Recommended Food Intake for Infants and Toddlers
Good nutrition during infancy and toddlerhood is best achieved through a healthy diet. Daily caloric requirements and feeding frequencies change at different age levels. Each infant and toddler has different caloric requirements, appetite levels and energy levels. The following age-appropriate feeding requirements list the average feeding times and quantities; feeding schedules and amounts may need to be adjusted for a particular child:
0 - 4 to 6 Months: Infants should only be fed breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first 4 to 6 months of life. Newborn breastfed infants should be fed on demand or about 8 to 12 times a day. Newborn infants fed iron-fortified formula should be fed 2 to 3 ounces of formula, 6 to 8 times a day. Once a baby reaches about 2 months old the amount of feeding times a day decreases, while the amount fed at each meal increases. Breasted babies will determine how much to eat per feeding. After 2 months of age, bottle fed babies should be offered a bottle 4 to 6 times a day or more often if the baby demands it and will gradually increase to eating 6 to 8 ounces of formula per feeding.
4 to 6 Months: At 4 to 6 months of age, infants have higher energy requirements and become capable of swallowing simple foods. Feed babies at this age baby cereal, mixed with breast milk or formula, twice a day. Start with 2 tablespoons of dry cereal mixed with enough breast milk or formula to hydrate the cereal. Gradually increase the amount of cereal to 4 tablespoons, mixed with breast milk or formula.
6 to 8 Months: At between 6 to 8 months of age, start introducing new foods such as mashed fruits and vegetables. Gradually introduce one new food every three days. Feed four - 2 to 3 tablespoon servings of fruits and vegetables over the course of a day, divided into 3 meal times. Continue to breast or bottle feed 3 to 5 times a day. Between meals, limited amounts of appropriate age-based finger foods, such as baby biscuits can be offered.
8 to 12 Months: Between 8 and 12 months of age, infants should breast or bottle feed 3 to 4 times a day. Fruit and vegetable intake should increase to a 3 to 4 tablespoon size serving four times a day. In addition, one - 3 to 4 tablespoon serving of pureed meat should be fed a day. Gradually introduce meats into the diet, one at a time, once a week. Egg yolks can be fed as a meat replacement 3 to 4 times a week.
1 to 2 Years: Once a baby reaches one year old, solid foods should make up the majority of caloric requirements. After one year old, formula should be discontinued and water placed in the bottle if necessary. Breastfed babies can continue to breastfeed along with solid foods. The types of solid foods should be varied to include whole grains (wheat bread and oatmeal), dairy products (whole milk, cheese and yogurt), fruits and vegetables and meat. Toddlers tend to eat small amounts per meal and require 4 to 6 feedings a day, meaning they should be fed 2 to 3 snacks a day, in addition to meals.
2 to 3 Years: Children between the ages of 2 and 3 years old require between 1,000 and 1,400 calories a day, which amounts to approximately 4 ounces of whole grains, 1-1/2 cups vegetables, 1-cup fruit, 2 cups of dairy and 3 ounces of meat or other protein sources such as beans. Children at this age tend to do well having their caloric requirements divided up between three meals and 2 to 4 snacks a day.
The USDA offers Choose My Plate as a way to plan meals for every age group.
The USDA Food Pyramid for Kids lists daily food serving and exercise requirements.