Let’s talk about introducing meals with little ones. When do you start introducing meals and how often? How should you make the transition from 1 to 2 to 3 meals? When do snacks come into play? 

Introducing meals - When to transition from 1 to 2 to 3 meals a day?

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We all hear that the goal is to get to 3 meals a day and 2 snacks by age one, but how exactly do we get there? The truth is, there is no right answer. There is no one size fits all guide when it comes to introducing meals, the frequency, and the amounts. Babies are so different and progress at different paces. Some babies are ready to move into 3 meals a day within weeks of beginning solids, while other babies need months. Follow your baby’s lead when it comes to introducing meals. 

I wanted to share what introducing meals and transitioning into more meals and snacks looked like for my son Levi. Your journey may look completely different to Levi’s and that is completely fine! This is simply a sample guide. 

Introducing meals - sample guideline for different age ranges

I didn’t do baby-led weaning with my first son Myles, so his journey looked a lot different from Levi’s. His journey looked like starting with purees around 5.5 months, transitioning into super soft foods, and then transitioning into normal meals once he seemed ready. I went at a much slower pace with him. Even though they both had completely different feeding journeys, they’re both eating 3 meals and day plus 2 snacks now! They both got to the finish line at their own paces. 

With Myles, I had people telling me that I should be offering more than just purées early on, but I did what I felt comfortable with. With Levi, I had people telling me that he couldn’t handle table foods so early on, but again, I did what I felt comfortable with. I strongly believe that Mama knows what’s best!

How do I know when to transition the number of meals offered?

Follow your babies cues. Some babies may be ready to jump into 3 meals a day after a few weeks while others may need months. Start slow to give baby’s digestive system time to adjust from a milk only diet.

What course should I offer first when offering 1 meal a day: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?

It’s your choice! It can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner! The type of food doesn’t matter, just cautious when introducing allergens. When introducing meals, be sure to introduce potential allergens separately. For example, when introducing a meal for the first time, do not offer eggs and peanuts in the same meal as they are both common allergens. Introducing potential allergies independently will help you to better watch for reactions and pinpoint exact triggers.

What about milk?

Continue offering the same amount of milk until the age of 1. After age 1, milk intake decreases. 

Baby prefers milk over solids?

Normal! Transitioning to solid foods is a brand new experience for babies! It may take them some time to adjust to solids being a part of their diets after being used to just milk for so many months!

Baby prefers solids over milk?

Also normal! Continue to offer the same amount of milk so that baby can adjust to both. Speak to your pediatrician if you are concerned that milk intake is too low.

Portion Sizes

Portion sizes - different portions sizes can all be normal.
  • What portion sizes should I offer my baby? It varies! There is no right answer here. One portion size may be considered overwhelming to one baby and the same portion may be considered underwhelming to another. Every baby is different.
  • Start Small It’s a good idea to start with smaller portions and offer more if baby seems interested. This eliminates potential food waste and helps baby not feel too overwhelmed initially. Once you get a sense of the portion size your baby does best with, you can follow their lead and work with that.
  • As long as your baby is following his/her growth curve, then they are consuming the right amount for what their body needs.

If you are going the purée route with your little one and transitioning into finger foods, great! If you skipped purées and jumped straight into baby-led weaning, also great! When our little ones get older, no one will care whether they started with purees or finger foods. Choose the feeding approach that works best for your baby and your family!

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