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Age by Age Feeding Guide

 

This guide provides a general overview of your child’s requirements at every stage of development from birth to 36 months plus. Please note that this is only a rough guideline – keep in mind that babies, toddlers and children are all different so may eat more or less than below. Listen to your child and let them guide their interest or rejection of food.

 

iStock_feeding_guide.jpgIn this article:

 
  • Birth – 4 months
  • 4 – 6 months
  • 6 – 12 months
  • 12 – 18 months
  • 18 – 24 months
  • 24 – 36 months
  • 36 months plus
  
Birth – 4 months 

 

What to feed
 
Exclusively breastmilk or formula

Daily Needs

 

The number of feeds and the amount varies between infants and overtime.

 

Rough estimate –

Age - 1 month

Feeds daily - 6 to 8

Total/day– 350–600mls

 

Age - 2 and 3 months

Feeds daily - 5

Total/day 750 – 900mls

 

Age - 4 months

Feeds daily - 4 to 5

Total/day750–1000mls

 

Points

 

· The digestive tract is too immature for any solid food.

· To gauge whether intake is adequate - aim for 6 or more very wet nappies per day 

 
 
4 – 6 months
 
What to feed
 
· Breastmilk or formula PLUS
 
- iron-fortified cereal
- single foods such as mashed banana or avocado,
- or cooked and pureed fruit and vegetables (pear, pumpkin or carrot).
- Age appropriate commercially prepared
 
Breastmilk or formula remains the main source of nutrition
Daily Needs
 
Rough estimated of breast milk or formula
 
Feeds daily - 4 to 5
Daily total 750–1000mls
 
Solids
· Begin with very small quantities of very runny (almost liquid) – 1- 2 teaspoons/once a day.
· Gradually thicken consistency and increase quantity to 2 or 4 tablespoons @ each sitting.
· Begin by offering solids at only one meal a day, after a breast or formula milk feed.
· Gradually increase the amount of food to 2-4 tablespoons per meal, and then increase the number of meals to three a day
Always let your baby’s appetite be the guide.

Points

 

· Look for signs of readiness for solid food
· Refer to ‘Introducing Solid Food’ articles
· Try one food at a time and a new food every few days
· If your baby rejects a food – try again a few days later
· Once your baby is able to support themselves, place them in a high chair.
· Delay giving the following foods to your baby:
- Cows milk (until 12 months)
- Honey (until 12 months)
- Eggs (9 months yolk; 12 months white)
- Nuts (whole nuts avoided until after 5 years)
 
 
6 – 9 months
 
What to feed
 
· Breastmilk or formula PLUS
- iron-fortified cereal
- single raw foods such as mashed banana or avocado,
- cooked and pureed fruit and vegetables 
- meat, chicken and boned fish can be given. For vegetarian children, offer cooked dried beans, peas, or lentils instead
- Age appropriate commercially prepared foods
- when small lumps can be managed, provide finger foods such as pieces of steamed/baked vegetables, soft fruit, crackers, toast or bread fingers, and pieces of cooked meat
-  add variety into the diet by mixing foods together
Daily Needs
 
Breast milk or formula
 
Feeds daily - 3 to 4
Total/day 600 – 800mls
 
Solids -
· 3 to 9 tablespoons cereal, in 2 to 3 feedings
 
· 1 teaspoon fruit, gradually increased to ¼ to ½ cup in 2 to 3 feedings
 
· 1 teaspoon vegetables, gradually increased to ¼ to ½ cup in 2 to 3 feedings
Points
 
 
· Look for signs of readiness for solid food
· Refer to ‘Introducing Solid Food’ articles
· Breastmilk or formula remains the main source of nutrition
· Try one food at a time and a new food every few days
· If your baby rejects a food – try again a few days later
· Once your baby is able to support themselves, place them in a high chair.
· Change the texture of foods offered to encourage chewing. Offer a thicker consistency, progressing to soft but more lumpy or mashed foods.
· Breast fed babies do not require additional water however cool boiled water maybe needed as weaning onto more solids occurs.
 
