeding caused by cow’s milk increases your baby’s chance of becoming anemic (or low in iron).

At 12 months, whole cow’s milk can be offered until 24 months. See Feeding Guide for 1-2 year old for more information.

Water

  • Water can be introduced from a cup, not a bottle at about 6 months. 
  • Offer a small amount of drinking water once solid foods are introduced to help babies get familiar with the taste. Just a few sips at meal times is all it takes.
  • Drinking water at this age is more to practice using a cup than for nutritional needs. Let baby practice when he shows signs of readiness.

Other liquids

  • Never give honey, syrup, kool-aid, pop, juice, or any sweetened drink to an infant.
  • Juice is not recommended for babies less than 12 months of age.

No Honey Before 12 Months

Honey, including products that have honey cooked or baked in it, should not be fed to infants younger than 12 months due to risk of infant botulism.

  • Foods cooked or baked with honey not heated to a certain temperature may still contain viable spores. When an infant eats foods with these invisible spores, the spores can produce a toxin that may cause infant botulism.
  • Botulism can result in death.
  • A child over 12 months can destroy the small amount of spores in honey, but an infant cannot.

Feeding Abilities

At 7-8 months, baby will:

  • Eat with their fingers
  • Reach for spoon to start spoon feeding themselves, may need help
  • Can drink from a cup that is held or may begin to hold a cup
  • Will want to eat table foods and the same foods you are eating

At 9-12 months, baby will:

  • Fitting into the family schedule for meals and snacks
  • Eating table foods
  • Possibly eating some baby foods (this is more common from 6-9 months)

Baby Food

Introduce baby foods (also referred to as solid food) around 6 months of age when showing signs of readiness.

Signs of Readiness

  • Holds neck steady
  • Sits without support
  • Opens mouth when food is offered
  • Draws in lower lip when spoon is removed from mouth
  • Keeps food in mouth and swallows it
  • Reaches for food showing interest

Starting solids too soon can…

  • Cause choking
  • Be hard for baby to digest
  • Prevent baby from getting enough breastmilk or formula for best growth

When ready to feed solids:

  • Have baby sitting up.
  • Make sure the food is not too hot.
  • Feed all food from a small spoon.
  • Add only one new food at a time every 3 to 5 days. Watch for allergic reactions.
    • Signs of allergic reaction include: hives or welts, flushed skin or rash, face, tongue, or lip swelling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. 
  • Homemade or purchased baby foods can be used. See Making Your Own Baby Food.
  • When opening jar food, listen for the pop. This tells you it is safe to eat. Do not feed if you don’t hear the lid pop!
  • Do not feed straight from the jar.  Always put into another dish and feed with a spoon. Throw away any left-over food in the dish—do not put it back in the jar.  Spit mixed with the food will make the food spoil.
  • Store left-over clean jar food in the refrigerator. Use within 2 days.
  • Baby does not need salt, grease, fat, or sugar added to any of his foods. Baby’s tastes are not the same as yours. (Taste some formula or breast milk and you’ll get the idea.) 
  • Do not provide honey until 12 months of age due to risk of infant botulism.

Food Groups

Grains

  • Grain products make good finger foods:  whole grain crackers, dry WIC cereal, bread, noodles, mashed rice, soft tortilla pieces, toast, etc.
  • When baby foods are mastered, try cooked plain rice and noodles mashed or chopped.
  • Look for whole grain options. Explore the Whole Grains Food Group to learn more about whole grains.
  • Infant cereal can be fed until baby reaches one year of age. Begin with single-grain infant cereal. On average infant eat 4-6 Tbsp per day.
    • No need to add sugar, syrup or any other sweeteners to cereals.
    • If baby refuses infant cereal, try making teething biscuits or mixing it into other foods. See the Recipe section for a homemade teething biscuit recipe.

Infant Cereal

Remember, this is different than breakfast cereal that children and adults consume. This is cereal specifically made for infants and can be found in the baby section near the baby food.

  • Start with single grain cereals. Make the cereal thin, mix 1 teaspoon of dry cereal with 2-3 tablespoons of breastmilk or iron fortified formula.
  • All babies will develop their own feeding pattern, but on average babies will eat 4-8 Tbsp mixed with breastmilk or iron-fortified formula.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Start with pureed fruits and vegetables. Remember to introduce one new food at a time every 3-5 days. Don’t use fruit desserts or fruit mixes with added sugar.
  • All babies will develop their own feeding pattern, but on average babies will eat 2-4 Tbsp twice daily.
  • Plain fruits and vegetables are the best. No need to add salt, sugar, syrups, oil, butter or other fats.
  • Never add honey to baby’s foods, it can cause harmful spores which can make baby sick.
  • Once baby foods are mastered, offer cooked fruits and vegetables mashed with a fork.
  • Be sure to remove pits and seeds and cut into small pieces.
  • A good range is about ¼-1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables a day.

Protein

  • Offer strained, pureed, or finely chopped lean meat, poultry, and fish with all bones removed. 
  • Use plain, strained (pureed) meats when starting. If meat is too thick, mix this with breastmilk or formula. Avoid meat and vegetable combinations until each food in the mixture has been tried individually with no allergic reaction.
  • All babies will develop their own feeding pattern, but on average babies will eat 1-2 Tbsp daily.
  • Try cooked eggs or mashed beans and peas.
  • Limit use of fried meats, gravies, and sauces.
  • Avoid use of too many processed meats such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, bacon and sausage. They are very high in fat and salt content and can cause choking.
  • Hot dogs and luncheon meats should be heated to reduce the risk of listeriosis.

