Now that your baby is 9 months of age, fitting in solid foods can start to get a bit more complicated! Not only is your baby likely starting to eat more than when they were first starting solids, but they are starting to need more meals, too. Whether you are feeding traditional baby food or finger foods in a baby led weaning style, how many meals they need and how to approach feeding is the same!
How Much Milk Does A 9 Month Old Need?
Before we get into the specifics of scheduling, let's touch on milk for a second. Your baby's milk, whether it is infant formula or breast milk, is still the most important part of your baby's diet.
While it doesn't meet all of their nutritional needs anymore, it still will meet most of them. Milk feeds are the primary source of nutrients all the way through your child's first birthday.
With that said, there is no need to be overly worried about how many ounces of formula or breast milk they are getting. Right around this age, many babies will start to drink less formula or breastmilk. It is okay to go by your baby's lead when it comes to this and not assume you need to meet any specific amount.
How Much Formula Does Your Baby Need?
With a formula-fed baby especially, or a baby you receives breastmilk in a bottle, it is easy to focus on how much they were drinking previously. You can see the exact amount in their bottle! And there are lots of places out there that will tell you a specific amount of ounces your 9 month old should be drinking.
I shy away from those numbers, because every baby is very different. Some will drink so much formula or breastmilk you think they couldn't possibly have room for food. Others will drink so little that you think there's no way they're getting enough. Whether your baby is in either of these camps, or is in between, focus on following your baby's lead.
Give their formula or breastmilk before their meals still whenever possible. And then just ride it out.
How Much Breast Milk Does Your Baby Need?
When it comes to breastfed infants, it's a little different. It's often easier to give up control a bit more because you have no clue how much your baby is getting, anyways.
Know that the length of time your child spends at the breast doesn't equate to how much milk they're getting. Often times they get more efficient, and shortening times doesn't necessarily mean they are getting fewer ounces of breast milk.
Continue to offer them the opportunity to nurse throughout the day. Keep offering it before meals when possible. Know that many breastfed babies will also start to become distracted at the breast right around this time, as they are discovering the world around them. Continue to offer, continue to follow their lead, and be okay with changes!
The Best Way To Help Your Baby Eat
Now that we've gotten how much milk they need out of the way, let's talk about the rest of the logistics around eating.
At 9 months old, the most important thing to focus on is offering your baby a wide variety of foods. We want them to start getting the hang of new food and new things. That includes table foods if you haven't already been introducing them!
It can be daunting to think of offering a wide variety of foods, as it often seems so abstract. What exactly does that even mean?
Basically, we know that in the first year of life we have a window of opportunity. It is a great time to expose them to lots of different foods, as they are usually pretty open to new experiences.
It doesn't mean that you need to give them a gazillion different foods and let them try each one once and move on. We want to be offering them a variety of foods that are safe for them to eat, which at this age still means soft foods in general. Wit this, they can eat in a way that is fairly similar to the rest of the family.
By including your baby in family meals, and exposing them to a bunch of different foods that the rest of the family eats, you are giving them a leg up when it comes to their eating habits.
The Logistics Behind Feeding 9 Month Old Babies
By around 9 months, you want to be feeding your baby 3 main meals a day. There is no need to add in snacks, as your baby's breast milk or formula provides all the extra nutrients they need in between their meals of solid food.
Focus on helping your baby learn new skills, like using their pincer grasp to pick up their food. The easiest way to do this is to simply change up the size of the food you are giving them!
Continue to focus on exposing your child to the common allergens, like peanut butter, eggs, and fish. Continued exposure is one of the best ways to help prevent food allergies.
At this age, we do still want to be aware of the risk of choking. Usually a 9 month old is starting to feel more confident with their eating skills. This can often make parents relax their guard a bit around choking hazards.
And while I don't want you to feel anxious about it, I do want you to be aware that there a still a lot of foods that should be modified for safety or shouldn't be in your baby's diet at all.
Sample Schedule for a 9 Month Old Baby
When it comes to your baby's feeding schedule, it is absolutely okay to have a flexible schedule for your daily routine. Don't feel that a schedule means you need to be at a certain time each day. And don't feel that the example times I'm giving below are the times that need to work for you.
Think of it more like there needs to be a flow to your day. A general amount of awake time in between when your baby naps. A general pattern to your day once they wake up and start the day after their nighttime sleep.
There is no "best time" for feeding your child. The best time is simply the one that works for you and your baby. Use this simply as an idea of where you might start when it comes to a schedule for this age.
Your baby's solid meals and food in general is starting to become more important as they grow, but helping your baby sleep with a sleep schedule is always a good idea. A well rested baby has a much easier time exploring food and eating than one that is always tired!
Example 9 Month Old Baby Schedule With 3 Meals
- 6:30 am: Wake-up, then nurse or bottle
- 7:30-8:00 am: Breakfast
- 9:00 am: Nurse or bottle
- 9:30 am: Morning nap
- 11:00 am: Nurse or bottle
- 12:00 pm: Lunch
- 1:30 pm: Nurse or bottle
- 2:00 pm: Afternoon nap
- 4:30 pm: Nurse or bottle
- 5:30 pm: Dinner
- 6:30 pm: Nurse or bottle, then bedtime routine and sleep
Is this feeding schedule similar to what yours is? Have you established a flow to your day yet that you find helpful?
Stop feeding problems before they start!
Sign up to receive my weekly emails. I'll send feeding tips, tricks, the occasional product that will help you have the most successful feeding journey possible, and occasional printable guides like this one. All with the goal of helping you become your own feeding expert!