 
9 – 12 months
 
What to feed
 
·Breastmilk or formula PLUS
All of the above foods plus;
-  iron-fortified cereal
-  raw, cooked and pureed fruit and vegetables 
-  meat, chicken and boned fish can be given. For vegetarian children, offer cooked dried beans, peas, or lentils instead
- age appropriate commercially prepared foods
- small amounts of soft pasteurised cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese (but no cows' milk until age 1)
- finger foods such as pieces of steamed/baked vegetables, soft fruit, cooked pasta, crackers, toast or bread fingers, and pieces of cooked meat
- Egg yolk can be introduced at 9 months (if no history of allergies)
- continue to add variety into the diet by mixing foods together
 
breastmilk or formula remains the main source of nutrition
Daily Needs
 
Breast milk or formula
 
Feeds daily - 3 to 4
Total/day 600 – 800mls
 
Solids -

• ¼ to ½ cup iron-fortified cereal

• ¼ to ½ cup fruit

• ¼ to ½ cup vegetables

• 1/8 to ¼ cup protein foods

•  ¼ to 1/3 cup dairy
 
3 solid meals a day – morning, lunchtime and late afternoon/evening.
 
Points
 
 
· Look for signs of readiness for solid food
· Refer to ‘Introducing Solid Food’ articles
· Try one food at a time and a new food every few days
· If your baby rejects a food – try again a few days later
· Continue to be adventurous with different foods and textures. Change the texture of foods offered to encourage chewing. Offer a thicker consistency, progressing to soft but more lumpy or mashed foods.
· Breast fed babies do not require additional water however cool boiled water maybe needed as weaning onto more solids occurs.
· Water and formula/breastmilk is all your child needs at this age.
· By 8-9 months baby should be able to try finger foods, self feeding and using a spoon
Readiness for finger foods
- Sitting independently
- Head control
- Picks up objects with thumb and forefinger
- Can transfer items from one hand to the other
- Puts everything in his mouth
- Moves jaw in a chewing motion
 
 
12 – 18 months
 
What to feed
 
· Breast milk, formula or  whole cows milk
· Solids now becomes the main source of nutrients
· As outlined above but broaden the range of  – iron fortified cereals/grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy and protein
· Combinations of food
· Same food as the rest of the family – mashed or chopped into bite sized pieces
· Honey and eggs (both yolk and whites).
Daily Needs
 
Breast milk, formula or cows milk (from 12 months) - 500 – 600 mls per day is all toddlers need
 
Solids -
 
The following food groups
 
  • Grains, bread, cereals, rice, and pasta – 4 to 6 servings cereals and other grains
1 serving –
¼ to 1/3 cup cereal,¼ cup pasta or rice, ¼ to ½ slice bread or bagel)
 
  • Fruit and vegetables – 2 to 4 servings
1 serving –
¼ to ½ cup fruit and ¼ to ½ cup vegetables

  • Meat, fish, poultry, eggs or protein alternatives - 2 servings
1 serving –
2 tablespoons ground or two 2.5cm cubes meat, poultry, or fish; 1 egg; ¼ cup tofu or cooked beans; 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
 
  • Dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods  - 2 to 3 servings
1 serving –
½ - 1cup milk, 1 -2 slice cheese, 1/3 to ½ cup yogurt or cottage cheese)
 
 
Points
 
· Self feeding – let your child use a spoon themselves (expect a little mess)
· Toddlers love to help in the garden or kitchen which is great way for them to learn about food.
· Choking is still a hazard – always supervise your toddler when eating and encourage them to be seated whilst eating. Avoid whole nuts until 5 years old. 
 
As a guide, provide your toddler:
· a variety and range of different of food
· enough food for growth
· plenty of healthy snacks
· small meals often
· plenty to drink (water or milk)
· treat foods now and then
· opportunity to be physically active
 
· Childrens’ appetites vary constantly because of growth spurts and variations in activity. Forcing your child to eat is stressful for everyone and can contribute to the development of unhealthy attitudes towards food.
 
 
 
18 – 24 months
 
What to feed
 
· Breast milk, formula or whole cows milk
· Solids are now the main source of nutrients
· As outlined above but continue to broaden the range of – iron fortified cereals/grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy and protein
· Combinations of food
· Same food as the rest of the family – mashed or chopped into bite sized pieces
· Honey and eggs (both yolk and whites).

