For whatever reason, many people like to weigh in on infant feeding choices—especially around this time when solid foods or cereals are in the mix. Here's the thing, though: You know your baby best. Although it's "just" five months (a blink of an eye in the long run!), you are already a pro when it comes to breastfeeding, offering formula, or any other method of feeding your 5-month-old baby.
How much should a 5-month-old eat?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and La Leche League recommend the following feeding schedules and amounts for 5-month-olds.
Breast milk: Five to seven ounces every three to four hours
Formula: Five to six ounces every four to five hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends that parents should follow the responsive feeding method, also known as feeding on demand, which looks to the infant's hunger cues for when to feed. The schedules below are just examples—be sure to follow your baby's hunger signals to know when your little one is ready for the next feeding. As babies get older, their hunger cues and feeding times start to become a little more predictable.
Related: 5-month-old baby milestones
What’s a good 5-month-old feeding schedule?
Remember, it's more important that you follow your baby's cues than adhere to a set schedule, so schedules outlined are general guides of how frequently you'll feed your baby—not hard-and-fast rules.
These guidelines also apply primarily to infants born full-term and without any underlying medical conditions. For preterm infants, babies with certain medical conditions or for any specific questions pertaining to your child, be sure to consult your child's pediatrician for a more customized feeding schedule.
Related: Baby Sleep Guides & Schedules
Can you give infant cereals to a 5-month-old baby?
With a 5-month-old baby, one of the most common questions you hear is "have you offered cereal yet?" There is a long-held notion that infant cereals can help them sleep better at night, but studies have not found a link between sleep duration and cereal intake. Although some parents will opt to introduce cereals this month for a variety of reasons, The AAP endorses sticking with exclusively breastfeeding or formula for another month or so. If you do offer cereal, it's also worth noting that the CDC recommends offering a variety of fortified infant cereals (like oat, barley and multi-grain) instead of just rice cereal due to concerns about arsenic exposure.
That's parenthood in a nutshell: You've got to do what's right for your child and your family. It will be time to introduce solids before you know it—and that's definitely something to celebrate! Until then, try to enjoy the pleasant patterns you've established with breastfeeding, formula-feeding, pumping or combo-feeding.
Read more about wellness for mama and your 5-month-old:
- 12 lies I believed about my baby sleeping through the night
- Motherly's Postpartum Wellness Class is here!
- Subscribe to the Becoming Mama podcast
- An open letter to my pre-baby body
A version of this story was published October 17, 2021. It has been updated.