When does wic stop giving baby food

Feeding Guide: 6-12 Months - WIC South Dakota

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Please note: This information primarily focuses on nutrition for the healthy, full-term infant. Consult with a WIC Health Professional for more detailed and advanced information particularly for preterm, low-birth weight, special needs, or infants with medical conditions.

Breastfed Baby

It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to exclusively breastfeed (no formula) through the first 6 months of life and to continue breastfeeding through 12 months of age while complementary foods are added, as mutually desired by mom and baby.

Breastmilk is still the main source of nutrition. Continue to breastfeed on demand. On average, baby will feed 3-4 times per day.  

Baby will start to breastfeed less as they eat more baby food and table foods. “Table foods” refers to foods the rest of the family eats at meal times. Table foods are the next step after baby has mastered baby foods and is developmentally ready for more chewing, texture, and flavor.

Baby food and table foods are for learning new flavors and textures as well as learning to chew and eat from a spoon, with fingers, and to start self-feeding with utensils. Let them be messy and feed themselves. It is how they learn!

  • WIC does not provide solid foods until 6 months, an age most babies are developmentally ready to try solids.
  • WIC provides baby food until 12 months of age.
Get more great breastfeeding information here!

Formula-fed Baby

Baby will start to consume less formula as they eat more baby food and table foods. It is important to continue providing formula through 12 months of age if not breastfeeding. 

Formula is still the main source of nutrition. Continue to offer formula on demand. On average, baby will drink 24-32 ounces total per day (about 3-4 8oz bottles per day)

Baby food and table foods are more for learning new flavors and textures as well as learning to eat from a spoon, with fingers, and to start self-feeding with utensils.

  • Table foods are referring to foods the rest of the family eats at meal times. Table foods are the next step after baby has mastered baby foods and is developmentally ready for more chewing, texture, and flavor.
  • Baby food is offered on your WIC package until 12 months of age.

Cow’s Milk & Other Liquids

Never give cow’s milk before 12 months. Why?

  • Cow’s milk has too much protein, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, and potassium
  • Cow’s milk lacks key nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, linoleic acid, iron, and copper
  • Too much protein and minerals are hard on your baby’s kidneys, can cause dehydration, and it is hard for baby to digest.
  • Cow’s milk can cause bleeding from the intestinal tract.
  • Bleeding caused by cow’s milk increases your baby’s chance of becoming anemic (or low in iron).

At 12 months, whole cow’s milk can be offered until 24 months. See Feeding Guide for 1-2 year old for more information.


  • Water can be introduced from a cup, not a bottle at about 6 months. 
  • Offer a small amount of drinking water once solid foods are introduced to help babies get familiar with the taste. Just a few sips at meal times is all it takes.
  • Drinking water at this age is more to practice using a cup than for nutritional needs. Let baby practice when he shows signs of readiness.

Other liquids

  • Never give honey, syrup, kool-aid, pop, juice, or any sweetened drink to an infant.
  • Juice is not recommended for babies less than 12 months of age.

No Honey Before 12 Months

Honey, including products that have honey cooked or baked in it, should not be fed to infants younger than 12 months due to risk of infant botulism.

  • Foods cooked or baked with honey not heated to a certain temperature may still contain viable spores. When an infant eats foods with these invisible spores, the spores can produce a toxin that may cause infant botulism.
  • Botulism can result in death.
  • A child over 12 months can destroy the small amount of spores in honey, but an infant cannot.

Feeding Abilities

At 6-7 months, baby will:

  • Use the whole hand or palm to pick up foods

At 8-9 months, baby will:

  • Use their fingers to pick up foods.
  • Reach for spoon to start spoon feeding themselves, may need help
  • Can drink from a cup that is held or may begin to hold a cup

Introducing Food

Introduce foods around 6 months of age when showing signs of readiness.

Signs of Readiness

  • Holds neck steady
  • Sits without support
  • Opens mouth when food is offered
  • Draws in lower lip when spoon is removed from mouth
  • Keeps food in mouth and swallows it
  • Reaches for food showing interest

Starting solids too soon can…

  • Cause choking
  • Be hard for baby to digest
  • Prevent baby from getting enough breast milk or formula for best growth

Food can be offered in different ways.

