How Often and How Much to Feed and Breastfeed Your 8 to 12 Month Old

Sample Meal Plan and Guidelines for the Addition of New Foods

breastfeeding 8-12 month old

Verywell / Ellen Lindner 

By the time your baby is 8 months old, they should be eating cereal, fruits, and vegetables. At this age, they may even be learning to grab finger foods and drink from a cup.

Babies between the ages of 8 and 12 months usually have three meals a day plus a few snacks. Breast milk or infant formula (if you're not breastfeeding or using breast milk) should continue to be a regular part of your child's daily diet.

Exclusive Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding continues to provide many health and developmental benefits to children well after 6 months of age. Therefore, many professional organizations recommend that breastfeeding continues beyond the first year.

After the first 4 to 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the continuation of breastfeeding along with the addition of complementary foods for a year or longer. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that breastfeeding continues for two years or longer.

Beyond the first 6 months or so, breast milk alone will not provide your baby with all the nutrition that they need to grow.

Exclusively breastfeeding for 8 months or longer can cause a child to become dangerously malnourished. In this case, a child may breastfeed constantly in an attempt to get the nutrition their diet lacks.

While breast milk is still important and continues to be beneficial after 6 months, it should become part of a more complete diet. Your child needs additional foods that contain vital nutrients such as iron, protein, and zinc.

Waiting to introduce solid foods can also make the transition more difficult. Try gradually adding new foods to your baby's diet starting between 4 and 6 months. This strategy will help ensure your child is eating a variety of healthy foods and snacks by the time they are 8 months old.

Breast Milk Needs

Between 8 months and 1 year of age, your baby needs 750 to 900 calories a day. Half of that (about 450 calories) should come from breast milk. 450 calories equal approximately 24 ounces (720 ml) of breast milk daily. Your child will get breast milk's benefits by continuing to breastfeed or taking breast milk in a bottle throughout the day.

Feeding Frequency

When your child is between 8 and 12 months old, you can breastfeed in the morning, before naps, after snacks and meals, and at bedtime. It's also still OK to breastfeed your child for comfort if they are scared, upset, or hurt.

At snack time and mealtime, give solid foods first and breastfeed after. This encourages your child to eat at least some solid foods.

If you breastfeed first, your little one may fill up on breast milk and be less interested in eating the solids that you're offering.

Sample Feeding Schedule

Here's a sample feeding and breastfeeding schedule for an 8- to 12-month-old:

Wake Up

  • Breastfeed or 4 to 6 ounces (120mL to 180mL) of breast milk in a cup or bottle

Morning Meal

  • 2 ounces (60 mL) of cereal
  • 2 ounces of fruit
  • Breastfeed or 4 to 6 ounces of breast milk 

Mid-Morning Snack

  • 2 ounces of fruit or vegetables
  • Finger foods
  • Offer water in a sippy cup

Afternoon Meal

  • 2 ounces of yogurt, meat, or cheese
  • 2 ounces of vegetables
  • Breastfeed or 4 to 6 of breast milk

Mid-Afternoon Snack

  • 2 ounces of fruit or vegetables
  • Finger foods
  • Water in a sippy cup

Evening Meal

  • 2 ounces of protein, such as chicken or meat
  • 2 ounces of vegetables
  • 2 ounces of fruit
  • 2 ounces of starch, such as pasta, rice, or potatoes
  • Breastfeed or 4 to 6 of breast milk

At Bedtime

  • Breastfeed or 6 to 8 ounces of breast milk

Weaning

It's ultimately up to you to decide when you want to stop breastfeeding. You can choose to breastfeed well beyond one year, or you can wean from the breast but still pump breast milk for your child.

You could also decide to switch over to infant formula, or another combination of any (or all!) of your options. As long as your baby is getting the nutrition that they need, you can pick the feeding method and schedule that works the best for you, your child, and your family.

Adding New Foods

As your child grows, they'll be trying many new and different foods. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you when it's time to start adding solids to your child's diet:

  • Give your child small, frequent feedings. Infants have little bellies, so it's best to feed them small amounts of food throughout the day.
  • Don’t force your child to eat. Babies tend to be inconsistent with eating. One day they will eat finger foods and pureed foods willingly, but the next day they may refuse any solid food and opt for the breast or a bottle instead.
  • Offer a variety of safe finger foods. Finger foods make great snacks. By 8 months, your baby can use their thumb and forefinger to pick up small pieces of food. Provide different finger foods for your baby to try.
  • Encourage self-feeding. Cheerios, small pieces of bread, or cut-up cooked chicken, vegetables, or pasta are good options to start with. Just remember that even foods that are safe for infants and toddlers can still be a choking hazard. You should always stay close and watch for signs of choking. 
  • Give the spoon a try. Begin using a spoon to feed your baby and help them to feed themselves. At first, they're more likely to play with the spoon or throw it. Your child will eventually use it to eat, but it may not be until after they are a year old.
  • Use a sippy cup. At this age, many infants can begin to hold and practice drinking water, breast milk, or infant formula from a sippy cup.
  • Introduce foods with different textures. Your baby can now chew, so you can start to add foods that have different textures. Cut-up table foods and soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, pudding, yogurt, jello, and eggs, are good choices.
  • Start new foods slowly. Continue to introduce new foods one at a time every few days. Watch for signs of a food allergy, which can include a rash, diarrhea, gassiness, spitting up, and vomiting.
  • Keep an eye out for constipation. Cereal and bananas are popular foods that babies eat when starting solids, but they can cause constipation. If your child starts to have difficulty with bowel movements, try adding prunes or other fruits to their diet, and limit the more binding foods for a while.

Challenges

As your child grows, the world around them becomes more exciting. It's easier for them to become distracted and less interested in breastfeeding. Around 8, 9, or 10 months of age, a baby might begin to refuse the breast or appear to be self-weaning.

Sometimes, parents take this as a sign to fully wean since it seems like a natural time to make an easier transition. However, it's also OK if you aren't ready to wean. You can often get through this stage and continue to breastfeed.

A Word From Verywell

It's beneficial for both you and your baby to continue breastfeeding between 8 and 12 months. However, breast milk alone is not enough to meet your baby's nutritional needs beyond 6 months of age.

As your child grows, they will need to eat a complete diet that includes healthy snacks and meals along with your breast milk. That said, every child is different.

Children don't always eat consistently at this age. While some 8-month-olds eat solids well and easily follow a feeding schedule, others take longer to get used to eating snacks plus three meals a day.

These differences can even occur in the same child. Your baby may take solids without a problem one day and only want to breastfeed the next. Be patient and keep offering both solids and the breast.

Remember: You don't have to figure it all out on your own. Your child's doctor can advise you on what your child should be eating, as well as offer guidance about when to start trying new foods.

Keeping your regularly scheduled well-baby appointments will help you both stay on track and ensure that your child is getting everything they need to grow healthy and strong.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Department of Health and Human Services. What are the recommendations for breastfeeding? 2017.

  2. Papoutsou S, Savva SC, Hunsberger M, et al. Timing of solid food introduction and association with later childhood overweight and obesity: The IDEFICS study. Matern Child Nutr. 2018;14(1). doi:10.1111/mcn.12471

  3. American Heart Association. Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children. 2018.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infant and Toddler Nutrition: Weaning. 2018.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infant and Toddler Nutrition. 2018.

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Your Baby’s First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2010.

  • Eidelman AI, Schanler RJ, Johnston M, Landers S, Noble L, Szucs K, Viehmann L. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2012;129(3):e827-41. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3552

  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition. Mosby. 2015.

  • Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.