4369 - Feeding Your Baby - Birth to 12 months

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Feeding Your Baby (Birth to 12 months)

Baby News

My Name: ________________________________________________

My Birthday: ______________________________________________

My Birth Weight: ___________________________________________

My Birth Length: ___________________________________________


Your Baby Will:

(Birth-4 months)

  • Have poor head control
  • Move towards nipple
  • Suck and swallow milk

Feeding Tips

  • Breast milk* is all baby needs during the first 6 months.
  • Follow baby's feeding cues to know how much and how often he needs to eat.
  • Baby will let you know he is hungry by:
  • Sucking on hands or fists
  • Opening mouth
  • Leaning forward
  • Baby will let you know he is full by:
  • Slowing down
  • Turning head away
  • Closing lips
  • Spitting out nipple

*or iron-fortified infant formula


If Your Baby:

(4 - 6 months)

  • Sits alone or with help
  • Holds head up
  • Opens mouth for food
  • Moves food from front of mouth to back

Try First Foods

  • Using an infant spoon, start by offering your baby rice cereal.
  • Next try plain, pureed, cooked vegetables and fruits.
  • Babies do not need soda, fruit punches, juice, coffee, or tea.
  • WIC gives infant cereal and baby food at 6 months when most babies are ready.


If Your Baby:

(6 - 8 months)

  • Begins to crawl
  • Starts to feed self with his fingers
  • Uses jaw to chew food

Try Next Foods

  • Offer cooked, mashed or pureed protein-rich foods, like meats, egg yolks, beans, and lentils.
  • Try small pieces of dry toast, crackers, dry breakfast cereal, tortillas, and cooked and mashed noodles or rice.
  • Offer baby breast milk, formula, or water in a cup at mealtimes.
  • Juice has less nutrition than whole fruits and vegetables. If you offer juice, use 100% juice and limit to 2-4 ounces a day in a cup with snacks.
  • WIC gives baby food meat at 6 months if your baby is exclusively breastfed.


If Your Baby:

(8 - 12 months)

  • Stands alone
  • Begins to walk
  • Can feed self with hands
  • Takes food from hand to mouth

Try Family Meals

  • Make eating together as a family a daily routine. Baby will:
  • Be less likely to choke.
  • Learn table manners.
  • Be more likely to try new foods.
  • Offer 3 meals and 3 snacks each day at about the same times.
  • Try soft, small pieces of food that the family is eating.
  • Baby should be off of the bottle and using a cup by 12-14 months.
  • Start whole cow's milk at 12 months in a cup with meals and snacks. Give water in between.

Age ranges are given to show that all babies develop at their own rate. If you have any concerns, talk with your baby's doctor.

Keep Baby Safe

¦ These foods should not be given until baby is at least one year old because they:

May contain harmful bacteria:

  • Honey, corn syrup, or Karo syrup
  • Unpasteurized juice and cider
  • Undercooked eggs

 May cause choking: (especially under age 3)

  • Hot dogs * Marshmallows
  • Whole grapes * Berries
  • Nuts * Raisins
  • Hard candy * Popcorn
  • Corn * Cookies
  • If you think your baby may have food allergies check with your doctor about how to introduce the following foods:
  • Cow's milk * Fish or shellfish
  • Eggs * Wheat
  • Soy * Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • It's best not to heat baby bottle or food in the microwave; this creates hot spots that may burn your baby's mouth.

Grow a Healthy Eater

You decide what, when, and where to feed your baby. Let your baby decide how much and whether to eat.

  • Be patient. Refusing new foods, spilling, and making a mess are normal when your baby is learning to eat.
  • Avoid distractions (like TV, computer, and phone) during mealtime to help your baby focus on eating.

For more information:

Call or visit your Illinois Department of Human Services' Family Community Resource Center (FCRC).

If you have questions about any Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program, call or visit your FCRC. We will answer your questions. If you do not know where your FCRC is or if you are unable to go there, you may call the automated helpline 24 hours a day at:


(866) 324-5553 TTY/Nextalk or 711 TTY Relay

You may speak to a representative between:

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Monday - Friday (except state holidays)

For answers to your questions,

you may also write:

Illinois Department of Human Services
Office of Customer Support
100 South Grand Avenue East
Springfield, Illinois 62762

Visit our web site at:  www.dhs.state.il.us

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

DHS 4369 (R-06-17) Feeding Your Baby (Birth to 12 months)  Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.  15,000 copies PO#17-1945