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How much food does my baby need?

Guidelines for a gradual introduction to your family’s foods.

Milk is still the main food for 12 months.

baby eating

Starting solids is about your baby tasting and learning to handle food in their mouth and swallow it. It's not about satisfying hunger. This is important playtime for your baby as they practise their new skills. 

As you introduce family foods from 6 months, your baby will still be having plenty of breastfeeds each day. Throughout your baby's first year of life breastmilk (or infant formula for a formula-fed baby) remains their main source of nutrition. Any family foods that your baby takes will be extra to their breastmilk intake. 

How many 'meals'?

To start with, your baby will only have a very small amount, perhaps less than a teaspoon or the taste of a finger food. Most babies won't be having any significant amounts of food until about 7 months. 

One small ‘meal’ of solid food each day will probably be enough for a while. You can slowly build up to three meals each day (plus drinks and snacks) over the next 6 months.  

Below is a general guide for daily amounts of different food groups for babies aged 7 to 12 months, based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Babies will vary so some may need a little more and others a little less.  
 
Each category has a recommended amount that you can make up from just one of the foods or a mix of foods in that category. For example, half the amount of meat plus half the amount of nut butter equals the full amount for the first category. 

Focus on the good sources of iron first.

What if my baby doesn’t want to eat solids? 

Some babies are keen eaters of solids and others don’t show much interest other than to play with the food. In the first 12 months, breastmilk is their main source of nutrition with small amounts of other foods, particularly iron-rich foods. Keep offering your baby small amounts of whatever the family is eating.  

Formulas marketed for children over 12 months such as ‘toddler’ or ‘growing-up’ milks do not help children learn to eat normal foods, do not provide any extra benefits over family foods and are not recommended by health experts. Apart from breastmilk, it is best if a child’s diet is wholly made up of family foods. 

Some parents wonder if they should cut back on breastfeeds, even wean, to encourage their toddler to eat more solids. This may or may not make a difference. Some toddlers can be quite picky eaters in general. It can be reassuring to know that even when they aren’t taking much in the way of food, they can still be having some breastfeeds. 

If you are particularly concerned that they aren’t taking any solids, you might try offering other foods when baby is hungriest and following up with a breastfeed. Ultimately you can’t force your baby to take solid foods. It’s important to make mealtimes as relaxed as possible.   

  • Your baby doesn't need large amounts of solid foods.  
  • Offer a small amount and always stop when your baby doesn't want any more.  
  • Breastfeed your baby before you offer other foods.  
  • Then you can be sure they are getting their most important food first and they will be relaxed about trying other foods. 

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022

Read more about introducing solids

For evidence-led info and practical tips

ABA booklets

Family foods booklet