Formula or solid foods: Which should come first?

I have a seven-month-old daughter. I feel formula is more important than solids at her age. She is drinking 24 ounces followed by four tablespoons of baby food at each meal. Some of my friends say solids are much more important. Should I continue giving her mostly formula or increase her solids and cut back on the formula?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

At seven months, breastmilk or formula is still more important in meeting your child's nutritional needs than are solids. However, if she will still drink her 24 ounces of formula even after eating solids first, the order in which they are served is not important.

This is where knowing your baby is critical. Some babies will want nothing to do with solids. By not gently encouraging them to try solids and offering the solids when they are hungry, they may not progress in their eating skills. Others will be so enthusiastic about solids that they may fill up on foods and miss out on the still important nutrients of their formula. For these babies, it may be best to divide the formula feeding into a before and after affair.

The move from breastmilk or formula to solids is a gradual affair. Once your baby is eating a wide variety of solids, so that she can get most of her nutritional needs from them, then it is okay to allow breastmilk or formula intake to go down and to follow or accompany the meal.

As a general guideline, at seven months, 24 to 32 ounces of formula is recommended. From eight months onward, the recommended amount of formula decreases as solids begin to play a bigger role. In a month or two, your daughter's formula feeding may be left for after the solids, or for her midday and early morning and bedtime bottles. Until then, you are wise to serve it first, if that is how you can guarantee she will drink what she needs.

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