by: Emma Aguirre

My daughter weighs over 16 lbs at five and a half months! I think most of that weight is in her cheeks honestly, and she’s tall for her age, according to the pediatrician, so I’m not worried. It sparked a conversation Tuesday at the new mommy’s group about how much these babies really should be eating. We all agreed – there is so much information out there that it’s hard to determine what will work for your baby.

Case in point, my pediatrician gave me a photocopied sheet from a leading baby food maker which suggested one quarter of a 2.5oz jar for three days, and then a whole jar on the fourth day (not to mention the attached coupons were out of date!). It seemed like a huge jump and didn’t really sit well with me. The entire program just didn’t sit well with me, and I ended up winging it and listening to my gut. I ended up giving her half of a jar to try at lunch for a few weeks and then eventually moved on to giving her the second half at dinner. After another few weeks, I started giving her a full jar and that’s where we’re at right now. She gets a full 2.5oz jar for lunch, another for dinner and now we’re at the point where we can switch between different produce. Currently, we’re strictly on fruits following the weekend’s constipation episode.

Another baby food maker suggests that by ‘sitter’ stage – which my daughter is not, she’s more ‘supported sitter’ – babies should be eating 24oz of formula or breast milk, three meals, plus two snacks per day. The formula or breast milk is broken up into six, four ounce bottles that the infant takes with a meal. For one of our new mommy’s, that just wasn’t realistic. If she gives her son formula with food, chances are he will drink the formula and leave the food she said, as he fills up too quickly, which another new mom agreed with. For her, it’s more important that her daughter take the food and she offers water to her seven month old.

Which raises the question of when we should start giving our babies water. I had read that six months was the earliest we should start giving water as they typically stay hydrated enough with the formula or breast milk. My pediatrician hasn’t mentioned it, but I think it’s an important issue considering we live in the blistering Houston heat at least six months out of the year. I have started giving my daughter water to taste with her meals in a sippy cup. About an hour after she eats lunch or dinner, she’s ready for formula and usually she takes a nap or goes to bed right after that. She doesn’t take much water yet, a couple of sips at most, but I want to get her used to drinking water with meals and liking the taste. She usually gets more on herself – thank goodness for the plastic bibs.

I’m generally following a schedule from yet another baby food maker which made sense to me. At four to six months, my daughter should have about six feedings a day consisting of four-to-five formula feedings of between six to eight ounces each which she does (for a maximum of 32oz a day. My daughter is hovering around 28oz.). A serving of cereal is also good at this point, which she has in her bedtime bottle. As for the fruits and vegetables, we should be aiming towards one four ounce jar per meal, so over the next couple of days I plan to up her intake. I know she won’t refuse it!

Between six and nine months, she should be taking four-to-six feedings a day, consisting of a total formula or breast milk intake of between 24 and 32oz per day. I can introduce foods with more texture and introduce combination foods, and can also try juice. At seven months, yogurt is acceptable, as well as poultry and meats.

I’ve always found that a full baby means a happy baby, and more often, a sleepy baby. This makes sense to ME. I like guidelines and I like specifics, especially when it comes to my daughter which is why my pediatrician’s handout didn’t cut it for me. I didn’t want to go back for her six month check up to find that my daughter had lost weight because I didn’t know what I was doing. As I’ve said before, this really is my first rodeo, so I need that guidance. You have to decide what works for you and your family and what fits into your routine.