When it is time to start solid foods, the daily schedule may shift some, but your pattern should stay the same. This post outlines when and where solid foods should fall in your baby’s daily schedule.
One of my favorite stages with babies is introducing solid foods to them. Even when you introduce a food they love, their reaction to the first bite is often worthy of an America’s Funniest Home Videos entry. The nose gets scrunched up, the eyes may shut, and a shiver runs through the body. You can rarely tell if your child will love a food or not from the first bite.
While starting solids is entertaining, it can also be confusing. When you are going through giggles, you may also wonder when your baby should be eating those solid foods. Right with the liquid feeding? Should it be spaced out? What is the right call? I have the answers for you.
Don’t make the mistake of feeding baby too often.
Baby Feeding Schedule with Solid Foods
I often get questions that go something like this, “Hello! My six month old hasn’t been sleeping well since we started solids. Can you see something wrong in our schedule?
7 AM Nurse
9 AM Solids
9:30 AM Nap
11 AM Nurse
1 PM Solids
1:30 PM Nap
4 PM Nurse
6 PM Solids
7 PM Bedtime”
I immediately know what the problem is when I see that schedule.
Do you see it?
Baby, who has been breastfeeding or bottlefeeding every 3-4 hours, is suddenly being fed every two hours instead of every 3-4 hours.
A six month old does not need to eat more often than a six week old.
From the time you brought your baby home from the hospital, you worked on establishing a 2.5-3 hour routine, which meant baby ate every 2.5-3 hours. As young as five weeks old, some babies can go 2.5-3.5 hours. By four months, many babies are on a four hour feeding schedule.
Then we introduce solids and feed them every two hours.
Sure, there were times baby ate every two hours, especially during growth spurts, but that was never what you were aiming for. If your baby tried to consistently eat every two hours, you would have scoured the book, blog, and/or fellow Babywise mom brains for help on getting that feeding interval longer.
When your baby starts solids, stick with the 3-4 hour interval in your routine.
Stick with eat/wake/sleep. When your baby wakes from nap, start with your liquid feeding. Then move on to solids. Feed as much solid food as your baby will take–do not force more and do not limit it (unless you have been instructed otherwise by your baby’s pediatrician). Once your baby is done eating the solids, have playtime. Finish up with a nap. Once baby wakes up, start the cycle again.
If your baby is really not hungry at all for any solids, you can feed half of the liquid feeding, do solids, and then feed the other half. If you are breastfeeding, you feed one side, solids, second side (or do half time if you do single-side feedings). If you are bottle feeding, do half of the bottle, solids, then second half of the bottle.
Feed baby solids three times per day.
That will mean that if you are on a four hour schedule with no dreamfeed, so you are at four feedings a day, your baby will not eat solids at every single meal. Pick three. The three you pick really don’t matter in general; it just matters that you pick the best three feedings for you and your baby.
You might pick your first meal of the day so that it is like “breakfast.” You might skip that first one because you have so much milk and your baby isn’t hungry enough to add solids. Feeding solids adds a fair amount of time to your feeding time, so you might base when you feed solids based on what your daily routine looks like. If you have a 3 PM feeding and need to pick other children up from school at 3:30, for example, you might not want to do solids at 3 PM. I have had solid meals at different feedings among my four children. I always did what made the most sense with each child.
Another note, you want to get to three solid feedings per day at some point, but you don’t start there. Start with one. Give it some time (at least a few days, but maybe even as long as a couple of weeks) before adding a second. Give it some more time, then add your third.
Feeding solids is not as confusing to work into your daily routine as it might seem at first. When you started a schedule with your baby in the beginning, you were starting as you mean to go on. Go on as you intended when you started. Feed the entire meal, milk and solids, at once. Feed every 3-4 hours. Land at 3 solid feedings a day. Do those things and you will be on the right course!