Search Ask the Dietitian



Infants & Toddlers Under 2 Years


  1. Where can I find a dietitian who works with infants and toddlers? Answer
  2. Our ten month old daughter has come out in pimply bumps on her cheeks. We introduced strawberries into her diet. Is that a common occurance in babies? Answer
  3. I am concerned about my baby's weight gain relative to the weight charts. Answer
  4. I have a daughter who will be two and she still takes a bottle. I would like to know if you have any suggestions on how to break this habit? Answer
  5. My friend's one year old has constipation problems and has been put on a high fiber diet by her doctor. Answer
  6. I was wondering how to figure the proper calorie intake for my son? He is 5 months old. Answer
  7. Our 2 year old suffered from what we believed at the time to be colic. Answer
  8. We have a twenty-eight month old son who has been small all his life. He has a small appetite and frequently skips meals. Any advice would be a great help. Answer
  9. Tell me if you have heard anything about steroids in the formula Similac? Answer


  10. I hae a 12 month old daughter. Her pediatrician is very concerned taht she is not growing. He requrested I give her antihistimine before bed to increase her appetite. I am very reluctant. Answer
  11. My baby is almost 10 months. The doctor said not to start meat until the baby is a year old. Can you help me understand why? Answer
  12. My baby has just turned 3 months and is drinking two 8 ounce bottles every 4 hours. Would it be better if he ate a little cereal and formula? Answer
  13. My son's pediatrician told me I could start increasing his diet. I read about feeding them single foods before mixed so I am not sure what is best. Answer
  14. I have concern about the question on honey. Answer
  15. My pediatrician told me to try Isomil on our 4 month boy. He is on Prosobee now. How different are these two products? Answer
  16. I have a little guy that has had diarrhea for a few days. The doctor told me to give him clear liquids, applesauce and banana. What else can he have? Answer
  17. My granddaughter is six months old and my daughter is just nursing her. The baby looks healthy, but shouldn't my daughter be feeding her cereal or something else? Answer
  18. Everything I read says that children do not need salt or sugar. How much sodium or sugar is too muh? Answer


Where can I find a dietitian who works with infants and toddlers?

The Pediatric Nutrition dietetic practice group of the American Dietetic Association specializes in working with infants, children and adolescents. You can find a dietitian at the American Dietetic Association. Include your zip code or city / state and the type of service you want (individual consultation) with expertise in pediatric nutrition.


Our ten month old daughter has recently come out in pimply bumps on her cheeks which are sometimes red. We introduced strawberries into her diet just over a week ago which she adores and was eating one each day. Initially there was no reaction, but now these bumps have appeared. Would you agree that it's likely to be the strawberries? Is that a common occurrence in babies? Your advice on this matter would be appreciated.

Strawberries are not recommend for children under the age of 2 due to potential food allergies. Also, don't offer her chocolate because of the same reason. A person's allergic reaction to a food may be immediate or increase after each time it is eaten. So it is not surprising that your daughter did not have an immediate reaction, but is starting to react after several exposures to strawberries.

You should also consider that the bumps may be chicken pox. Don't offer your daughter any more strawberries or raspberries in any form, including fruit jams or strawberry ice cream. If the pimply bumps go away and don't return, she may have an allergy to strawberries. If the bumps return, make an appointment for her to see her doctor to diagnose the cause of the bumps. If she develops a fever or swallowing problems, take her to see her doctor or any emergency room immediately. In the meantime, if either you or her father didn't have chicken pox as a child, you can catch it from your daughter. Better she get chicken pox out of the way now as it is more painful for adults.


I am concerned about my baby's weight gain relative to the weight charts. Following are her measurements:

Age Weight Length
birth 8 pounds 5 ounces 21.5 inches
2 months 11 pounds 10 ounces 25 inches
4 months 13 pounds 10 ounces 26.25 inches
6 months 15 pounds 26.75 inches
9 months 16 pounds 9 ounces 27.75 inches


My 9 month old daughter eats breast milk, fruits, vegetables, rice cereal and whole wheat bagels. Recently, she has begun eating 3 solid food meals a day of 3 to 4 tablespoons each.

From 7 to 9 months, however, she ate only 2 meals a day each one consisting of a tablespoon of rice cereal and a tablespoon of fruit or vegetable.

I have three questions:
  1. My daughter's weight, from one measurement to the next, has dropped more than two percentile values relative to the charts that our pediatrician uses. Her 9 month weight is listed as the 20th percentile while her 6 month weight is at the 75th. Our pediatrician isn't concerned. She looks well-fleshed and is extremely active (standing, cruising, and crawling). I'd value your opinion of her weight gain.
  2. From reading your website today I see that breastfed babies tend to weigh less than their formula fed counterparts. Where can I get the Worldwide Health Organization's charts? Perhaps they would give me a better idea of my daughter's weight relative to other breastfed babies.
  3. Because my daughter's birth weight is large relative to her current weight, I wonder if I gained too much weight during my pregnancy. I gained 30 pounds and was 5'5, 137 pounds before becoming pregnant. Should I strive to gain less weight with a second pregnancy?
Thanks for your help.

