Office of Child Nutrition logo

Healthy Eating Tips - Birth through 3 Months

What to Feed Your Baby

  • Feed your baby either breast milk or iron-fortified formula only for the first 6 months of life. Even after starting solid foods, breastfeeding and formula feeding should continue until 12 months of age. Unless breastfeeding continues, whole milk should be served after 12 months of age.
  • Starting and continuing to breastfeed can be challenging. Don't give up! If you need support or have questions, call a local lactation consultant or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in your area. For more information on breastfeeding contact:
    • WIC toll-free at 1-800-222-2189
    • Toll-free National Women's Health Helpline at 1-800-994-9662
    • West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance at
  • Many infants will need to receive a daily Vitamin D supplement, which is necessary to ensure healthy bone growth and development. Ask your health care provider about the amount of Vitamin D needed for your infant.

Signs of Hunger

Babies should be fed whenever they show you they are hungry. Look for these signs:

  • Rooting: a reflex in newborns that makes them turn their head toward a breast or bottle to feed
  • Sucking on fingers or a fist
  • Moving, licking or smacking of lips
  • Fussing or crying
  • Excited arm and leg movements

Sings of Fullness

It's not necessary for your baby to finish a bottle or container of food. If she shows signs that she is full and there is food left, allow her to stop eating. Look for these signs:

  • Sealing lips together, decreasing sucking, spitting out or refusing the nipple, or pushing or turning away from the breast or bottle
  • Milk begins to run out of the baby's mouth

Safety and Storage of Breast Milk

  • It is best to defrost breast milk either in the refrigerator overnight, by running under warm water, or by setting in a container of warm water. Thawed breast milk should be used within 24 hours. Do not refreeze unused milk.
  • If your baby doesn't finish the bottle of breast milk within one hour, throw out the rest. Bacteria from saliva can contaminate the milk and make your infant sick if he drinks it later.
Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
Location of StorageMaximum Recommended Storage Time
Room Temperature3 - 4 hours
Refrigerator48 - 72 hours
Freezer6 months

Safety and Storage of Formula

  • Always follow label directions carefully.
  • If your baby doesn't finish the bottle of formula within 1 hour, throw out the remainder. Bacteria from saliva can contaminate the formula and make your infant sick if she drinks it later.
  • To prevent waste and save time, mix a large batch of formula and divide it into bottles that you can refrigerate and use throughout the day.
Formula Storage Guidelines
Location of StorageMaximum Recommended Storage Time
Room Temperature2 hours
Room Temperature, if warmed1 hour
Refrigerator24 hours

How Much to Feed Your Baby

Understand your role and your baby's role at mealtimes. Your job is to offer breast milk or formula at regular times; your baby's job is to decide how much to eat. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about feeding your baby.

Reminder: Never use a microwave to heat a bottle of breast milk or formula.