Dropping milk feeds from 7-9 months

As your baby’s appetite for solids increases, he’ll start to need less milk, so how and when should you drop a feed?

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As weaning progresses, your baby is developing a greater appetite for solids by the day, but until he’s a year old, the bulk of his nutrition and calories will still come from breastmilk or formula.

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How much he takes can vary from day to day, depending on how much solid food he eats, but you’ll need to make sure that he’s still having regular milk feeds, even once he’s on three meals a day.

How much milk does your baby need?

Your baby needs a minimum of 16-20 ounces (500-600ml) of formula milk a day, or regular breastfeeds.  See our guide to drinks for your baby at 7-9 months.

Is your baby ready to drop a milk feed?

Once your baby is enjoying three meals a day, he’ll probably be ready to drop a milk feed. This is usually around seven to nine months, although it varies from child to child. Mums tend to drop the midday feed first, as it’s easily replaced by lunch.

If your baby is now eating a decent amount at lunchtime, offer him solids before his milk feed. You’ll know when he’s ready to drop the feed, as he’ll start to take less of it, or not want it at all.

How to drop a milk feed

This will depend on your baby. Some just naturally refuse milk feeds at lunchtime, while others will gradually take less and less milk until you stop offering it completely. There’s no harm in continuing to give him his lunchtime milk if he wants it, as long as he’s eating a decent amount of solid food too, but if you’re keen to drop the feed, try offering him milk or water in a cup with his lunch instead.

Remember that if your baby is poorly or teething, he may lose his appetite for solids and want more milk, particularly if he’s breastfed, as he’ll crave the comfort. Don’t force solids on him in this case; just wait until he’s feeling better.

What if he tries to drop the ‘wrong’ milk feed?

It doesn’t really matter which daytime feed your baby drops first. For most babies, the lunchtime milk is the first to go, but some may go off their breakfast or afternoon feed first. Be guided by your baby, and just make sure that if he does drop a feed, you replace it with a drink of milk or water in a cup and a healthy snack.

Some babies start by dropping their bedtime feed, and then end up waking at night because they are hungry. If this happens, try bringing your baby’s solid tea forward – perhaps to 4pm – so that he’s hungry again by bedtime and will take a full bottle or breastfeed.

Your baby’s typical daily meal plan

On waking: 7oz milk or breastfeed
Breakfast: Cereal or porridge, fruit, 4oz milk or breastfeed
Lunch: Pureed chicken, mashed potatoes and veg, fruit pudding, water
Mid-afternoon: 4oz milk or breastfeed and a snack such as fruit slices or rice cakes
Dinner: vegetables, pasta and cheese sauce, mashed fruit and yogurt
Bedtime: 7oz milk

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All babies vary enormously, so use this information only as a guide. If you have any concerns about the amount of milk your baby is drinking, talk to your health visitor or doctor.

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