First relax as your daughter is gaining weight and physically active. I would be concerned if her weight had plateau or she was just lying around not moving. Babies will eat when hungry and it is best not to make a big deal about food. Children quickly learn what gets their parent's attention. The foods she is eating sound fine other than I would expand the variety of cereals and breads unless she has had a problem with oat, rye or barley grains.

If her doctor isn't concerned, then I would definitely say "relax" as he is also looking at her physical health.

If you would like to check out a kid calculator that I am still testing and are willing to keep the web address confidential for your daughter's use only, please reply.

Here are the URLs for the World Health Organization growth charts.

As to weight gain for the next pregnancy, check it out yourself with the Healthy Body Calculator as it works for pregnant women also. It will take your pre-pregnant weight into consideration and add the appropriate amount. A 25 - 30 pound weight gain is fine for normal weight women which you are.

Have fun with your new baby as they are a joy who grow up too fast.


I am taking a nutrition class via the internet. I am required to post two Internet questions for my class.

  1. I have a daughter who will be two in August and she still takes a bottle. I would like to know if you have any suggestions on how to break this habit from her. Also she drinks almost a gallon of whole milk every day?


  2. I would also like to know if her drinking all of this milk could be causing her to be constipated?

  1. Start replacing one bottle every few days with a glass half filled with milk. Also limit your daughter's milk drinking to meals and snacks with no bottles when she goes to bed to prevent cavities. Weaning starts at approximately 4 to 6 months of age when solids like cereal are added to a breast milk or formula only infant food plan. Weaning continues up to 2 years of age when a child consumes a mature eating plan from a range of adult foods some self-selected, the rest provided by parents and care givers.


  2. Milk does not cause constipation. However, the volume of milk your daughter is drinking is preventing her from eating foods with fiber that would help prevent constipation. Also, she needs to have good sources of iron to support her hemoglobin in her expanding blood volume as she grows.


My friend's one year old has constipation problems and has been put on a high fiber diet by her doctor. She is having difficulty getting the baby to eat raw vegetables. She doesn't like to chew things that are too hard. Do you have any ideas for things she might like to eat?

If the infant is on formula, that may be contributing. Either switch the infant to whole milk if there is no milk allergy or add 1 - 2 tsp of dark Kayro syrup to every 8 ounces of formula.

Toddlers don't like raw vegetables because they don't have molar teeth to grind raw vegetables. They usually only have front teeth to bite with. Foods like cooked oatmeal or oat based cereals (Cheerios) contain pectin (soluble fiber) which holds more water in stool. Whole wheat bread and crackers, cooked vegetables and canned fruits or juice will add fiber to the toddler's diet. Cooked vegetables have as much fiber (insoluble) as the fresh version. Insoluble fiber is not destroyed by cooking.

Canned pears have more fiber than a fresh apple including the peel. Other canned fruits are lower in fiber content than fresh because the peel has been discarded in most canned fruits other than canned plums (pitted).

Be careful to not overdo the fiber content of the baby's diet though. Would also recommend for the time avoiding gas forming vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and baked beans even in the cooked form. These foods should be reintroduced into the baby's diet once the constipation has been resolved.

Avoid constipating foods like rice (cooked or cereal), bananas, apple juice, applesauce or tea. These are the foods we feed children with diarrhea as they are constipating. Reintroduce these foods into the baby's diet after the constipation has been resolved. Do not omit these foods forever.

Also, make sure to provide the baby with enough water in addition to formula or milk. The amount of fluid recommended for babies starting at 22 pounds is 1.5 ounces of fluid per pound of body weight per day or 1 cup of fluid for every 5.5 pounds of body weight up to 44 pounds of body weight. So take the baby's weight and divide by 5.5 to get the number of cups of fluid per day. For children over 44 pounds provide 8 cups of fluid per day. The total amount of fluid should include formula or milk that the baby drinks as well as fruit juices and water.


I was wondering how to figure the proper calorie intake for my son. He is 5 months old and last week our doctor gave us a formula for figuring the amount of calories he needs for his height, weight etc. What is this formula?

Have you tried my Healthy Kid Calculator®? If you would send your son's length and weight and approximate wake and sleep hours, I will provide you the calorie amount for a 5 month old. However, this amount will increase each month as he gets older. So this calorie amount would only be a snapshot for a 5 month old. It would not be enough for a 6 month old.

