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Pediatric
Evidence Based
An image of the Author and Top Nutrition Coaching nutritionist, Nicolette
Sarah Keathley MS, RD, LD

Nurturing Growth: A Comprehensive Guide to Baby Milestones and Nutrition in the First Year

Discover the key baby milestones and nutrition guidance for the first year of your child's life. Learn when to introduce solids, track developmental milestones, and recognize red flags for potential concerns. Expert insights help you navigate this exciting journey while ensuring your baby's healthy growth and development. Don't miss out on essential tips and support from pediatric experts
An image of the Author and Top Nutrition Coaching nutritionist, Nicolette
Sarah Keathley MS, RD, LD

Nurturing Growth: A Comprehensive Guide to Baby Milestones and Nutrition in the First Year

Discover the key baby milestones and nutrition guidance for the first year of your child's life. Learn when to introduce solids, track developmental milestones, and recognize red flags for potential concerns. Expert insights help you navigate this exciting journey while ensuring your baby's healthy growth and development. Don't miss out on essential tips and support from pediatric experts
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As a parent, it may feel impossible to know what to do at every developmental milestone for your child and their nutrition. Are they getting enough to eat in order to grow? When do they eat solids? When do I introduce water? The questions are endless and sometimes the answers can be conflicting. Whether you are a new parent or an experienced one, every parent needs a little help from an expert in the right field! 

Together, we will merge nutrition and your baby's milestones to help you know exactly how to navigate the first twelve months of life. 

Understanding Baby Developmental Milestones

The first real smile, when your baby rolls over, and when they wave bye bye for the first time, these are all not just special moments but also considered developmental milestones for your child. 

The 4 growth stages we measure in milestones:

  1. social/emotional
  2. language/communication skills
  3. cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
  4. movement/physical development

Milestones are markers that help parents make sure our children are maturing at an appropriate rate. It opens the door to get help and support as early as possible, if it is needed. 

Although baby’s milestones are a wonderful tool to help provide parents with support, these are an estimated expectation for a baby's achievement, in other words it is a best guess, based on research. All children learn differently and may take slightly longer or may develop faster. 

Adjustments in Milestones Tracking

Now let’s talk about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) milestone guidelines. What’s important for you as a parent to know? 

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published guidelines in February of 2022 that help us assess where our child may be meeting or possibly lacking, in hitting developmental milestones.  
  • The guidelines were adjusted in 2022, where we can now see age ranges listed that reflect when most children (specifically around 75%) “typically” meet the milestone. 
  • The changes to the guidelines allow parents to detect possible concerns earlier on in a child’s life and seek help from their pediatrician for further screenings.

Month-by-Month Baby Milestones

1 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

At the newborn stage and up to one month of age, an infant may not seem to achieve much development but in reality many things are changing in your little one. Your infant is beginning to prefer your face (human faces) over random objects. They can see objects further away (around 8-12 inches), have better hand control, and head movement is improving daily. 

Nutrition for a 1 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

4 ounces every 2-4 hours, 6-8 times per day

Breastfeeding:

Every 3-4 hours; contentment is measured by the baby moving away from feeding at the breast or falling asleep. If you are concerned your infant may not be getting enough  breastmilk, track wet diapers. After the first week of life, look for ~6 wet diapers per day or more

Solids:

Not recommended until at least 4-6 months of age

Water:

Not recommended until 6 months of age

Every single baby is unique and special, this includes growth and the rate at which it is done. Your pediatrician will be tracking your baby's on their own growth curve chart to make sure they grow at a healthy rate! 

2 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

Now that we are past the 1 month mark, we are able to really start keeping track of 2 month milestones. At this age, the ability to track an object for an infant becomes a prominent development. The first signs of a real smile will likely appear. Baby should have the ability to be soothed and is holding their head up on their own more often. Babies will now use occasional sucking and smacking of their lips in addition to their typical hunger cues of crying and grunting for feed times. 

Knowing how and when to recognize when an infant achieves these milestones is vital for us to be able to spot any possible delays in order to relay this information to the pediatrician. 

Nutrition for 2 Month Old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

4-5 ounces every 2-4 hours, 6-8 times per day

Breastfeeding:

Every 3-4 hours until baby is content. Growth is also tracked by the pediatrician

3 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

As a 3 month old, your newborn is considered an infant. Baby will now smile to your voice, recognizing who you are and the comfort you bring to them. They have better head, body, and hand control. 

