Is Your Baby Ready for a Meal and Snack Schedule?
Is your baby interesting in solid food? Ready to start trying to have more consistent meal times?
The number one tip I have for you is to feed responsively.
This means paying attention to your little ones cues of when they are still hungry, when they want more food, and when they have decided that they are all done.
This may look like your baby grabbing the food and putting it in their mouth, leaning forward, opening their mouth, and then also signs of being all done like turning their head, spitting food out and being fussy.
This is a great sign of your child being ready for a set schedule of meals when they are ready for solids. Let me walk you through what a schedule might look like:
Before I do that though, just a disclaimer: As long as you are feeding you child – you are doing it right. There is not perfect day to start solids and a meal schedule for your child and every baby is different.
The number one thing we can do outside of responsively feeding them is sitting with them and eating.
Starting around 6 months of age sit with your baby for one meal a day.
(If you haven’t already, listen to my podcast episode on when your child may be ready to start solids – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-5-when-to-start-solids/id1506552983?i=1000472256303 – it is usually around the 6 month mark but it differs for all babies!)
Choose a meal that you have ample time, can be most consistent with, and most present for. One time a day you should offer your child solid food – weather that is baby led waning or purées.
Around 8-10 months I would recommend a second meal and going up to three times a day for solids. Do what works best for you and your family.
Around 12 months of age is where it’s ideal to offer 3 chances for solids a day.
12 months on is where you start that meal AND snack schedule:
3 meals and a snack schedule in between. The ideal is to offer solid food every 1.5-3 hours from 12 months on. No need to stop offering the breast if that’s your jam, but consider offering solids before nursing sessions to increase solid intake.
Disclaimer: if your child wants more than 1 meal at 6 months this is totally fine!
This would be a typical schedule (12m+) but remember every child is different:
Some children will want to explore food earlier, some won’t be interested at all and you’ll have to be consistent to continue to offer. There is not a perfect way to follow a schedule and we firmly believe in the 80/20 rule around here – be consistent 80% of the time but give yourself the grace to be a human as well!
Reminder: Consider a meal and snack routine verses a schedule. This is a little more flexible (not tied to clocks) and is a little more rhythmic. I find this works really well for families including ours.
The only difference is that meals and snacks are usually proceeded by and followed by the same activities or events every day. Ex: after nap is snack, after outside play is lunch, after school is snack, before bath is dinner etc etc.
Make the meal and snack schedule/routine/rhythm work for your family. Start by scheduling in the most important and immovable parts of your day and fit in the snacks and meals around that time. Ex: school is from 9-12pm or nap is from 1-3pm then meals and snacks will have to be put in between those times.
Hope this was helpful, mamas. Click the link below to listen to a full length podcast episode on your baby’s eating schedule & visit @nutrition.for.littles on instagram for daily tips!