Protein and night wakings in babies older than 6 months

Your baby needs only milk (either breast milk or formula milk) as his main source of nutrition for the first few months of age. Some babies need the addition of some solid food from age of about 6 months or older, and that is usually when one introduces some cereal, vegetables and fruit.

So, let us look at what happens when your baby reaches this magical age, of saying “goodbye” to being a small infant, and starts to enter the world of being an “older baby”! Your baby is now a real little person, sitting up and reaching out, laughing and chuckling and is starting to show a real interest in food.

This is the time when the main nutrition is derived from solid food, and the emphasis from breast / formula milk moves.

Your baby now needs PROTEIN in his / her diet. Protein builds healthy bones and tissue, and is vital for the growth and development of all children. Protein is also filling, so if your baby is still waking at night for feeds, the chances are that he is not getting adequate protein in his diet during the day.

Follow these simple guidelines towards increasing his protein intake, and night feedings will become a long distant memory!

Your baby’s minimum protein needs in his solid food is calculated on approximately 1g (1 serving) of protein per kg of body weight. The average 6 month baby weighs in the region of 6 – 9kg, so he will need a minimum of 6-10 servings per day, divided into his 3 meals..

Try and incorporate 2 – 4 servings of protein per meal.

1 serving = 1 heaped teaspoon, or a liberal pinch (approx 1g).

Remember to always include a variety of fruit and vegetables into his diet, as well as carbohydrates e.g. Cereal or porridge, or pasta, potato or rice.

Your little one also needs to start taking a daily iron supplement. Babies are born with iron stores, but by the age of 6 months, they have used them all up! It is important to add an iron supplement to his diet from now on. Ask your clinic sister or pharmacist to recommend one.

Protein can be derived from either vegetable or animal sources, so it is really up to you what proteins you would like to start incorporating into his diet (see list below). Your little one will also let you know what his preferences are, so be guided by his likes and dislikes too!

Vegetable Protein:Animal Protein:
Avocado PearYogurt (plain white variety)
Cashnut butter/ Macnut butterCottage Cheese
Ground AlmondsCrème Cheese (Kiri, laughing Cow, Danino soft cheese etc)
Peanut ButterGrated hard white cheese (mozarella, tussers etc)
LentilsButter (not margarine)
SampEgg (yolk to start, 4-5 per week / whites only from 9 mths of age)
Soya beans / tofuTuna fish
Sugar BeansPilchards / Sardines / Salmon / Hake / Kingklip
BarleyChicken / livers (free range)
Mung BeansTopside mince or grated biltong
White kidney beansOstrich / Lamb
Chick PeasTurkey or Veal
Sesame/sunflower/pumpkin/linseed seeds
Tahini (sesame extract)
Butter beans / baked beans


  • All nuts
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Eggs
  • Fish


06.00 : Breast / Formula Feed

08.00 : BREAKFAST:

Cereal / Porridge – Oats, Mealie Meal, Taystee Wheat, Mabella, Millett etc.

Add 2 – 3 proteins e.g. cottage cheese / peanut butter / milk / Tahini / yogurt / almonds / dates etc.

OR – Egg

OR – Fresh fruit, yogurt and ground almonds / date paste

10.00 : Diluted juice and Snack

12.00 : LUNCH :

Avo mashed with soft cheese and banana.

OR – Pasta, potato, mabella, corn, rice / fish bake, with white or cheese sauce, cottage cheese etc.

OR – Egg

OR – Veggie / bean soup and bread

OR – Fresh fruit, yoghurt and almonds / date paste

2pm: Breast / Formula feed

3 – 4 pm: Diluted juice and Snack

5 pm: DINNER: Chicken Broth and veggies

Bath, Breast / Formula Feed, Bed!

On this diet, baby is quite capable of going for 10 – 12 hours at night without needing nourishment.


By Meg Faure