The Essentials of Infant & Young Child Feeding

Age: 0 to around 6 months

Stage: Milk Feeding

What:

  • Exclusive breastfeeding
  • Infant formula as an inferior but the only alternative if breastfeeding is not opted for
  • Avoid any other food earlier than 4 months of age to prevent sensitization to food allergens

How much:

  • Led by the baby’s satiety cues (Biological needs)

When:

  • Feed when the baby is hungry (Biological needs)
  • Nighttime feedings are usually not needed after 4-6 months

How:

  • Fed by caregivers
  • Direct breastfeeding (Breastmilk can be fed by cup, spoon, syringe or bottle if feeding on the breast is not feasible)
  • Formula milk fed by bottle

Age: 6 to 18-24 months

Stage: Transitional Feeding

What:

Milk

  • Continue breastfeeding till 2 years of age and beyond while introducing solid foods, or
  • Infant formula feeding for babies <12 months; cow milk (full-fat) >12 months old if the diet contains a variety of iron-rich foods

Complementary food

  • Include iron-rich foods from 6 months onwards
  • Include foods that are nutrient-rich so that solid foods can gradually replace milk feeding
  • Offer food with texture, progressing from smooth to lumpy, according to the baby’s oro-motor skill development.  Most children should be eating food with small lumps by 10 months
  • Continue introducing new foods to build up a variety in the diet by around 12 to 18 months of age
  • Limit salt intake
  • Avoid sugary drinks and limit intake of fruit juice (≤120 ml per day)

How much:

  • Allow the child to decide how much to eat and feed according to hunger / satiety cues
  • Volume of Milk: 500-600 ml at 9-12months, 360-480 ml after 12 months.  Gradually reduce the amount of milk feeding so that the child eats more solid food

When:

  • Stop night feeding by 6-9 months
  • 3 regular main meals & 2 to 3 snacks after 1 year of age
  • Transition to family mealtime

Where:

  • Regular seat at a regular site
  • A high chair or booster chair is preferred
  • Environment is free from any distraction – no TV, electronic devices or toys
  • Include baby at the table for family meals after 8-9 months old

How:

  • “Parallel feeding” – fed by caregiver & encourage the children to self-feed
  • Milestones of self Feeding
    • Finger feeding – 8 month
    • Using spoon to feed self by 18-24m
    • Using a fork – after 12 months
  • Introduce cup between 7 - 9 months
  • Stop using the bottle for drinking milk between 12 and 18 months

Age: 2 years and beyond

Stage: Eating Family Meals

What:

  • Balanced diet with a variety of food from 5 major food groups
  • Share family food, give smaller pieces if the food is tough
  • Parents decide what foods are available on the dining table, and offer choices
  • Milk:
    • Continue breastfeeding, or
    • Reduced fat milk or calcium fortified soy milk
  • Limit salt intake
  • Offer vegetable and whole fruit in place of juice
  • Offer water and avoid sugary drinks

How much:

  • Allow the child to decide how much to eat
  • Milk – limit to ≤ 480ml

When:

  • 3 regular main meals & 2 to 3 snacks at intervals of at least 2 hours
  • Adapt to family meal time

Where:

  • Sit at dining table and eat with family members
  • Environment is free from any distraction – no TV, electronic devices or toys

How:

  • Eat independently under adult supervision
  • Use cup for drinking, spoon for eating, learn to use chopsticks
  • Establish meal time rules to manage mealtime behaviours