  • Baby-Led Weaning method (also known as Baby-Led Feeding)
  • Offering pureed baby foods
0-6 months Breast Milk 8-12 feedings on demand. Gradual decline in feedings at 4-6 months. Feed on demand. Refrain from watching the clock.
  • Liquids are best because baby eats by sucking
  • Watch for weight gain in the first weeks/months
  • Baby should have 6-8 wet diapers per day, after first week of life
  • Teething is starting
  • Wait to start solids until close to 6 months old
Iron-Fortified Formula 2-3 oz
(increasing to consume around 32 oz at 6 months)
6-8 feedings
6-7 months Breast Milk Gradual decline in feedings. Continue feeding on demand. Feed on demand. Refrain from watching the clock.  
  • Introduce food at about 6 months when showing signs of readiness
  • Food can be offered in different ways.
    • Baby-Led Weaning (Feeding) method
    • Offering pureed baby foods
  • Start offering small amounts of water from an open cup
  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 4-8 oz water for infants 6-12 months of age.
Iron-Fortified Formula 6-8 oz
(consuming 24-32 oz)
3-5 feedings
Infant cereal, bread, crackers
1-2 Tbsp 1-2 times per day

Plain, strained, pureed, mashed
1-2 Tbsp of vegetables

1-2 Tbsp of fruit

1-2 times per day for vegetables

1-2 times per day for fruit

Eggs, meat, poultry, fish, cheese/yogurt legumes; Plain, mashed, pureed
1-2 Tbsp 1-2 times per day
8-12 months Breast Milk Gradual decline in feedings. Continue feeding on demand. Feed on demand. Refrain from watching the clock.
  • Try new flavors and textures
  • Offer plain foods, no need to add sauces, fat, salt or sugar
  • Avoid desserts and highly processed foods
  • Avoid foods that can cause choking such as hot dogs, whole grapes, raw apples, nuts, popcorn, etc.
  • Continue offering open cup, by 10 months offer the cup more and the bottle less
  • Prepare to wean from the bottle at 12 months, whether you breastfeed or formula-feed.
  • Continue breastfeeding as long as desired by mom and baby!
  • If pumping or have frozen breast milk, offer by cup after 12 months
Iron-Fortified Formula 6-8 oz 3-4 feedings (6-8 oz each consuming 24 ounces)
(Infant cereal, bread, crackers)
2-4 Tbsp 1-2 times per day

(ground, finely chopped, diced)
2-3 Tbsp of vegetables

2-3 Tbsp of fruit

2-3 times per day for vegetables

2-3 times per day for fruit

(meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, legumes; ground, finely chopped, diced)
1-2 Tbsp 1-2 times per day

*Source: WIC Works Infant Nutrition and Feeding Manual.

Feeding Tips for the 6-12 month old

  • At any time between 6-12 months, daily amounts will vary. Never force your baby to eat all his food or finish a bottle. Baby will know when he is full and done eating! Look for signs of fullness. 
  • Baby’s tummy is small. It is important to feed healthy foods first. 
  • Less healthy food choices like cookies, chips, and candy can be a choking hazard but also do not give baby what is needed for proper growth and development.
  • Offer fruit for dessert. Babies do not need desserts.
  • Buy plain foods. Babies do not need added salt and sugar.
  • Table foods should be soft and easy to chew. See the Choking section.
  • A relaxed, pleasant atmosphere is an important part of feeding children of all ages. Be patient and give them time to practice. It will be messy but have fun with it!
  • Let your baby sit at the table with the family!
  • Always stay with baby when he is eating.
  • Offer more breast milk, formula, or water in the cup as baby gets closer to age 1. This will help with weaning from the bottle soon after their first birthday. See section on Weaning: Breastfed Baby and Weaning: Formula-Fed Baby.
  • Wipe baby’s gums and teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals. This will keep baby’s gums healthy.
  • Wash your hands and baby’s hands with soap before feeding. Wash the high chair with warm soapy water after baby eats.
  • See section on Food Safety to learn about how to safely handle and prepare food for you and your family.
  • See section on Food Allergies to learn about the newest recommendations on how to best prevent food allergies from forming in children.

Sources: Healthy Eating Research, USDA Infant Nutrition & Feeding – A Guide for Use in WIC

This post was last updated on September 1st, 2022 at 2:39 PM

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Understanding Your WIC Benefits

Understanding Your WIC Benefits

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program. Supplemental means that the amount of formula or foods WIC provides may not meet all of your formula or food needs for the month. You will need to buy more food or formula to feed you and your WIC eligible family members.

Each family receives an eWIC card to buy their WIC foods or formula. All food or formula benefits for each family member on WIC will be combined or grouped into one amount for each food item. For example, if you are pregnant and have a 2 year old, your Family Benefits List will show 2 dozen eggs- 1 dozen eggs for you and 1 dozen for your child.

WIC approves many different brands and products in each of the WIC food categories: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter/beans, cereal, juice and infant foods. 

