Beginning at birth, your baby needs about 515 calories or more each day, a number that changes according to his age and needs. In addition to calories, his diet should also consist of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals and come from healthy sources. Since every baby is different, your baby’s doctor can help you determine what his exact diet should entail.
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Premature babies, born before 37 weeks gestation, have different needs than a baby born full-term. They may not be able to swallow, suck or breathe on their own in order to eat and may need an IV or feeding tube in a neonatal care unit. According to Medline Plus, a premature baby typically needs 100 to 120 calories per kilogram of weight daily, but may need more. Doctors or nurses monitor premies consistently to make sure they are getting enough nutrition, and will likely weigh them daily to check their progress. Their nutritional intake can come from breast milk, formula and supplements.
Birth to Three Months
Kids and Nutrition states that from birth to 3 months of age, babies need between 515 to 690 calories a day. At this age, their only source of nutrition should be 18 to 32 ounces of breast milk or formula daily.
Four to Six Months
Between 4 and 6 months of age, babies still need between 515 and 690 calories a day. They get this intake from 28 to 40 ounces of formula or breast milk. If babies can hold up their heads, sit with support and show an interest in foods, their doctor may recommend that they begin eating solid foods. They might eat ¼ to ½ cup of infant cereal a day, combined with ¼ to ½ cup of pureed fruit. Beginning at 6 months of age, babies might be ready to progress to eating 1 to 2 tablespoons of pureed meat or fish daily.
Seven to 12 Months
Beginning at 7 months of age, babies need 795 to 920 calories a day. Their intake will consist of 24 to 36 ounces daily of breast milk or formula until they are 9 months old, and decrease to 18 to 30 ounces daily from 10 to 12 months of age. Babies also need 1 cup of fruit or vegetables a day, ¼ to ½ cup daily servings of meat or fish, and two cups daily of other soft foods such as mashed potatoes, pasta or bread. Depending on the number of teeth babies have, and their experience with food, this food will need to be either mashed or cut into small pieces.
When feeding babies, avoid giving small or slippery items that can be choked on, such as grapes, hot dogs, nuts or seeds. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that babies should not have cow’s milk, honey or citrus until 1 year of age.