The focus is not just calories for infants, but rather to provide adequate food (breast milk or formula) to support increases in length and weight and head circumference which show growth. Generally babies will eat until they are full and stop. So I would recommend feeding your 5 month old at least 3 meals and 3 - 4 bottles (8 ounce) during the day. Babies only need 1 or 2 Tbsp of food at a meal though.

Generally speaking breast milk or formula are sufficient for the first 4 - 6 months of life. Usually 1 quart of milk or formula per day is adequate, but this does vary from infant to infant. Solids like pablum and fruit are started around 4 - 6 months of age, vegetables around 6 - 7 months and egg yolks or meat around 8 - 9 months. Recent recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics has delayed the introduction of solid food to about 6 months of age, but this guideline is for an average infant and should not be generalized for every infant. Some low birth weight infants need more food sooner to catch up their weight.

If this is your first child, perhaps it would be helpful to talk to a Registered Dietitian about what to feed your baby for optimal brain and physical development. Babies are tough to figure out because they don't come with a manual or instruction booklet and each baby is different with regards to their nutrition needs.


I have a 2 1/2 month old baby girl. She is gaining weight normally (I have a 2 year old girl to compare with). Our 2 year old suffered from what we believed at the time to be colic. She would cry each night between 6:00 to 9:00 P.M.. This started when she was 5 weeks old and lasted till she was 4 months old. She was a real fussy baby up until she was about a year old. The newborn was going in the same direction as the toddler and we felt that we just had to live with it. The baby is on the same formula that the toddler was on (Enfalac without iron), We assumed that the iron may be a contributing factor to the crying. We have now determined that she may be milk protein intolerant (according to a pamphlet sent out by Enfalac). The symptoms are gas, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and a rash. The toddler suffered from all but the rash. The baby was doing the same. We have now changed her formula to Enfalac's Prosoybee Soya based formula. Everything was going good for the first 3 weeks, but she is now back to some of her old tricks. She seems to be having a very hard time passing gas and having bowel movements. She has bouts of screaming for maybe a half hour or so. We had talked to my doctor about the toddlers crying when she was doing it and the doctor didn't have a clue. I was wondering if there may be something in the formulas that may be causing her this discomfort. The toddler has grown out of her crying and I'm sure that the baby will eventually do the same, but for all of the family, it sure would be nice if we could get this figured out before she grows out of it which may not be till she's a year old like the toddler did. Thank you.

Symptoms on regular iron fortified formula do sound like an allergy to milk protein. She sounds very uncomfortable. Your switch of formulas makes sense.

Are your infant girl's stools constipated? Constipated stool looks like round balls of stool stuck together. Unfortunately, iron can be constipating, but infants need a supplemental source of iron as the blood cells they were born with will need to be replaced every 120 days the same as the blood in your body.

If you suspect constipation, try this remedy a public health nurse suggested to me. Add 1 - 2 tsp of dark Karo syrup to each bottle of formula. You should find Karo syrup in your grocery store in the baking section. Seems to help constipation in babies. You didn't say how much formula your infant was taking per day, but it should be around 1 quart per day or four 8 ounce bottles.

Also remember to burp your infant during or at least after a feeding. Gas can result from swallowed air, gas causing foods or constipation.

What changed for your older daughter when she turned 1 year and became less fussy? Did you stop the regular formula? Did you switch to cow's milk?


We have a twenty-eight month old son who has been small all his life. He was born at 7 lb., 9 oz. and began falling off the growth chart at approximately 3 months. He breast fed for the first year with solids introduced at 4 months. He currently weighs 21 lb., 4 oz..

He has a small appetite and frequently skips meals. He is offered regular meals and snacks. We are at a loss as to how to encourage his eating and weight gain. He is active, alert and is developing normally. Endocrine and genetic testing have revealed normal results. Any advice you can give us would be a great help. Thanks.

Your son was about average weight when he was born. Since now he weighs less than the 5th percentile for a twenty-eight month old, he can't afford to skip meals or snacks. I would suggest offering small meals more frequently, every few hours. Serve more of his favorite foods even if the variety of foods he eats is limited until his appetite improves. In fact, add butter or gravy to his food to increase calories. He needs to eat more calorie dense foods, not low fat foods. If he drinks milk, give him whole rather than low fat milk. Ice cream rather than frozen yogurt.

Children at his age often become picky eaters who refuse all but a few favorites like cheese, hot dogs or peanut butter. Also, most kids growth slows down at this age along with their appetite. I would suggest making an appointment to see a Registered Dietitian who can review your son's medical chart and food intake in order to make more specific suggestions. The plus is you have a son who is energetic and developing normally.

