Feeding and Breastfeeding Your 8 to 12 Month Old

Sample Meal Plan and Guidelines for the Addition of New Foods

Mother breastfeeding 8 month old
How often should you breastfeed your 8 to 12-month-old?. Judith Haeusler/Cultura/Getty Images

Feeding and Breastfeeding Your 8 to 12 Month Old

By eight months old, your baby is probably eating cereal, fruits, and vegetables. He may be learning to grab finger foods and drink from a cup. At this age, it is common for a baby to have three meals a day plus a few snacks. And, breast milk or formula should still be a regular part of your child’s diet.

How Much Breast Milk or Formula Does Your 8 to 12 Month Old Need?

Between 8 and 12 months, your baby needs between 750 to 900 calories a day.

Half of that - about 450 of those calories - should come from breast milk or formula. That's approximately 24 ounces (720 ml) of breast milk or formula each day.

Is Breastfeeding at 8 to 12 Months Still Beneficial?

After the first 4 to 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the continuation of breastfeeding along with the addition of complementary foods for a year or longer. The World Health Organization recommends that breastfeeding continues for two years or longer. These organizations make these recommendations because breastfeeding provides many health and developmental benefits to young children well after six months of age.

Can You Still Breastfeed Exclusively at 8 Months and Beyond?

Breastfeeding is all your child needs for the first 4 to 6 months. But, after six months your breast milk will not be enough to provide your baby with all the nutrition that he needs as he grows.

Your child needs additional foods that contain vital nutrients such as iron, protein, and zinc. Breast milk is still important, but it needs to be part of a complete diet.

A child that is exclusively breastfed for eight months or longer can become dangerously malnourished. Introducing solid foods may become more difficult, and a child may need to breastfeed constantly to try to get the calories and nutrition that he's lacking.

But, by gradually adding new foods to your child's diet starting between four and six months, you will be putting your child on the right track to eating a variety of healthy foods and snacks by the time he's 8 to 12 months old. Your child's doctor will guide you and advise you about when to start and what to try. 

8 Tips for Adding New Foods to Your Baby's Diet at 8 to 12 Months

Give small feedings very often during the day. Infants have little bellies, so it's best to feed them small amounts of food throughout the day.

Don’t force feedings. Babies tend to be inconsistent about eating. One day they will eat finger foods and purees willingly, and the next day they may refuse any type of solid food and opt for the breast or a bottle instead.

Give finger foods. By now, your baby is using her thumb and forefinger to pick up small pieces of food. Encourage self-feeding by providing different finger foods for your baby.

Try the spoon. Begin using a spoon to feed your baby and help him to try to feed himself.

At first, he's more likely to play with the spoon or throw it. He'll eventually use it to eat, but it may not be until after he is a year old.

Use a sippy cup. At this age, many infants can begin to hold and practice drinking water (or breast milk) from a sippy cup.

Introduce textured foods. Your baby can now chew, so you can start to add foods that have different textures. Cut-up table foods and soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, pudding, yogurt, jello, and eggs, are good choices.

Add new foods slowly. Continue to introduce new foods one at a time every few days. Watch for signs of a food allergy, which can include a rash, diarrhea, gassiness, spitting up and vomiting.

Watch for constipation. Cereal and bananas are popular foods that babies eat at this age, but they can lead to constipation. If your child starts to have difficulty with bowel movements, try prunes or other fruits and limit binding foods for a while.

Appropriate Finger Foods for Your 8 to 12 Month Old

These are typical finger foods that your baby may enjoy under adult supervision. Always stay close to your child and watch for signs of choking.

  • Cheerios
  • Small pieces of bread
  • Cut-up chicken
  • Diced cooked vegetables
  • Small pieces of soft fruits
  • Cut-up pasta
  • Teething biscuits
  • Infant cookies and crackers

Foods to Avoid: Choking Hazards for Infants and Toddlers

These foods are dangerous and can cause your baby to choke. Avoid giving these items to your infant or toddler.

  • Raw vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Whole grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Gum
  • Hard candy
  • Lollipops
  • Hot dogs
  • Raisins
  • Dried Fruit

Sample Feeding and Breastfeeding Schedule for an 8 to 12 Month Old

Wake Up:
Breastfeed or 4 to 6 ounces of breast milk or formula

Morning Meal:
2 ounces of cereal
2 ounces of fruit
Breastfeed or 4 to 6 ounces of breast milk or formula

Mid-Morning Snack:
2 ounces of fruit or vegetables
Finger foods
Offer water in a sippy cup

Afternoon Meal:
2 ounces of yogurt, meat, or cheese
2 ounces of vegetables
Breastfeed or 4 to 6 ounces of breast milk or formula

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
2 ounces of fruit or vegetables
Finger foods
Offer water in a sippy cup

Evening Meal:
2 ounces of protein, such as chicken or meat
2 ounces of vegetables
2 ounces of fruit
2 ounces of a starch, such as pasta, rice, or potatoes
4 to 6 ounces of breast milk or formula

At Bedtime:
Breastfeed or 6 to 8 ounces of breast milk or formula



American Academy of Pediatrics. Your Baby’s First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2010.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2015.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

World Health Organization, UNICEF. Global strategy for infant and young child feeding. World Health Organization; 2003.

Continue Reading