Pediatric Nutrition

Feeding your baby (birth to 4 months)

UW Health's Pediatric Nutrition program in Madison, Wisconsin, features registered dietitians to educate and counsel children and parents and equip them with the tools they need for a healthier lifestyle.

Healthful eating habits start at birth. The best form of nutrition for an infant is breast milk. However, for many parents this is not a possibility, and there are a host of infant formulas to nourish your baby.

Sample Feeding Plan

The only foods appropriate for infants 0-4 months are breast milk or infant formula.

  • Baby-led schedules tend to be unstructured routines where the parents follow the infant’s lead. The parent’s role is to monitor the baby’s cues for feeding, sleep and play.

  • Parent-led feeding patterns are structured routines, where the parent or caregiver instills a schedule for eating, sleeping and play.

  • Combination feeding routines maintain a flexible parent-led schedule. The parent designs a schedule for eating, sleeping and play but monitors the infant’s cues and adapts the schedule to their needs and desires. For example, a nap may be pushed back to accommodate extended play.

Feeding Frequency

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends eight to 12 feedings in a 24-hour period for the first month. The general recommendation is about every two hours, but every infant is different. Some newborns feed every 90 minutes while others will go three hours. Newborns should not go more than four hours without feeding, even overnight. As the infant ages and are able to accommodate more food at one time, their feedings may stretch to every two to four hours.

Signs your infant is hungry

  • Roots or Turns head towards bottle or breast and opens mouth

  • Sucks on hands or fingers

  • Cries or gets more fussy

  • Clinched fists

  • Moves or smacks lips

Signs your infant is satisfied

  • Turns head away from bottle or breast

  • Becomes disinterested

  • Falls asleep

  • Relaxed hands

  • Slows down, or only takes a few sucks at a time


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