Dr. Jen Is In: Balancing milk and solids

"How do you know when it’s time to adjust your baby's eating schedule, and what you should switch to? My daughter is 8 1/2 months old. She usually eats a solid +7oz bottle in the morning and again at noon, a 6 oz bottle at 4pm, then a solid +7oz bottle for dinner. But lately she's not very interested in her bottle. I think it's partly because she likes to look around and explore, and eating her bottle bores her and takes too much time. Most of the time I just put her on the floor with her bottle and she'll feed herself, going to play for a minute then coming back for more. If I hold her to feed her she usually gets mad and fights me and refuses to eat at all because she's so concerned about what's going on around her! lol! I switched her nipple to the next size so she can eat faster, and that helps a bit, but she still loses interest in either her lunch, afternoon or dinner bottle (she chugs her morning one). Is it time to cut out a bottle? Or lessen the amount? She'll eat a whole banana or avocado, if that gives you a picture of how much solids she eats. Should I just give her a solid at noon and a small (4oz?) bottle chaser? Any advice is appreciated :-)"

That’s a great question. Figuring out exactly the right amount of milk/formula intake for a who's starting solids (and when that curiosity kicks in!) can be challenging. Your baby is 8 months old; she’s well into solid soft foods and probably will start pincer-grasp self-feeding within a short period of time. Sounds like she is “weaning” herself from a more liquid diet to a more solid one, which is a natural part of development. Every step babies take in the eating category is a step toward more independence. Further, fine-motor skills she's learning will lead to self-feeding.


Here’s Dr. Jen's handy way to think about volume of liquid nutrition for a child who has started solids:
• Between 4 and 6 months, a child should have about six meals a day, each between 32 and 40 ounces. Of course this will vary between babies, but this is a good rule of thumb. I suggest starting solids as late as possible; if you can stretch it to 6 months, that’s great. Even if your baby does start a little bit of solids at this point, try and maintain the liquid nutrition, keeping a focus on pushing the start of solid foods as close to the 6 month milestone as possible.

• Between 6 and 9 months, a child will have two to three feedings each day, each about 1 to 2 tablespoons, of starter foods. There should be super pureed initially, introduced one at a time with a 4 or 5 day waiting period between each new food so your baby’s plate gradually grows more colorful, and four or five liquid meals, perhaps with a little less volume, around 24-32 (or 3 to 4 bottles) each day.

• Between 9 and 12 months, babies will eat three meals a day, each about two to four tablespoons and transitioning into bite-size pieces (remember: soft! small!). Liquid intake at this stage also goes down (as you are experiencing) to three or four feeds a day, again at a lesser volume - 20 to 30 ounces per day.

What About Water?
Babies younger than 6 months do not need water intake on a regular basis - in fact water may lead to problems for the baby's essential body processes. Your pediatrician may recommend a little bit of water for various reasons, and certainly take his or her advice. By the age of 6 to 12 months, babies still don't need much water, but introducing a bit via a bottle or sippy cup can assist in yours getting comfortable with the texture and “taste” of water. If it is extremely hot outside, it is important for a baby at this age to have about one bottle of water each day in addition to the nutritive intake described above. By the way, I do not recommend juice – period – for babies.

So, what you are experiencing is NORMAL! She’s growing, she’s exploring. She’s already giving you a run for your money. Welcome to parenthood’s constantly changing challenges!


Dr. Jen® is a real pediatrician, a mother of four (girl twins & boy twins!) and an inventor - and she's smiling through it all!  Learn more about Dr. Jen®, the multi-tasking mommy doctor that "gets it", by visiting her website!

* This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.

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Comment by Lisa Robles on July 1, 2011 at 2:53pm

Cara, if you type in "cow milk versus goat milk" it will give lots of info.  It's suppose to be better for digestion and babies who are more prone to lactose intolerance.  Was just wondering if anyone has personal experience.  I think my husband and I have agreed to try it instead of cows milk.

Does anyone else have suggestions on what meats to start with and how they are prepared?

Comment by Lisa Robles on June 30, 2011 at 12:18am
any thoughts on cow milk versus goat milk?
Comment by Annie Rivera on June 28, 2011 at 10:39am
@Melissa- I don't know that I've ever heard that breast fed babies are thinner. In fact, my son (now 9 months and exclusively breast fed-- in fact, he refused even 1 oz of formula mixed in with 3 oz breast milk when he was little) is a chubby little man. I think some babies are just thinner to begin with. My cousin's 2 year old is 21 pounds and so is my 9 month old. Was your daughter perhaps premature? That's the only thing I can think of. But, I am not a doctor. I'm sure your doc will let you know and give any suggestions as to what you should change if there is in fact a problem. Good luck!
Comment by Kristan Alvarez on June 27, 2011 at 9:57am
I'd been curious about this also so I'm glad someone addressed this issue. My baby is 7 months and on three mini-meals a day along with nursing just as frequently as before it seems. I also give him a bottle of water and while I was hesitant to do so at first, we're in TEXAS, so sometimes it's just too hot to nurse if we're out and about. On the other hand, he still nurses plenty at night and has always been at the top if not over the growth chart since he was born. He's just got a hearty appetite!
Comment by Melissa Gordon on June 24, 2011 at 12:15pm
I am wondering this is my second daughter & she is 25 wks. I breastfed my oldest til she was 9 months my production wasn't high enough so I had to supplement some with formula, my youngest is exclusively bf & she is within the range of the feedings u mentioned but when we went for our 4 month visit she was 11 lbs & our pedi said she was a little on the small side, we r supposed to go next wk for her 6th month & she is only like 12-13 lbs, I'm worried that he will say she isn't gaining enough! She us a wonderful baby eats usually every 4 hours sometimes goes 5 she doesn't cry until she is hungry, we have played with a few baby foods but I give it to her @ night after her last feeding which is about 7 then she is in bed by 8:30 & sleeps til anywhere from 4am to 6 am. she has chubby little legs & creases on her & she looks healthy & I've always heard that bf babies r a little trimmer then formula babies but is it normal & ok for them to only gain a pound our so in 2 months? Any advise? :)
Comment by Ashley Origi'naal Jones on June 23, 2011 at 11:25am
My daughter will be 10 mos in 3 days also and my only concern with her is that she loves to scream to the top of her lungs she does it wihile she plays but its still a little scary and a little annoying  :) I know shes not hurt but it jus spooks me out because sometimes she will cough a little after she does all that loud screaming and se tends to beat up her brother alot i know shes jus playing but I dont want him to get mad one day and hit her back i guess i could chalk it up to sibling rivalry (early)

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