For more information see "Questions You May Have About WIC Food Benefits" in English and Spanish. 

The WIC approved foods may be found in the Connecticut WIC Food Guide located on the Approved Food Guide webpage. In addition, the most up-to-date version of the Connecticut WIC Food Guide can be found on the WICShopper app.

Understanding CT WIC Food Benefits

Comprensión de los beneficios alimentarios de WIC de Connecticut

Common questions:

Can I change the food listed on my family benefit list?

ONLY your local WIC office can change your food package. If you have concerns or special needs be sure to talk to your WIC Nutritionist before your benefits are issued. They may be able to adjust your food package.

Do I need to purchase everything listed on my family benefit list?

No. You are not required to pick up everything on your Family Benefit List. We encourage you to only buy the foods that you will use.

What if I run out of food and I’ve used all of my WIC benefits?

The WIC program is meant to “supplement” your diet. The foods you receive at WIC are not intended to meet all of your nutritional needs. You will need to purchase additional foods on your own. Your local office can help you find additional food assistance programs if needed.

Can I save benefits for next month that I didn’t use?

No. Benefits expire at midnight on the expiration date found on each receipt.

Food package changes at designated time periods. 

  • Birth- 5 months: The only food your infant needs at this time is breastmilk or formula. WIC cannot provide infant foods until your baby turns 6 months old.
  • 6-11 months: At this age breastmilk or formula are still the primary source of nutrition for your baby. In addition your infant will receive infant foods (infant cereal and infant fruits & vegetables).
  • 12-23 months: Your child will receive a food package that includes whole milk, whole milk yogurt and a variety of other foods.
  • 2-5 years old: Your child will now receive low-fat or nonfat milk and low-fat or nonfat yogurt. 
  • Women: A women’s food package is based on her category (pregnant, non-breastfeeding until 6 months postpartum and breastfeeding up to 12 months postpartum).

Your Family Food Benefits list shows the foods you can purchase each month. You’ll get this list at each WIC appointment. You can also check your current balance using your phone, tablet or computer.  View the How to Check your Balance webpage to learn more.



Up to what age to feed the baby at night and how to replace formula

Baby formula is only a forced measure to replace mother's milk in the absence of sufficient lactation or underweight in the baby. In all other respects, the infant formula feeding algorithm remains the same as with breastfeeding. The baby also needs nightly feedings about every 3-4 hours. This is due to scientifically proven facts. Babies up to a year old have an accelerated metabolism, food is digested faster, and naturally, they experience hunger at night. Also, any anxiety of the baby at night forces him to demand his mother's participation, and of course - food as a sedative. There is even a theory that children are genetically woken up to eat to avoid "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" in their sleep.

But also can't it continue indefinitely? The child grows, develops actively, from the age of 6 months receives a variety of complementary foods, and over time should form a normal daily routine. And for this you need to figure out: how to wean a child at night to eat the mixture in the most gentle ways.

Up to what age to give the mixture at night

Experts differ on this issue, but the average age when you can do without night feedings is nevertheless deduced. Infants with normal development can sleep peacefully at night without formula 10-12 hours from 9-12 months. Of course, if parents do not consider it necessary to restrict their child in nutrition, they can safely continue to feed their child at night and beyond. But they must be aware that, firstly, over time, these periods of eating become just a habit for the baby. And secondly, mothers should also think about their own well-being after sleepless nights. So, the approximate age of weaning a child from night feedings has been determined, it remains to find out how to replace the mixture for the night after a year for the first time of the transition to a new regimen.

Night formula alternative

Formula feeding formula is extremely nutritious and delicious for your baby. Therefore, the nightly replacement should be unequal, so that the baby subsequently feels that he does not need to wake up for such food. For these reasons, many mothers, thinking about how to replace the mixture for the night, use not the best products. It is strongly not recommended to use compotes or juices, because the ultimate goal is a complete and painless rejection of night food. In addition, fruit drinking can cause flatulence and abdominal pain - not the most favorable factors for restful sleep.

It is better to replace the traditional food at first with a well-diluted mixture, and then with pure water. At the same time, you need to try to slightly shift the period of falling asleep and provide the child with peace and a hearty dinner before going to bed. During the gradual transition to a new way of life, it is not necessary to immediately offer a diluted mixture to the awakened baby at night, it is better to try to calm him down in a different way - caress, rock him. And since night meals a priori will cease to be delicious food, the child himself will gradually forget about it, but the wise human body will be rebuilt anyway.

how to choose the right baby food and what is the best?