Daily Needs 

 
 
Breast milk, formula or cows milk (from 12 months) - 500 – 600 mls per day is all toddlers need
 
Solids
As a general guide, a portion size is what can fit in the palm of a child’s hand or approximately a quarter to half an adult portion size.
 
A healthy balanced diet includes the following food groups:
 
  • meat, fish, poultry, eggs or alternatives – 2 portions daily
 
Some ideas –
1 serving = 2 slices of cooked meat (about 100 g), ¾ cup mince or casserole (195 g), 1 egg (50 g), medium fillet of fish (100 g), ¾ cup dried cooked beans (135 g)
 
  • bread, cereals, rice, and pasta (preferably wholegrain) –preschoolers 4 potions daily,
 
Some ideas -
1 serving grains = 1 roll (50 g), 1 medium slice of bread (26 g), ½ cup muesli (55 g), ½ cup cooked cereal (130 g), 1 cup cooked pasta or rice
 
  • fruit and vegetables – 5 plus portions daily
 
Some ideas;
Fruit - 1 serving = 1 apple, pear, banana or orange (130 g), ½ cup fresh fruit salad (120 g), ½ cup stewed fruit (135 g)
Veges - 1 serving = 1 medium potato or similar sized root vegetables (135 g), ½ cup cooked vegetables or salad
 
  • dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods – 2 - 4 portions daily
 
Some ideas -
1 serving diary = 250 ml milk, 1 pottle yoghurt (150 g), 2 slices of cheese (40 g), ¼ cup cottage cheese; ¼ cup pudding).
 
3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between.

Points

 
 
· Self feeding – let your child use a spoon themselves (expect a little mess)
· Plates with suction bases, bibs, placemats & floormats are a must to help minimise mess.
· Empower your toddler to make their own food choices
· Toddlers love to help in the garden or kitchen which is great way for them to learn about food.
· Toddlers and small children vary in the amount they eat –remember that they should eat little and often rather than three larger meals a day. Healthy snacks are important.
· If your child is getting too big for a highchair – a booster seat or the Kaboost may be a good option.
 
As a guide, provide your toddler:
· a variety and range of different of food
· enough food for growth
· plenty of healthy snacks
· small meals often
· plenty to drink (water or milk)
· treat foods now and then
· opportunity to be physically active
 
Food play, games and activities help teach children about healthy food choices.
 
 
24 – 36 months
 
What to feed
 
·   Breast milk, formula, whole cows milk or reduced fat cows milk
· Solids are now the main source of nutrients
· The same food as the rest of the family
· Combinations of food
· Try different textures and presentations of foods – for instance dried fruit, whole fruit and canned fruit.
 
· A balanced diet of the following:
- meat, fish, poultry, eggs or protein alternatives
- bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta (preferably wholegrain) – fruit and vegetables (whole is preferable)
- dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods 
 
Daily Needs
 
Breast milk, formula or cows milk (from 12 months) - 500 – 600 mls per day is all preschoolers need
 
 
Solids
As a general guide, a portion size is what can fit in the palm of a child’s hand or approximately a quarter to half an adult portion size.
 
A healthy balanced diet includes the following food groups:
 
  • meat, fish, poultry, eggs or alternatives – 2 portions daily
 
Some ideas –
1 serving = 2 slices of cooked meat (about 100 g), ¾ cup mince or casserole (195 g), 1 egg (50 g), medium fillet of fish (100 g), ¾ cup dried cooked beans (135 g), 2 drumsticks or 1 chicken leg (110 g)
 
  • bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta (preferably wholegrain) –pre schoolers 4 potions daily 
 
Some ideas -
1 serving grains = 1 roll (50 g), 1 medium slice of bread (26 g), ½ cup muesli (55 g), ½ cup cooked cereal (130 g), 1 cup cooked pasta (150 g), 1 cup cooked rice (150 g)
 
  • fruit and vegetables – 5 plus portions daily (2 – 3 Fruit; 2- 3 Vegetables)
 
Some ideas;
Fruit - 1 serving = 1 apple, pear, banana or orange (130 g), 2 small apricots or plums (100 g), ½ cup fresh fruit salad (120 g), ½ cup stewed fruit (135 g)
Veges - 1 serving = 1 medium potato or similar sized root vegetables (135 g), ½ cup cooked vegetables (50–80 g), ½ cup salad (60 g), 1 tomato (80 g).
 
