Baby feeding patterns

Alternative names 
Feeding patterns for babies


Baby feeding patterns refer to the time schedule for giving a baby food, whether through bottle or breast feedings.


Breast milk is digested more rapidly than cow’s milk formula. Therefore, breast-fed babies usually require feeding every 2 to 3 hours. While this feeding may develop into a pattern, a pattern should not be forced on the breast-fed baby. It is important that the breasts be emptied regularly to prevent engorgement and suppression of the milk-secreting cells.

Bottle-fed babies can be worked into a more regular schedule that better accommodates the family. These babies only require feeding about every 3 to 4 hours.

You will know that your baby is being kept well hydrated if she is having at least 5 urine diapers a day.

Regardless of the method you choose to feed your baby, whole cow’s milk should not be given until your baby is one year old. Babies under one year have a difficult time digesting cow’s milk.

Between 6 and 12 months you can begin introducing solid foods. Remember that most of your baby’s calories are still coming from the breast milk or formula.

Foods should only be introduced one at a time. This allows you to observe for allergic reactions. New foods should also only be given when your child is hungry.

At 6 months, or when your health care provider recommends, you can begin pureed, strained, or finely mashed foods. Between 6 and 7 months, you can begin crackers, vegetables, and fruit. Between 9 and 12 months, commercially prepared junior foods or chopped table foods can be eaten.

For more information on age-appropriate foods see:

  • Diet for age  
  • Breastfeeding  
  • Formulas


Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Levon Ter-Markosyan, D.M.D.

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