Baby feeding patterns refer to the time schedule for giving a baby food through a bottle or breast.
Feeding patterns for babies
Breast milk is digested more rapidly than cow's milk formula. Breastfed babies usually require feeding every 1 - 3 hours. While a pattern may develop, a schedule should not be forced on the baby. It is important to empty the breasts regularly to prevent them from becoming engorged and stopping the production of milk.
Formula-fed babies usually require feeding about every 2 - 4 hours.
Five wet diapers a day will tell you that your baby is getting enough milk to drink.
Regardless whether you choose breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your baby should not have whole cow's milk until the age of 1 year. Babies under age 1 have a difficult time digesting cow's milk. Do not feed babies younger than 4 months any solid food, since they do not have the ability to digest it.
Solid foods can be introduced between ages 4 and 12 months. However, most of the baby's calories should still be coming from breast milk or formula.
Foods should be introduced one at a time. This lets you be able to watch for allergic reactions. New foods should be given only when a child is hungry.
At 4 months, or when your health care provider recommends, you can start your baby on pureed, strained, or finely mashed foods. Between 6 and 7 months, you can introduce crackers, vegetables, and fruit. Between 9 and 12 months, commercially prepared junior foods or chopped table foods are allowed.
For more information on age-appropriate foods see:
Stettler N, Bhatia J, Parish A, Stallings VA. Feeding healthy infants, children, and adolescents. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 42.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.