 
  • dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods – 2 - 4 portions daily.
  
Some ideas -
1 serving diary = 250 ml milk, 1 pottle yoghurt (150 g), 2 slices of cheese (40 g), ¼ cup cottage cheese; ¼ cup pudding).
Reduced fat milk can be offered from this age.
 
3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between.
Points
 
· Preschoolers are eager to express their independence and make their own food options.
· Buffet or tapa style meals are a great way to give your preschooler options.
· Self feeding should be well established.
· Choking is still a hazard – always supervise your toddler when eating and encourage them to be seated whilst eating. Avoid whole nuts until 5 years old. 
 · Preschoolers childrens’ appetite will vary and may eat less than before – this is perfectly normal.
 
As a guide, provide your preschooler:
· many different foods
· enough food for growth
· plenty of healthy snacks
· small meals often
· plenty to drink (water or milk)
· treat foods now and then
· an opportunity to be physically active
 
Food play, games and activities help teach children about healthy food choices.
 
 
36 months plus
 
What to feed
 
· Solid food should be the  main source of nutrients
· The same food as the rest of the family
 · A balanced diet of the following:
-  meat, fish, poultry, eggs or protein alternatives
-  bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta (preferably wholegrain)
-  fruit and vegetables (whole is preferable)
-  dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods 
 
Fluid – good old fashioned water is the most economical and only required fluid from this age. Milk is also a good fluid source
Daily Needs
 
Water
it is the best fluid and cows milk is also a good fluid source. 
As a rough guideline –
children need 4 – 6 glasses of water a day*
*this varies based on the child, temperature, activity level etc and therefore is only a guideline.
 
Solids -
As a general guide, a portion size is what can fit in the palm of a child’s hand or approximately a quarter to half an adult portion size.
 
A healthy balanced diet includes the following food groups:
 
  • meat, fish, poultry, eggs or alternatives – 2 portions daily
 
Some ideas –
1 serving = 2 slices of cooked meat (about 100 g), ¾ cup mince or casserole (195 g), 1 egg (50 g), medium fillet of fish (100 g), ¾ cup dried cooked beans (135 g), 2 drumsticks or 1 chicken leg (110 g)
 
  • bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta (preferably wholegrain) –pre schoolers 4 potions daily 
 
Some ideas -
1 serving grains = 1 roll (50 g), 1 medium slice of bread (26 g), ½ cup muesli (55 g), ½ cup cooked cereal (130 g), 1 cup cooked pasta (150 g), 1 cup cooked rice (150 g)
 
  • fruit and vegetables – 5 plus portions daily (2 – 3 Fruit; 2- 3 Vegetables)
 
Some ideas;
Fruit - 1 serving = 1 apple, pear, banana or orange (130 g), 2 small apricots or plums (100 g), ½ cup fresh fruit salad (120 g), ½ cup stewed fruit (135 g)
Veges - 1 serving = 1 medium potato or similar sized root vegetables (135 g), ½ cup cooked vegetables (50–80 g), ½ cup salad (60 g), 1 tomato (80 g).
 
  • dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods – 2 - 4 portions daily.
  
Some ideas -
1 serving diary = 250 ml milk, 1 pottle yoghurt (150 g), 2 slices of cheese (40 g), ¼ cup cottage cheese; ¼ cup pudding).
Reduced fat milk can be offered from this age.
 
3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between.
Points
 
· Children need to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
· Offer water frequently and educate your child as to the importance of water.
· Empower your child to make their own food choices and educate them about food.
· Children love to help in the garden, shopping, choosing food or in the kitchen - which is great way for them to learn about food.
· Offer your children new foods and different ethnic foods to keep food fun.
· Choking is still a hazard – always supervise your toddler when eating and encourage them to be seated whilst eating. Avoid whole nuts until 5 years old. 
· Small children vary in the amount they eat –remember that they should eat little and often rather than three larger meals a day.
· Healthy snacks are an important part of a healthy diet.
 
As a guide, provide your child:
· many different foods
· enough food for growth
· plenty of healthy snacks
· small meals often
· plenty to drink (water or milk)
· treat foods now and then
· the opportunity to be physically active
 
 

For more information see the following articles: