Should a Baby Have a Bottle Before or After Breakfast? Types of Drinks and Feeding Schedules

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.

Updated:

Are you preparing to move your baby from the bottle to solids? From around six months old as you start to add solids to your little one’s diet, you still need to include milk. This gives rise to questions such as whether a baby should have a bottle before breakfast or any other meal? Or is it best to leave it until they’ve eaten food? 

Giving your baby a bottle before breakfast makes them less irritable when introducing solids at this time of the day. However, giving them a full bottle takes away their appetite for more food! Depending on your baby’s preference, giving them a bottle after breakfast is an option. 

Key takeaways

  • Babies get all their nutrients from infant formula or breast milk in the first 12 months.
  • Giving your baby some milk before breakfast can encourage them to eat solids.
  • Using a feeding schedule for the first year ensures your baby gets the right nutrients for healthy growth and development.
  • Juice, whole cow’s milk, water, and tea can be given before breakfast but do so with some caution. 
  • Always follow safety measures when giving your baby a bottle before or after meals.
  • Phase out the morning bottle by introducing the sippy cup!

Should Babies Have a Bottle Before or After Breakfast? 

Weaning your baby onto solids during the early days of introducing food comes with some trial and error! However, it’s important to remember that your six-month-old baby still gets most of his or her calories from infant formula or breast milk. Your baby still needs her morning bottle for the first year even when eating solids but should it be given before or after breakfast?

Give Your Baby a Bit of Milk Before Breakfast  

The first time you introduce your baby to solids, you’ll only be giving them small quantities to help them get used to the experience of eating food. Giving your little one a bit of milk before breakfast will satisfy their hunger pangs before finishing the bottle after eating some food. 

Giving your baby some milk before breakfast stimulates their appetite, encouraging them to try solid food. But, if you give them too much milk, they’ll feel full and fall asleep before eating breakfast!

Feeding Schedules By Age – Bottles and Solids 

When to wean your baby is a personal decision. Perhaps you might have heard about a typical feeding schedule in the first year from your lactation consultant (who helps also with bottle feeding). Anyway, here’s how such a schedule can look like which includes both the bottle and solids:

  • 4 to 6 months old:  24 to 36 ounces of infant formula or breast milk spread out over 5 to eight nursing sessions throughout the day plus 1 to 4 tablespoons of cereal twice a day. You can include 1 to 4 tablespoons of pureed fruit and vegetables twice a day as well. 
  • 6 to 8 months old: 24 to 36 ounces of milk in a 24-hour period plus 4 to 9 tablespoons of baby cereal, pureed fruit, and vegetables over 2 to 3 meals in a day. At this stage, you can start introducing up to 6 tablespoons of protein such as yogurt, cream cheese, or scrambled egg. 
  • 9 to 12 months: Milk can be reduced to 16 to 30 ounces spread out over the day (3 to 5 nursing sessions.) Solid food such as grains, fruits, and vegetables can be increased to between a quarter and half a cup over 2 to 3 meals daily. At this stage, you can introduce up to half a cup of dairy products and the equivalent in protein 2 to 3 times during the day. 

I recommend

Your baby’s first introduction to solids will be a few tablespoons but over time, as they get used to the sensation of eating food, you can increase the quantity. Spreading the bottles and solid food throughout the day keeps your baby satisfied while ensuring their get all their nutrients for healthy development and growth

Watch this video and find out how to introduce family foods to your breastfed baby.

Various Drinks Babies Can Have Before Breakfast

Juice

Moving your little one from breast milk or infant formula to juice is one way of introducing different flavors to your baby’s diet. However, as most juices contain high quantities of sugar pediatricians recommend only introducing them when your baby is over 12 months old. Juice shouldn’t be given in a bottle but rather from a cup when your child can sit upright.

Milk

If you’re weaning your baby from breast milk in the first year, transition her to infant formula to ensure she’s still getting all the necessary nutrients at this stage. In her second year, you can introduce her to whole cow’s milk. When deciding between sippy cups or bottles for introducing your baby to whole cow’s milk consider using the former for weaning off the bottle. 

Water

Knowing when your baby is ready for water is important as they shouldn’t be drinking it in the first six months. Water can be introduced, by one or two teaspoons, once your baby is older than six months old. Your one-year-old toddler and older can have more water together with their breakfast or other meals. 

Tea

Giving babies tea before two years old isn’t recommended and even then it should only be herbal teas, free from caffeine or added sugars. Pure chamomile tea is considered safe for your baby over six months old but in small quantities such as 5 ounces, three times a day. This can be introduced at the same time you start giving your baby water or juice.

Safety Measures For Babies When Drinking Bottles Before and After Meals

  • Always check the temperature of the contents before giving your baby a bottle.
  • You may heat up frozen milk you may store in your freezer, but only breastmilk and not infant formula.
  • Don’t reheat half-empty bottles. Rather discard and make up a fresh bottle before or after a meal. 
  • Check the teats are clean before giving your baby a bottle. 
  • Avoid prop-feeding your baby with a bottle as this could result in choking or gagging, aspiration, and ear infections. 
  • Avoid over-or under-feeding your baby when giving the bottle before or after a meal. 
  • Always supervise your baby while they’re drinking from a bottle before or after meals. 
  • Putting oatmeal or cereal in a baby bottle: try to avoid it as it can be a choking hazard!

How to phase out a morning bottle

When weaning your baby from the morning bottle, start introducing liquids in a sippy cup. This should be done from 6 to 9 months old with your baby completely off bottles by the time she’s 18 months old. Getting your baby used to the food at breakfast time helps the process of removing the morning bottle.

Conclusion

Calculating how many baby bottles (and nipples) you need as your little one transitions to solids prevents you from having too many in the cupboard! But, don’t be too hasty to ditch bottles completely especially in the first year. Your baby still needs to drink infant formula or breast milk in the first 12 months and yes, you can give her some before giving her breakfast!

After you’ve decided and learned about the best time for feeding your baby (before or after breakfast), you may be wondering about whether to change baby first or prioritize feeding or to offer a bottle before or after a bath? I got you covered with another article about that. 🙂

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Author

I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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