Most pediatricians recommend starting solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age. Up until that point, infants rely solely on formula or breast milk. Once you begin offering purees and table foods, your baby satisfies her hunger and gets nutrition from them. Figuring out the right balance is an important way to ensure normal growth and development in your infant.
When you begin solid foods, your baby is likely to only eat a few bites once or twice per day. This gets her started, but table foods won't replace formula for many months. As your baby eats more purees and finger foods at the table, she's likely going to naturally drink less milk because the other portion of her diet is offering her nutrients and calories as well. In general, your baby needs 2 and 1/2 ounces of formula for each pound of body weight, up to 6 months of age, according to HealthyChildren, the website published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
HealthyChildren advises parents to feed their baby until she is satiated, rather than trying to get her to drink a set amount of formula at one time. This holds true once she starts on solid foods, too. Babies are well tuned to their hunger cues, and generally stop eating when full. Some days, your baby may eat more than usual and other days she might eat less formula than she normally does. As you add table foods and purees to her diet, her appetite for formula might decrease.
When to Feed Formula
At 4 to 6 months of age, when you first begin introducing baby food, your little one still relies on formula for the bulk of her nutrient needs. Healthy Alberta recommends feeding your baby formula before offering purees or table foods as you get started. This ensures that she still gets enough formula, but also begins the transition to eating solid foods. As she gets older, you can start her meal with solids and then top her off with formula afterwards. By 12 months, she may be down to just three formula feedings of about 6 ounces each, supplemented with three meals and a snack or two during the day, according to the Baby Care Advice website.
All babies are different and are ready for solid foods at different rates. Likewise, babies eat varying amounts of formula. Refrain from making comparisons, but talk to your baby's pediatrician if you are ever concerned that she's not growing normally or her appetite diminishes. At the same time, follow the advice of your baby's doctor regarding the right time to introduce solid foods and scale back on formula.