Nutrition for a 3 month old:

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk

4-6 ounces every 2-4 hours, 6-8 times per day

Breastfeeding

Every 3-4 hours; you may notice baby feeding faster, making for a shorter feed time. Look for a soft breast after feeds and overall post-feed contentment from your infant

4 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

At 4 months of age you will likely begin to hear your infants first chuckle (not quite a full laugh), see them push up on elbows during tummy time, and hold their own head up without support. 

Nutrition for a 4 month old:

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk

4-6 ounces every 4 hours

Breastfeeding

Every 3-4 hours; shorter feeds due to baby's efficiency. Look for a soft breast and content baby (infant pulling away from the breast or asleep at the end of feed) as a sign of fullness.

Solids

Only introduced if discussed in detail with your pediatrician and approved. 

  • Start with a very soft food, like avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, or single grain baby cereals. 
  • Offer only 1-2 ounces at a sitting, no more than 3 times per day. 
  • Do not force baby to eat 
  • Introduce one new food at a time, every 3-5 days, allowing you to screen for potential food allergies.

5 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

Currently, your little one is working hard to build a strong foundation. You will likely hear baby babbling frequently. They are developing the “stranger danger” mentality and are even able to entertain themselves with independent play for short periods of time. 

Teething can happen as early as 4-5 months. It may affect how infants feed, so keep this in mind if you see a change in eating patterns during this age.

Nutrition for a 5 Month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk

4-6 ounces every 3-4 hours, 4-6 times per day

Breastfeeding

Every 3-4 hours until the baby is content and the breast is soft

Solids

1-3 ounces, 3 times per day

6 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

Babies are now expected to roll over easily. Your little one may even have a favorite toy, grabbing it on their own, able to hold it and pass it from one hand to the other. Communication has increased significantly and vowel sounds are popular right now. 

Nutrition for a 6 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

6-8 ounce, 6 times per day

Breastfeeding:

Every 3-4 hours until the baby is content and the breast is soft

Solids:

Now is the time to start solid foods, if you have not already introduced them. Offer 1-3 ounces of finger food, 3 times per day

Ideas for solid foods to introduce first:

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Brown rice cereal
  • Oatmeal baby cereal
  • Pear
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash

Water:

Water is okay at this point but should not take the place of breastmilk or formula. Limit to 4-8 ounces per day

Baby-Led Weaning Approach

This method allows babies to discover foods in a more independent way while still under close supervision. Finger foods are placed in front of mouth of the infant which they can feed themselves at their own pace. Serve in bite-size pieces they can safely chew (or rather gum) and digest.

Food examples:

  • Steamed veggies, such as broccoli, potatoes and green beans
  • Finely chopped strawberries, soft peaches and ultra-ripe pears
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Small pieces of soft cheese
  • Soft easy-to-grasp foods, such as a sweet potato fry

If you have more questions about this style of feeding, reaching out to a dietitian who specializes in pediatrics is a great idea! 

7 Month Old Baby Developmental Milestones

Baby is now able to sit up with minimal support and grab objects around them with ease. Everything is seen in full color now, making it easier for them to recognize familiar and new things. Sound processing has fully developed, allowing them to better hear the world around them. 

Nutrition for a 7 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

6-8 ounce, 4-6 times per day

Breastfeeding:

Every 3-4 hours until the baby is content and the breast is soft

Solids:

4-6 ounces, 3 times per day

Water:

4-8 ounces per day

Foods to Avoid:

  • Honey (raw or cooked)
  • Unpasteurized foods (juices, milk, yogurt, or cheeses) 
  • Cow’s Milk 

8 Month Old Developmental Milestones

The main focus is currently on sitting, crawling, scooting, picking up items, and more. Keep in mind that every baby is different, for some crawling looks instead like scooting, and for others they may skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking. It can vary, so it’s important to not compare but instead measure the progress of your own child. 

 

Nutrition for an 8 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

6-8 ounce, 4-6 times per day, aiming for 24-25 ounces daily

Breastfeeding:

Every 3-4 hours until the baby is content and the breast is soft. Around 4-6 times per day

Solids:

6-8 ounces 3 times per day in addition to 2 snacks per day of around 2 ounces

  • Baby should be eating a wide variety of foods from different food groups.
  • These include infant cereals, meat or other proteins,  fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts, cheeses, and more. 

