Baby feeding stages
Welcome to our general feeding tips page, organised by baby feeding stages from birth to approximately five years of age. Here you’ll find the basic principles, helpful tips, and links to professional resources. Our aim is to provide useful guiding information for everyone from first time mums, to mums of fussy eaters, to dads and caretakers without a clue what to do when it comes to baby’s mealtime.
For more specific information, including recipes and plans, see the pages under the feeding guide tab above. We recommend preparing a baby feeding chart so you don’t miss any details; this way, you can simply pick one component from each category as appropriate for your child’s age, to include at every mealtime (or across the day).
Breastfeeding is not always easy, and can take time to get established, but it’s the best start to your baby’s life.
- Get as much help as possible from midwives, health nurses, lactation consultants and other mums, you will be amazed at how these people can help, from getting the best attachment, helping with sore breasts and nipples, finding the best position for you and your baby, and stopping breastfeeding when the time is right.
- Find a comfortable place and position for you and baby to feed, with baby’s tummy facing your tummy. Use pillows and a stool to help support your baby and feel comfortable, feeding will be better for you and your baby this way.
- Establishing a good attachment and your baby latching on properly, allows your baby to feed easily and prevents sore nipples – if you are having difficulty seek immediate help from your midwife, health nurse or lactation consultant.
- Eat a healthy diet, and eat regularly as you need more calories during breastfeeding than you did when you were pregnant.
- Try and relax, (I know it is easier said than done), but closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths can make the world of difference, once you have breast feeding established it will be something you will not only enjoy, but cherish and love.
- When your baby is old enough, seek resources on how to stop breastfeeding and start solids smoothly.
The benefits of breast feeding are truly worth it:
- Breast milk is packed with antibodies to protect baby against infection.
- Breast milk is always available, the right temperature, sterile and free!
- Breast milk improves your baby’s brain development and visual activity.
- Breast milk helps prevent allergies.
Breast Feeding Support:
Australian Breastfeeding Association
Australian Lactation Consultants
Australian College of Midwives Inc. Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative: BFHI Hospitals
Medela iPhone App
medelaMe is an iPhone application to capture your baby feeding routine. When updating “minuteMe”, you see at one glance your babies feeding times and pumping-sessions, as well as sleeping and crying times over the days. Watching him or her grow steadily while tracking complete data on your iPhone will let you shine at your next check up with your doctor. While “minuteMe” provides an easy overview, “pictureMe” allows you to illustrate your precious diary with photos that you can even synchronise with your Facebook-site at the push of a button.
Get your baby feeding schedule organised with medelaMe now. It’s free!
A bottle can be used to feed a baby breast milk and formula.
- Choose a teat to suit the age of the baby – the flow of milk will vary depending on their age.
- Sterilise bottles and teats
- Always wash hands before preparing a bottle feed.
- Wash all equipment in warm soapy water using a bottle brush and rinse with cold water.
- Sterilise equipment either by boiling in a saucepan for 5 minutes, using a microwave or electric sterilizer, or a chemical solution.
- Warm bottle to room temperature.
- Don’t use a microwave as it can cause ‘hot spots’ in the milk that may burn your baby’s mouth.
- Always test the warmed bottle on your forearm before giving it to baby.
- Cradle your baby in your arm when feeding so you and your baby are comfortable.
- Never leave a baby with a bottle unattended as this could cause choking and tooth decay.
- Always replace any damaged cracked bottles or teats straight away.
- Throw away any unused milk (breast and formula), as it is unsafe to reheat due to risk of growing bacteria.
When you start feeding your baby solids, always give your baby a breast feed first as this is still the most important part of their diet.
- Start with plain foods such as pureed fruit and vegetables and rice cereal.
- Introduce one food at a time.
- Puree and cook all food to a fine soft texture to begin with, and as they start to enjoy food you can slowly introduce lumpier foods.
- Avoid all hard and small soft foods (eg whole grapes) that could cause your baby to choke.
- If you have a family history of allergies it is best to avoid these foods until 12 months of age and seek advise from your family doctor before doing so.
- Use a small spoon, which has smooth rounded edges.
- Offer cool boiled water during the day (after breast feeds).
- Avoid feeding babies and toddlers honey and nuts.
- Always practice safe hygiene i.e. wash hands, clean surfaces and utensils, always use fresh food, use a separate board to prepare raw meats and always cook chicken, meat and fish thoroughly.
- Use a highchair with a restraint to keep your baby safe, and make sure your baby is sitting up, this way your baby will be less likely to choke.
- Never leave your baby unattended while they are eating.
- Use a bib to keep your baby’s clothes clean. Let your baby play with food, this allows your baby to feel and smell and experience the textures and taste and gets them used to different flavours, as well as helping them with a love of food and eating.
- Keep trying with foods your baby may not of liked at the start, you will be surprised once your baby has started eating different foods how their palette adjusts and becomes accustomed to new tastes and flavours.
By 12 months of age your toddler should be eating similar meals to the rest of the family.
- Make sure all meals and snacks are healthy.
- Avoid salt and large amounts of sugar in all meals.
- Gradually introduce full fat milk as the main drink offered after a meal.
- Encourage your toddler to use a cup with a lid (sippie cup).
- Make mealtimes enjoyable and unhurried. Try and eat with your baby as a family and set a good example with what the whole family eats.
- Children learn eating habits at a very early age and are great imitators.
- Keep your baby safe by keeping hot food, drinks and soups out of reach to avoid nasty accidents.
- Encourage your baby to feed itself, with a spoon or their hands, this encourages a love of food and eating, even though it’s messy!
- Avoid giving your toddler too much to drink before and during mealtimes.
3 meals a day plus snacks should include:
- Full fat dairy food eg cheese & yogurt
- Carbohydrates – Wheat based breakfast cereals, bread, rice, pasta and couscous.
- Fruit –ripe fresh fruit that isn’t too hard (also cooked and mashed if preferred) eg strawberries and seedless watermelon – always cut seedless grapes in half to avoid choking.
- Vegetables – fresh cooked, grated and mashed vegetables eg sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli, tomato.
- Protein – chicken, meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils that are easy to chew eg baked beans, tinned tuna.
At 3 years of age your child should be eating a well balanced diet of 3 meals a day with snacks, and also learning to enjoy meals at the table with the rest of the family.
Plan regular meal and snack times to develop healthy eating habits.
- Water and milk are the best drinks for this age group, fruit juices, cordial and fizzy drinks should be avoided.
- Healthy meals and snacks are important, avoiding food that is high in salt and sugar.
- This is an age when parents often become concerned about their child’s eating habits
- Always have a variety of healthy foods on hand to offer your child.
- Offer small portions and allow them to stop eating when they are full.
- Limit distractions by turning off the TV and games.
- Limit too many liquids including juice and milk as they can lead to poor eating at mealtimes.
- Use non-food rewards e.g. stickers, kisses and jokes.
Every child is different, but the general daily nutritional guideline for this age group is:
- Carbohydrates (breads, cereals, pasta, rice) 3 – 7 servings
- Fruit – 1 serving
- Vegetables – 2 servings
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) may be low fat at this age – 2 servings
- Protein (eggs, chicken, fish, meat, beans, nuts, lentils) – 2 servings