Height / weight tables for newborns to 2 year olds used by doctors and dietitians were developed from a single community of Ohio Caucasian, bottle fed babies between 1929 and 1975 who came from families of similar socioeconomic backgrounds. These babies were not measured often enough (every 3 months) yet their data is used to measure every US infant. New data is in the process of being collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, but will still reflect mostly bottle fed infants because few women breast feed for 12 or even 24 months. On the other hand, if growth charts were based on breast fed infants, bottle fed infants would be misdiagnosed as overweight. Weight loss is not recommended in children or infants because it would negatively impact brain development. The World Health Organization infant growth charts contain weight gains more typical of breast fed infants, but WHO growth charts are not used in the United States.

Though they tend to have rounder more developed cheek muscles developed from sucking, breast fed infants gain weight at a slower rate than bottle fed infants especially after 6 months of age. Breast fed infants weight for height may be 60% below the average (50th percentile) found on commonly used infant growth charts. Their fat stores may be 60% below the average. Breast fed infants tend to be leaner than formula fed infants from 9 to 15 months of age. This is believed to be due to a lower calorie and protein intake by breast fed infants.

It appears that infant's regulate how much breast milk they drink rather than the cause being an inadequate milk production by the mother. The lower calorie intake and weight gain of breast fed infants is not related to their development, activity or illness either. Breast fed infants calorie intake is usually below the recommended amounts even in optimal environments and even with the addition of solid foods. A mother's BMI (estimate of percent body fat) appears to determine the mother's breast milk fat content, but infants seem to compensate for varying amounts of breast milk fat by altering the amount they drink. The amount of calories a breast fed infant consumes is not related to the age that solid foods are introduced as long as the infant continues to breast feed. So your baby's weight may be a factor of breastfeeding especially since your doctor has not found any genetic or hormonal (endocrine) abnormality.

Lastly, breast fed infants rate of increases in length and head circumference though does not differ between breast and formula fed infants from 3 to 12 months of age.

There are many positive effects that breast fed infants enjoy. They are less likely to get diarrhea and ear infections. For the mom, breastfeeding improves her weight loss if she continues to breast feed longer than 6 months and she is less likely to start menstruating again. Though resumption of a normal period also is related to the maternal fat stores as indicated by BMI.

The only risk of nutritional deficiency in breast fed infants during the first 6 months of life are iron (a factor of birth weight and iron drops after 2 - 3 months), vitamin D, (depends on baby's exposure to direct sunlight and maternal intake), Vitamin B 12 (only concern if mother is a veg*an or has malabsorption of Vitamin B 12).

Without your son's length, I cannot tell much about his growth pattern because in children, weight relates not only to age, but also height (length in infants). What a baby eats after birth and illnesses as well as the parent's height appear to affect infant length gain most. Small for height parents would more likely to have small for height infants and toddlers. But, your son's current weight is below the 5th percentile for age (i.e. only 5% of children weigh less than this value) irrelative of his length. He should weigh 24 pounds (5th percentile) at least at 28 months. So try my suggestions at the beginning and monitor his weight on at least a bi-monthly basis. Keep his doctor informed of his weight.


Please could you tell me if you have heard anything about steroids in the formula "Similac"? I keep hearing this, but cannot find much verifiable information one way or the other.

There is no information that confirmed the presence of steroids in the formula Similac. Similac does contain vitamin D, which is sometimes considered a hormone because of its action on tissues.

Vitamin D is synthesized in the body from sun exposure or consumed in fortified food products such as milk. Usually babies don't synthesize enough vitamin D from sunlight because of their limited sun exposure, so it is important that Similac contains vitamin D.


I have a 12-month-old daughter. She was 6 weeks premature and weighed 5 lb. 8oz. She has been very healthy her first year and had good weight gain the first 6 months. The second 6 months she has only gained 2 1/2 pounds. At her one year check up she weighed 18 lbs. 13 oz. and is 29 1/2 inches tall.

Her pediatrician is very concerned that she is not growing. He has requested that I give her an antihistamine every night before bed to increase her appetite. He also indicated that it would help her sleep better. He wants to try this for 3 months and see how her weight gain is. I am very reluctant to give her medication for this. She eats very well and is very active. I'm not sure what I should do from here. Do you have any suggestions?

Your daughter is average for height and average for weight though she is at the low end of the weight range for her age. A healthy weight range for her is 18-23 pounds. Her BMI (body fat estimate) is 16 with a normal range of 15 - 19 for 12-month-old female.

Each child follows their own growth curve. Some children grow in spurts and some grow at a constant rate. I would suggest you ask her doctor for a height - weight chart so that you can plot out her weight and height gain since birth. If your daughter's height and weight start to flatten out for 3 months, then I would suggest some intervention. But if her height and weight continue to increase, then she is growing, but the rate of growth still needs to be assessed against the norms for her age.

You did not state how much antihistamine your daughter's doctor prescribed. I would ask for a specific prescription, even if the antihistamine is an over the counter medication. I would suggest you talk to her doctor and tell him you are reluctant to give your daughter pills. It is true however, that antihistamines do cause sleepiness, but have other side effects such as drying nasal passages and mouth.

