What to Feed Baby, and When

Find out when your baby is ready for solid food and other helpful tips on what to feed your baby and when. See more baby care pictures.

If your baby could talk, he'd tell you when he is hungry, when he is full and why he refuses to eat anything green.

Unfortunately, that won't happen for at least a year — and it will probably take even longer than that before he's making his wishes known verbally. In the meantime, you'll have to figure out a few things on your own, most notably how much milk or formula baby needs, when to switch to solid food and what to introduce and when. To help, we talked to two experts who offer advice for the four general stages of baby's first year of life.

0 to 4 Months

Without question the best food for baby from birth is breast milk, says Dr. Rebecca Unger, a pediatrician in the Nutrition Evaluation Clinic at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least the first year of life. Realistically, though, it's not always possible to follow AAP's guideline, Unger acknowledges. If giving your baby breast milk isn't possible, the next best thing is formula, she says. The good news is that a host of formula products exist, including several new products that offer extra essential fatty acids, which are especially helpful for premature babies. For babies with food intolerances or allergies, soy or hypoallergenic formulas also exist.

Fortunately most babies can tolerate cow's milk formula — the most commonly used base for formula — says Unger, who recommends opting for the powder variety for babies who are approaching 4 months. The reason: At 4 to 6 months old, babies can begin to benefit from fluoride, which is found in most tap water.

See the next page to learn more about feeding a newborn.