The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families states that the time frame for early brain growth begins at mid-gestation, while the child is still in his mother's womb, and goes until age 2.  Serious consequences can occur if children do not get enough nutrition. The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families states that malnourished children have smaller brains due to a "reduced dendritic growth, reduced myelination and the production of fewer glia." The smaller size can result in behavioral and cognitive problems, which can impede a child's performance in school.  75% of the brains capacity develops between birth and the age of three!

Ages 4 to 6 months

 

-Breast milk or formula, plus semi-liquid iron-fortified rice cereal

-Begin with about 1 teaspoon (tsp) dry rice cereal, mixed with 4-5 tsp breast milk or formula; gradually thicken the consistency

-After rice cereal, add other grain cereals, such as barley or oats

-Baby should show some of these signs:

*Holds head up

*Shows interest in food

*Sits well in high chair

*Seems hungry after 8-10 fl oz liquid feedings and/or 40 fl oz of formula in a day

*Makes chewing motions

Ages 6 to 8 months

 

-Breast milk or formula, plus iron-fortified cereals, 2-3 times per day

-Pureed or strained vegetables (start vegetables before fruits) begin with 1 tsp at each feeding, increase to 1/¼up to ½ cup

-Pureed or strained fruits; begin with 1 tsp at each feeding, increase to1/4 cup to ½ cup

-Introduce one new food every 3 days to make sure baby is not allergic (how to introduce a new food)

Ages 8 to 10 months

 

-Breast milk or formula, plus iron-fortified cereals, 1-2 times per day

-Mashed fruits and vegetables, ¼ to ½ cup per day

-Finger foods (O-shaped cereal, teething crackers)

-Small amounts of soft pasteurized cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese (1/4 to 1/3 cup)

-Introduce one food at a time, allowing at least 3 days before introducing the next new food.

-Baby should show some of these signs:

*Transfers objects from one hand to another

*Picks up objects with thumb and forefinger (pincer grasp)

*Puts everything in mouth

*Moves jaw in a chewing motion

Ages 10 to 12 months

 

-Breast milk or formula, plus iron-fortified cereals, 1-2 times per day

-Bite-size, soft-cooked vegetables, ¼ to ½ cup per day

-Fruit cut into cubes or strips or mashed.  ¼ cup to ½ cup per day

-Small amounts of soft pasteurized cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese

-Small amounts of protein (egg yolks, ground or chopped meats and poultry, tofu)

-Combination foods (mac & cheese, stews)

-Introduce one food at a time, allowing at least 3 days before introducing the next food.

-Baby should show some of these signs:

*Has more teeth  

*Is trying to use a spoon

Breast milk &/or iron fortified formula should be continued through the 1st year of life.  Solid foods may be added at 4-6 months.  Adding cereal and solids to formula & then feeding by bottle is not recommended.  This can lead to obesity and faulty eating patters.  Remember that every time a baby cries he/she is not necessarily hungry, especially if he/she has recently been fed.  Sugar should not be added to water given to infants.  Never let the infant go to sleep with a juice or milk bottle in his mouth.  This can result in early tooth decay.  Cow’s milk in not recommended for infants under 12 months of age.  Skim milk should not be used for the first 2 years of life since it contains no fat.  Fat is needed for the infants growth.  Avoid sweetened beverages such as juice, soda, sport drinks, or tea!