I would recommend you see a Registered Dietitian who can assess your daughter's food intake and make specific recommendations. A dietitian could also plot out your daughter's weight and height to evaluate her growth pattern. For instance, she should drink whole milk rather than low fat milk and you can feed her more often. Toddlers need at least 6 small meals per day, but still don't need that many calories. I estimated that your daughter's basal energy needs (without any activity included) to be about 520 calories, 17 grams fat, 16 grams protein and 72 grams carbohydrate per day. This is the amount of calories your daughter would need lying flat in bed. I didn't include her activity level as you did not provide it and her activity could double this basal calorie level. Generally, children need about 1000 calories by 12 months of age. So use this as a guideline for how much food your daughter should be eating.

You could also talk to a dietitian about her sleep and activity habits for some recommendations. Though most toddlers don't need planned "exercise" programs as they seem to be active enough on their own.


My baby is almost 10 months. She went in for her 9-month checkup and the doctor asked what she was eating now. I said that she is eating stage 2 baby food plus her formula (Alsoy). The doctor said not to start meat until the baby is a year old. Can you help me understand why?

My daughter is 19.5 lbs. and 29". My side of the family tends to be very large and I am desperately trying to avoid that in my daughter without going to extremes.

Thank you.

Using 10-month height and weight norms for girls, your daughter is average for height and weight. The biggest concern I have for infants and children are that their height and weight continues to increase over time. If her weight increases more than her height, she can maintain her weight until she grows into her height. This is the best preventive to becoming an overweight adult.

Usually meat is started somewhere between 9 and 12 months of age. Your daughter's doctor recommended the upper age to start meats. The primary concern for starting meat is that it is a good source of iron and iron deficiency anemia is the primary nutritional deficiency in infants and children. By age one, she should be consuming about 2 servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and eggs group per day. One serving would consist of about 1 ounce or 1-2 Tbsp. of any of these.

By nine months of age, your daughter's diet should consist mainly of solid foods. She should not consume more than about 25 ounces of iron -fortified formula after 6 months of age. Iron fortified formula is preferred until she starts to eat meat to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. It typically occurs in older infants who consume few solid foods and whose diets have large amounts of cow's milk and no meat.

FYI: The following tables were developed by Joanne Kendrick MS RD, nutritionist with the St. Paul Ramsey County Nutrition Program, Minnesota. The tables contain weight gain and length / height growth for infants. These tables continue in the Children topic and Teens topic.

The increases in weight and height percentiles were transferred from the 1976 growth charts of the National Center for Health Statistics, NDHS Growth Charts, which are the latest available as of February 1996. The data was created by the NCHS in cooperation with the Center for Disease Control and are based on data from the Fels Research Institute, Yellow Springs, Ohio. These data are appropriate for infants, children and teenagers in the general United States population.

Weight and height should be within 2 percentile rankings of each other. Percentile rankings are figured at 95th, 90th, 75th, 50th, 25th, 10th and 5th. This means that at the 95th percentile, the infant is heavier or taller than 95% of other infants the same age.

Growth curves should not rise or drop 2 percentile rankings over 6 months as this would indicate a change in growth pattern (i.e. becoming short and heavy or tall and underweight). For instance, if an infant's birth weight is in the 95th percentile for weight, then at 6 months, his/her weight should not be below the 75th percentile. Also, there should be a correlation between height and weight as well. For instance, if an infant's height is at the 75th percentile, this infant's weight should not be below the 25th percentile or above the 95th. FYI, height measured lying down is larger than height measured standing up due to compression of the vertebrae.

The tables intended use is for parents to assist them in determining whether their infant's weight and height are following a "normal" growth pattern using the infant's own birth weight and length as a baseline. For instance, if a female infant's birth weight and length were in the 50th percentile (average for age) then in the first 6 months, that infant should gain 9 1/2 pounds and 6 1/4 inches in length. If the female infant was in the 5th percentile (small for age) at birth, then in the first 6 months, the infant should gain 7 1/2 pounds and 6 3/8 inches in length.