Dairy

  • No cow’s milk before 12 months of age. See section above on Cow’s Milk & Other Liquids.
  • Offer small pieces of cheese, cottage cheese and plain yogurt when eating other table foods.
Suggested Feeding Guide: 0 – 12 months
Age Food Portion Size Feedings per Day Feeding Tips
0-6 months Breast Milk 8-12 feedings on demand. Gradual decline in feedings at 4-6 months. Feed on demand. Refrain from watching the clock.
  • Liquids are best because baby eats by sucking
  • Baby cannot swallow solid food
  • Watch for weight gain in the first weeks/months
  • Baby should have 6-8 wet diapers per day, after first week of life
  • Teething is starting at 4-6 months
  • Wait to start solids until close to 6 months old
Iron-Fortified Formula 2-3 oz
(increasing to consume around 32 oz at 6 months)
6-8 feedings
6-8 months Breast Milk Gradual decline in feedings. Continue feeding on demand. Feed on demand. Refrain from watching the clock.
  • Start baby food (purchased or homemade) about 6 months when showing signs of readiness
  • Use plain, strained meats one at a time
  • Offer one fruit or vegetable at a time, adding a new one every 3-5 days
  • Feed from spoon, start finger foods about 7 months
  • Start offering small amounts of water from an open cup after 6 months
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 4-8 oz water for infants 6-12 months of age.
Iron-Fortified Formula 6-8 oz
(consuming 24-32 oz)
3-5 feedings
Grains
Infant cereal, bread, crackers
1-2 Tbsp 1-2 times per day
Vegetables
AND
Fruit

Plain, strained, pureed, mashed

1-2 Tbsp of vegetables

1-2 Tbsp of fruit

1-2 times per day for vegetables

1-2 times per day for fruit

Protein
Eggs, meat, poultry, fish, cheese/yogurt legumes; Plain, mashed, pureed
1-2 Tbsp 1-2 times per day
8-12 months Breast Milk Gradual decline in feedings. Continue feeding on demand. Feed on demand. Refrain from watching the clock.
  • Baby can chew, try new flavors and textures
  • Offer plain fruits and vegetables, no need to add sauces, fat, salt or sugar
  • Avoid fruit desserts and combo meat and vegetable dinners
  • Work in small/bite sized, well cooked/soft table foods around 9 months
  • Avoid foods that can cause choking such as hot dogs, grapes, raw fruits like apples etc.
  • Continue offering open cup, by 10 months offer cup more, bottle less with breast milk and formula
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 4-8 oz water for infants 6-12 months of age.
  • Prepare to wean from the bottle at 12 months, whether you breastfeed or formula-feed.
  • Continue breastfeeding as long as desired by mom and baby!
  • If pumping or have frozen breast milk, offer by cup after 12 months
Iron-Fortified Formula 6-8 oz 3-4 feedings (6-8 oz each consuming 24 ounces)
Grains
(Infant cereal, bread, crackers)
2-4 Tbsp 1-2 times per day
Vegetables
AND
Fruit

(ground, finely chopped, diced)

2-3 Tbsp of vegetables

2-3 Tbsp of fruit

2-3 times per day for vegetables

2-3 times per day for fruit

Protein
(meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, legumes; ground, finely chopped, diced)
1-2 Tbsp 1-2 times per day

*Source: WIC Works Infant Nutrition and Feeding Manual.

Feeding Tips for the 6-12 month old

  • At any time between 6-12 months, daily amounts will vary. Never force your baby to eat all his food or finish a bottle. Baby will know when he is full and done eating! Look for signs of fullness. 
  • Baby’s tummy is small. It is important to feed healthy foods first. 
  • Less healthy food choices like cookies, chips, and candy can be a choking hazard but also do not give baby what is needed for proper growth and development.
  • Offer fruit for dessert. Babies do not need desserts.
  • Buy plain foods. Babies do not need added salt and sugar.
  • Table foods should be soft and easy to chew. See the Choking section.
  • A relaxed, pleasant atmosphere is an important part of feeding children of all ages. Be patient and give them time to practice. It will be messy but have fun with it!
  • Let your baby sit at the table with the family!
  • Always stay with baby when he is eating.
  • Offer more breast milk, formula, or water in the cup as baby gets closer to age 1. This will help with weaning from the bottle soon after their first birthday. See section on Weaning: Breastfed Baby and Weaning: Formula-Fed Baby.
  • Wipe baby’s gums and teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals. This will keep baby’s gums healthy.
  • Wash your hands and baby’s hands with soap before feeding. Wash the high chair with warm soapy water after baby eats.
  • See section on Food Safety to learn about how to safely handle and prepare food for you and your family.
  • See section on Food Allergies to learn about the newest recommendations on how to best prevent food allergies from forming in children.

Sources: Healthy Eating Research, USDA Infant Nutrition & Feeding – A Guide for Use in WIC

This post was last updated on April 15th, 2021 at 9:08 AM

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