The ideal "baby food" for an infant is breast milk. However, not all mothers can breastfeed their baby, usually this is due to the health of the mother or child. It happens that the woman herself has a serious condition after childbirth and in the early postoperative period, reduced lactation or diseases in which breastfeeding is contraindicated. In such cases, the baby is given formula milk - this is the only alternative to mother's milk. Subsequently, at four to seven months, complementary foods should be introduced into the child's diet, regardless of whether he is breastfed or artificial. The mother is faced with the task of choosing the right baby food for complementary foods.

In this article, we'll talk about what foods for babies are and how to choose the best baby food.

Legislation defines "baby food" as food products that meet the physiological needs of a child under 14 years of age. And nutrition for young children is food intended for children from birth to three years[1]. It is necessary to make a diet taking into account the age of the baby and the characteristics of his physical condition.

The Union of Pediatricians of Russia created the National Program for feeding children in the first year of life and the National Program for optimizing the nutrition of children from one to three years old [2]. They describe recommendations regarding what formula to feed the baby from birth, how to introduce complementary foods and expand the baby's diet. These programs provide detailed information on what nutrients and nutrients should be included in the diet of children of different ages.

First you need to figure out what kind of baby food is [3]. Products for toddlers can be divided into two categories:

Infant formula. There are for children from birth to six months (formula 1 mixtures, or initial), from six months to a year (formula 2) and from a year (formula 3). The composition of such baby food is adapted, that is, as close as possible to the composition of breast milk.

  • In the initial mixtures, the amount of protein is reduced to 1. 2-1.5 g / 100 ml - in accordance with the composition of breast milk. They also changed the fat and mineral profile. The initial mixtures are enriched with such an essential amino acid as taurine, and micronutrients, probiotics, vitamins.
  • After six months, the baby's need for protein increases, mother's milk changes its composition. And babies on artificial feeding begin to be fed with a more nutritious mixture of formula 2. Taurine is no longer always needed: the body of a baby aged from six months to a year is able to synthesize this amino acid itself. Meanwhile, the content of iron, calcium, zinc increases compared to the initial mixtures, because by this age the child's reserves of minerals received from the mother during pregnancy are depleted, and they need to be replenished.
  • A child's nutrition changes after a year - he is already able to eat a variety of solid foods. However, it is advisable to continue to feed him with a mixture, though already formula 3. Pediatricians recommend it as a source of vitamins and minerals that the baby can easily absorb.

Feed. As we have already noted, it is introduced when the baby is four to seven months old. This interval is called the “critical window” and is considered the best time to start weaning for several reasons:

  1. The baby needs a wider range of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. In addition, his baby's digestive system is already ready to accept more solid and complex foods than mother's milk or infant formula.
  2. By this age, the child has an interest in food, and he needs to be offered the right foods to develop taste.
  3. During this period, the risk of developing a food allergy to a new product is lower.
  4. Timely introduction of complementary foods prevents the risk of micronutrient deficiencies and iron deficiency anemia.

Usually the first food is vegetable puree or monocomponent gluten-free cereals, dairy or dairy-free. Over time, cereals containing gluten, supplements from fruits and berries, and also consisting of several cereals are added. A six-month-old child can already be given several types of vegetables and cereals. Also, at about six months, they begin to give meat puree, then fruit, and from eight months - fish. A child from seven months is allowed the yolk.

From the age of 12 months, complementary foods already make up the majority of your baby's diet. At this age, it is especially important to diversify the child's diet: he can be given soups with small pieces of vegetables, meat, fish and cereals.

For information

During the first feeding, the baby's eating habits are laid, and it depends on the parents how correct they will be. Often, mothers introduce fruit juices into complementary foods too early. And because babies have an innate preference for sweet tastes, they can become naughty and stop eating the unsweetened foods they need, especially vegetables. Unhealthy taste habits are formed, which can later provoke obesity.
Domestic doctors are concerned about such irrational nutrition of young children - due to the wrong approach to nutrition, many babies experience a deficiency of vitamins and an excess of fast carbohydrates.

How to choose baby foods

Finding the right foods for your baby is not an easy task. Store shelves are bursting with boxes, jars and bottles, and manufacturers write on every second package that the baby will be healthy, strong and cheerful after feeding. Of course, the baby will receive the necessary substances, no matter what product his parents choose, because all the production of baby food is strictly controlled by the state. By the way, Russia has some of the most stringent requirements for the quality of baby food in the world.

However, products for children differ in their properties. It is necessary to select food so that by the end of the first year of life the baby has actively developed chewing skills and an interest in independence, and the diet of complementary foods is reasonably varied.