GIRLS 0 - 36 MONTHS IN POUNDS

Age in MonthsGain per 6 months in Pounds
95th50th5th
0 to 610 1/29 1/27 1/2
6 to 125 1/25 1/44 1/2
12 to 183 1/22 3/42 1/4
18 to 2432 1/22
24 to 302 3/42 1/42
30 to 362 1/221 3/4



GIRLS 0 TO 36 MONTHS IN INCHES

Age in MonthsGrowth in 6 months in inches
95th50th5th
0 to 6 6 3/46 1/46 3/8
6 to 123 1/23 1/43 1/4
12 TO 182 3/42 1/22 1/2
18 TO 242 3/82 1/42
24 TO 30221 3/4
30 TO 361 5/81 1/21 3/4



BOYS 0 - 36 MONTHS IN POUNDS

Age in MonthsGain per 6 months in Pounds
95th50th5th
0 to 611 1/4108
6 to 125 1/255
12 to 183 1/432 1/2
18 TO 243 1/42 1/22 1/4
24 to 302 3/42 1/22
30 to 362 3/42 1/41 3/4



BOYS 0 TO 36 MONTHS IN INCHES

Age in MonthsGrowth in 6 months in inches
95th50th5th
0 to 6 76 3/46 1/4
6 to 123 3/83 1/43 1/4
12 TO 182 3/42 1/22 1/4
18 TO 242 1/42 1/82 1/8
24 TO 301 7/81 7/81 3/4
30 TO 361 3/41 5/81 5/8




My baby has just turned 3 months and is eating 2 - 8 oz. bottles of formula every 3.5 to 4 hours. He is growing like a weed - he's not very fat, just big and strong. My pediatrician said that he should eat as much and as often as he would like. I was wondering when babies start eating things like cereal (rice), etc. Would it be better if he ate a little cereal and formula?

Based on above amounts of formula, your son is drinking about 96 ounces of formula per day. Infant formula is designed to provide all the nutrients a growing baby needs. You can choose iron-fortified formula as well.

Babies are usually started on solids like cereal when they can sit up unassisted around 4 months of age. Swallowing starts around 4 months of age as well. The other physical development necessary is the ability of babies use their tongue to move food from the front to the back of their mouth which happens about 6 months of age. Prior to that babies suck their food (formula or breast milk).

Your son is a little young to start on cereal, but the volume of formula he is drinking is more than what infants his age would usually drink (about 25 to 40 ounces per day). Are you diluting it according to the package directions?

You may start cereal made with formula for your son. During feeding with a small spoon, make sure you support him in an upright position so those problems with choking are lessened. Start with one feeding of 1 tablespoon of dry infant rice cereal, thinned with enough warmed formula to form a thin consistency. Rice based foods rarely causes allergic reactions. Use a small baby spoon rather than a bottle with a larger nipple hole. At the same time, your baby will probably reduce his intake of formula per feeding.

Your baby's doctor is suggesting a feeding on demand schedule, which allows the baby to say when he is hungry and how hungry. This is opposite to a set schedule where there are set feeding times (like every 4 hours) with a set amount of formula. This set schedule doesn't allow for differences between infants individual needs and can lead to overfeeding.

I would suggest you read "Child of Mine - Feeding with love and good sense" by Ellyn Satter RD.


I have a seven-month-old son who has been eating cereal since he was about four months. Vegetables and fruit juice (apple only) since he was about five months all based on doctor's advice. He is in the 95th percentile in both weight and height so his size is not a question, but he still doesn't have teeth.

At his six-month doctor visit his pediatrician told me I could start increasing his diet, introducing meats (baby food form), etc. She even said that he might not even want baby food by the time he is nine months old. I have not introduced many regular table foods. Really the only time he gets table food is when we are having something that we let him taste to get a reaction, such as mashed potatoes or a popsicle.

I bought some Gerber vegetable chicken and vegetable beef because I have heard from several people that the plain meats smell like dog food and their children gagged on them, but then I read one of your answers about feeding them single foods before mixed so I am not sure what is best.

My doctor's philosophy seems to be that he can have anything that he can handle without teeth. Is it too early to start meat and should I try the plain meats first? And what is the best way to start introducing table foods? I have considered purchasing a grinder of some sort that is sold to turn regular food into baby food, but then I am uncertain on how to know that the foods I am cooking are healthy enough for him.

I forgot to mention that my son is still being breast fed.

I know that it is difficult to know what to do since babies don't come with instruction manuals to read when you run into trouble.

Unfortunately, infants can't buy baby food. So parents taste baby food before feeding it to the infant and make the decision on what baby food to buy based on the parent's taste buds. Baby food companies previously added lots of salt and sugar to baby food to entice parent's taste buds. Your baby has an acute sense of sweet (due to a genetic preference to breast milk) and underdeveloped sense of bitter and sour. His food doesn't taste the same to him and if he spits it out it doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't like it. It may be a new texture he is not used to. Pureed meats are grainy in texture and often babies may spit them out initially.

My advice to start with single foods rather than a mixture is still recommended to prevent adverse food reactions caused by food allergies. If you feed your son a mixture and he gets a rash, diarrhea or vomits, you won't know what food caused the reaction. Only add 1 new food per day along with the other foods your baby has already tried and tolerated. Then you can mix the foods you know he has tolerated.