Water:

4-8 ounces per day 

9 Month Old Developmental Milestones

Baby is also working on developing words and you should likely hear sounds like “mama”, “dada”, and “baba”. At this point your infant may be working on multiple teeth! Finger foods should be offered as they allow utilization of the pincer grasp. Provide safely cut up and appropriate soft foods at meal and snack times. 

Nutrition for a 9 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

6-8 ounce, 6 times per day, aiming for 24-32 ounces daily

Breastfeeding:

Every 3-4 hours until the baby is content and the breast is soft. Around 4-6 times per day

Solids:

6-8 ounces 3 times per day in addition to 2 snacks per day of around 2 ounces

Water:

4-8 ounces per day 

10 Month Old Developmental Milestones

At this stage in your baby's development, they are eating more solid foods, so you may see a dip in their formula or breastfeeding intake. Babies are likely able to stand upright at this point by using items to pull themselves up into a standing position They are able to feed themselves at meal times fairly well with minimal assistance. 

Nutrition for a 10 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

6-8 ounce, 4-5 times per day

Breastfeeding:

3-5 times per day, on demand, until baby is content

Solids:

3 meals and 2 snacks per day

Water:

4-8 ounces per day 

11 Month Old Developmental Milestones

Babies can recognize objects and familiar faces and will point. They are likely moving around by either crawling, scooting, pulling to a stand, or even taking a few steps.  Communication is growing daily and their comprehension of phrases and simple commands is now developing.

Nutrition for an 11 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk

6-8 ounce, 3-5 times per day

Breastfeeding:

Around 3-5 times per day

Solids:

3 meals and 2 snacks per day

Water:

4-8 ounces per day (offer now in a sippy cup to to ease transition from bottle and/or breast)

12 Month Old Developmental Milestones

Your baby is now officially a toddler! By their first birthday they have likely tripled their weight and may have even grown close to 10 inches over the last year since birth. They can play games, like pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo, with you easily. Most babies have 2-3 words in their vocabulary. Walking may even be on the horizon, if your little one has not already mastered this milestone. 

Nutrition for a 12 month old: 

Formula and Pumped Breast Milk:

can now begin introduction to Cow’s Milk

8 ounces at meal times or 2-3 times per day; 

Transition to whole milk, start by slowly introducing (think ½ formula and ½ whole milk offered to start then gradually transition to solely whole milk)

Breastfeeding:

Around 3-5 times per day, listening to toddler’s hunger cues

Solids:

3 meals and 2 snacks per day

Water

8-32 ounces per day; based off toddlers cues 

Developmental Disabilities and When to Be Concerned:


Concerns about your child's developmental milestones should arise if you notice significant delays or regressions in their progress. While every child develops at their own pace, there are certain red flags that might indicate a potential developmental disability. If your baby consistently fails to achieve milestones within the typical age range, if they lose previously attained skills, or if they exhibit unusual behaviors such as persistent lack of eye contact, limited responsiveness to sounds or voices, difficulty feeding, or extreme irritability, it's important to consult with your pediatrician.

Early intervention is crucial in addressing developmental delays or disabilities, as it allows for timely support and therapies that can significantly improve outcomes for your child. Trust your instincts as a parent, and don't hesitate to seek professional guidance if you have concerns about your child's development.


Developmental Milestone and Typical Age of Achievement

Smiling

2-4 months

Laughing

4-6 months

Rolling Over

4-6 months

Crawling

7-12 months

Seeing in Full Color

5-7 months

Talking

12-18 months

Walking

12-15 months 

As you navigate this journey with your little one, if you feel like you need additional nutrition support, seek out help from a pediatric dietitian. They can help you find the best approach to support your child’s nutrition and growth using their extensive training. 

Every infant has a unique and special growth journey ahead of them from birth until the first year. It is exciting and wonderful to witness how much they progress in such a short amount of time. Congratulations to making it through the first year of milestones! 

Written by
An image of the Author and Top Nutrition Coaching nutritionist, Nicolette
Sarah Keathley MS, RD, LD
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