For children from one to three years of age, the diet should be even more varied. It is important that the child receives daily something new from the main food groups: dairy, vegetables and fruits, meat and fish, cereals, butter and vegetable oil. Of course, the baby's diet should be expanded taking into account his state of health.

When organizing the nutrition of a child from the moment of introduction of complementary foods and up to three years, a mother needs not only to know what can be fed, but also to consider what foods should not be included in the diet. Among the prohibited products for children under three years of age:

  • any mushrooms, vegetables and fruits in the marinade;
  • pickles, preserves in tomato sauce;
  • store-bought juices with concentrates, carbonated drinks, coffee and strong tea;
  • various seasonings - mustard, ketchup, hot sauces, horseradish, pepper, vinegar, mayonnaise;
  • products with flavorings, industrial colors, including chewing gum;
  • margarine and refractory fats - lamb, pork;
  • chocolate, sweets, other sweets.

To choose the right baby food, you need to know exactly what you should pay attention to and what you don't need to worry about.

When choosing mixtures, it is important to check:

  • Absence of palm oil. Formula manufacturers can use palm oil (or extract of palm oil, to be more precise) because, like breast milk, it is rich in palmitic acid. However, in human milk, palmitic acid is in the beta position, while in palm oil it is in the alpha position. Such alpha-palmitic acid can interfere with the absorption of calcium and fats and is generally less well absorbed by the child's body. This can negatively affect the work of the intestines, lead to constipation, regurgitation. Milk fat is better suited for baby food as a source of palmitic acid[4][5].
  • Protein ratio. Breast milk protein is primarily whey proteins and casein. A child needs both types of protein, while proteins are easily digested, which cannot be said about casein. If baby food contains a lot of casein, it stays longer in the digestive tract, which can cause problems with the baby's stool.
  • The presence of additional functional elements in the composition - lutein, nucleotides, pre- and probiotics. The task of lutein is to protect vision from ultraviolet rays. Nucleotides are low molecular weight compounds that promote the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria in the intestines. And pre- and probiotics in the composition of infant formulas help to establish comfortable digestion.

When choosing complementary foods, pay attention to:

  • Age appropriate. It is important that in the diet of a child under three years of age who receives complementary foods, special children's products prevail - in their composition, the components are selected taking into account the age-related needs of the baby's body. It is impossible at an early age to transfer children to "adult" foods like pickles, smoked foods, fast food, and so on.
  • For fortified foods. It is important that the composition contains vitamins and minerals. The National Child Nutrition Optimization Program recommends choosing complementary foods that contain elements designed to prevent anemia, rickets, and vitamin deficiencies.
  • For a varied diet. The menu for a baby up to six months is quite monotonous. But as they grow older, the baby needs more various nutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals.
  • To the individual reaction of the baby. If the child is already receiving complementary foods, then it is worth introducing a new product only after the previous one has been fully introduced. If the baby is allergic to the product, then it should be administered carefully, carefully checking the reaction of the body.

Ingredient safety testing is optional. Of course, the content of any "chemistry" in the product for feeding a child, whether it be a mixture or complementary foods, is unacceptable. There is no need to worry about this: baby food is carefully checked. If it is registered on the territory of the Customs Union and hit the shelves, then it complies with SanPiN and there will be no "prohibited" components in its composition. Also, contrary to popular misconception, in Russia it is forbidden to use GMOs in children's products.


Baby food in jars (usually puree) has a short shelf life after opening because it does not contain preservatives. However, before the jar is opened, the products can stand for quite a long time on the shelves of stores or in the refrigerator at home. This is possible thanks to a special production technology, sterilization and vacuum packaging. If a soft pop is heard when opening the jar, this is a good sign: the puree is not spoiled. But products in jars with swollen lids or a protruding bottom should not be used: microorganisms already multiply in such food, it is not suitable for food.

Features of the choice of dairy products

It is necessary to choose dairy products for babies, following the doctor's recommendations. The specialist will take into account the health of the baby, especially if he is allergic to cow protein. In Russia, such an allergy occurs in 30–40% of children [6]. Such a reaction may occur due to hereditary predisposition and immaturity of the body. But most often, allergies go away when the child grows up.

Goat milk baby food may be a suitable option for young children with a predisposition to allergies. Its protein is perceived by the body better than cow's: alpha-s1-casein, contained in large quantities in cow's milk, makes a product based on it difficult to digest - food stagnates in the baby's gastrointestinal tract, motor skills are disturbed, as a result, allergies often occur. In goat milk, as in breast milk, there is practically no alpha-s1-casein [7]. Therefore, goat's milk, and hence the mixture based on it, are better absorbed.

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