Meat is usually added around 9 months of age. Iron is an important nutrient that meat contains. Iron fortified pabulum (baby cereal), breast milk or iron fortified formula is a good iron source until babies start to eat meat. The main problem with iron fortified cereal and formula is that iron can be constipation, which isn't a lot fun for a baby or the parent.

Any of the national baby food brands are OK including Gerber, Heinz and BeechNut. You may also want to try Growing Healthy, which is fresh frozen baby food. Or try making your own baby food from the foods you cook by using a food processor or blender and then freezing small cookie dough quantities (2 ounces per serving) Plain mashed potatoes (without milk or butter) are "baby food.

The new foods that you have added to your son's diet seems appropriate at the ages you started various foods. Solids are added when an infant can sit up without assistance and ground table foods added when they have some teeth, which will be around 9 to 12 months of age. It's easy to tell when your baby doesn't want baby food anymore, he won't eat it and will want what you have.

A food grinder would be OK and the food you cook for your family would be appropriate for a baby. Your baby needs more calories per pound than you do. I would suggest you avoid low fat foods so that you provide your baby with the calories he needs.

Babies can eat meats, starches, fruits, vegetables and grains (cereal, rice and pasta). I'd suggest avoiding gas-forming foods (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage-baked beans) at first. Start with 1 tablespoon of a ground food. Foods that can cause choking are grapes or hot dogs. Cut these foods into smaller pieces if you suspect that it could become caught in your son's throat. Gradually increase the consistency of your son's food to the point where you are just cutting the food you eat into smaller pieces for him.

Some things to remember, avoid honey, chocolate and berries for the first 2 years of life. Avoid cow's milk for the first year of life. Unpasteurized honey contains bacteria (botulinum spores) that could kill a baby and cow's milk, chocolate and berries are highly allergic foods if fed too early. If you would like a good reference for feeding infants and children try "Child of Mine" by Ellyn Satter RD. If you are unsure, ask your pediatrician to recommend a dietitian for feeding tips.




I enjoyed your page and I particularly found the Ask the Dietitian section informative. However I have concern about the question on honey. You might want to consider adding a bit about not giving honey to infants (on pacifiers, bottle nipples etc.) as honey is rarely, if ever, sterilized and Clostridium Botulism spores may be present. It is not a problem for adults with healthy immune systems however it can be fatal to babies.

In regards to your answer about sugar free breath mints, mints with sugar can actually give you bad breath because the normal flora of the mouth LOVE the sugar and proliferate in the presence of it. Mints with NutraSweet do not provide a carbohydrate source and also induce salivation, which increases the pH of the mouth.

You are correct about honey. In fact most infant feeding brochures mention not to feed honey to infants unless sterilized. Since it would be difficult to know if the canning process temperature was hot enough to kill the bacteria, the most conservative approach is to not give honey to infants in any form.

Initially, honey was used as a substitute for sugar in making homemade infant formula, which also is not recommended. Commercial infant formulas are fortified to meet infant's nutritional needs and ironically most are formulated to mimic breast milk!

Your comment about sugar containing breath mints is also correct.


My pediatrician told use to try Isomil on our 4 month old boy. He is on the Prosobee Mead Johnson product now. My question is how different are these two products?

My kid has a problem with gas in the middle of the night, which wakes him up screaming from a deep sleep. What suggestions could you offer?? We have a very difficult time burping him. Right now he has breast milk about 6 or so times a day and has a bottle at lunch and one at 6 or so. He then has breast milk at 8 or so and generally goes down at about 9 or so. If we are lucky he generally will sleep until 3 am when he awakes screaming and then we hear him farting. He had this same general problem in his 4th month or so when he was exclusively breast fed. I appreciate any and all help. Thank you!!

Austin is 17 weeks 26 inches long and about 13 lb.

Both Isomil and Prosobee are soy based infant formulas commonly used with infants who have a milk protein or lactose intolerance or family history of milk allergy. Prosobee is iron fortified which is good because red blood cells live only 120 days and usually infants are still not eating iron rich foods like meat, green leafy vegetables and whole grains after 4 months of age. Unfortunately, iron fortified formulas can cause constipation which is unusual in breast fed infants. On the other hand, breast milk has highly absorbable iron and doesn't cause constipation, but has higher lactose content.

Sounds like Austin has colic. It is more unusual, but not unheard of in breast fed infants. Did your pediatrician suggest using a soy-based formula exclusively? It sounds like you may want to try just the soy formula for a few days and see if Austin's symptoms go away. In the meantime, the mother can pump and freeze her breast milk. (I know this isn't fun, but neither is waking up to a screaming infant who is distressed by this as well.) It could be that the high lactose content of breast milk is fermenting and causing the intestinal gas.

It may or may not be something in the mother's diet. Next try eliminating all caffeine containing and gas forming foods (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and onions), including beer while restarting breastfeeding and see if the infants colic improves.


I have a little guy that has had diarrhea for a few days. I brought him to the doctor and he didn't prescribe any medication. He's 16 months old and the doctor told me to give him clear liquids, applesauce and banana. What else can he have?

I would suggest you follow your doctor's advice about what to feed your toddler. If he didn't prescribe any medication, then you should not give any medicine.

As to what you can feed him, clear liquids are chicken or beef broth, plain gelatin, apple or cranberry juice and tea. The applesauce and banana should help jell your son's liquid stool. This is similar to the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, apples and toast or tea.

Your 16-month-old is probably as miserable as you with his messy diapers, but doesn't add any other foods until your doctor gives the OK. Diarrhea in children can be aggravated by many things, including teething, milk products, fatty foods, whole grains, chocolate, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits other than a peeled apple or a banana. I would suggest omitting these foods from his diet until about a week or two after the diarrhea is gone.

Diarrhea removes the helpful bacteria in your intestinal tract that aids in digestion. To replace those bacteria once his diarrhea has stopped, offer your toddler some banana or apple flavored yogurt (about four to six ounces daily), once a day for about four days. Make sure the yogurt is fresh, not canned and has active yogurt culture in it. Yogurt does have lactose in it, but because of the yogurt culture, doesn't seem to cause diarrhea.

If the diarrhea returns, put your son the diet your doctor prescribed and call your son's doctor again. Infants become dehydrated very quickly when they have diarrhea or vomit.


My granddaughter is six months old and my daughter is still just nursing her. The baby looks healthy, but shouldn't my daughter be feeding her cereal or something else?

No, breast milk or infant formula is sufficient for most babies as the sole source of nutrition for the first four to six months according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and current research. We have learned that by pushing food too soon, we make fat babies who in turn make fat adults.

Most babies are not started on solids such as cereal, strained juice or pureed fruit until four to six months of age. Pureed vegetables can be introduced at six to eight months and pureed meats and egg yolks at nine to 10 months. In addition, babies should be fed breast milk or formula for the first year of life. Your daughter can introduce cow's milk when her infant starts to drink from a cup, around 12 months of age.

We have learned that babies develop allergies to foods introduced too soon. They have an immature ability to produce the necessary enzymes to break down some foods such as egg white, cow's milk, berries or chocolate. These foods and others, which have skins or seeds, should not be fed to a infant up to twelve months of age.


Everything I read says that children do not need salt or sugar. I made all my own baby food, but now I am confused by some nutrition information on labels. How much sodium or sugar is too much? The labels give milligrams or grams and I don't know what it means.

I'm a mother with two young children, ages one and three. Since they were born, I have been more interested in eating the right foods.

Children do not need added salt or added sugar in their food. There is enough sodium and sugar in uncooked food for anyone, unless they are vomiting, have diarrhea or a fever.

One-fourth teaspoon of salt contains 533 milligrams of sodium. Children one to eighteen years of age need a minimum of 225 to 500 milligrams of sodium according to the 1989 Estimated Minimum Requirements. These amounts can be met by feeding children food cooked without added salt. The average adult needs only 2,400 milligrams of sodium or less per day. When reading a label for sodium content, limit your food purchases to foods containing less than 400 milligrams per serving.

With sugar, you will probably only find this value on dry cereals, canned fruit or dietetic foods as sucrose. One teaspoon of sugar contains four grams of sucrose. Choose cold cereals that have four grams of sucrose or less. If the cold cereal has fruit in it, like raisins or apples, allow up to eight or nine grams of sucrose per serving. Also, when your children eat cereal, don't put sugar on for them. In a recent survey I did in a local grocery store, the sugar coated cereals contained between 10 and 16 grams of sucrose which translates into two and one-half to four teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Canned fruit in fruit juice (15 grams of carbohydrate in one-half cup) is much lower than fruit canned in heavy syrup (28 grams of carbohydrate in one-half cup). The same amount of fresh fruit would contain 15 grams of carbohydrate. Calorie wise, the difference between the carbohydrate in juice pack and heavy syrup packed canned fruit is two and one-half teaspoons of sugar per one-half cup of fruit.

Don't mix combinations of food for infants until the infant has tried the food alone. For instance, try feeding peaches or pears before feeding fruit cocktail to your infant.

You can make your own baby food from plain foods that you cook for the rest of your family. Any fruit, vegetable, refined starch or meat are fine for infants over nine months of age and children. The consistency of an infant's food should match what he/she can handle. Usually, the presence of teeth will indicate whether an infant needs pureed or ground foods. Homemade baby food can be refrigerated for 24 hours or frozen for up to 30 days. You can make the baby food into frozen cubes or you can drop one large tablespoon-full on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the baby food is frozen. Then you can remove the frozen drops of baby food and store them in a plastic freezer bag. Remember to label the baby food with what food it is and the date.






Search Ask the Dietitian