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  • Grain/bread, and

  • Meat/meat alternates.

As described below, the combination of meal components differs for breakfast, lunch/supper, and snacks; the minimum required amounts of the meal components differ by age group and, for children and adults, by eating occasion.

Meal Pattern Descriptions

Meal patterns for infants differ markedly from those for children and adults, as shown below.

Infants The current infant lunch/supper meal patterns appear in Table 2-4. Ranges are given because of the wide variability in infants’ needs based on developmental stage and readiness for foods.

Children and adults For children, a general description of the current minimums required in the meal and snack patterns follows. The general meal pattern description for adults is identical to the list given below except that a serving of milk is not required at supper.

TABLE 2-4 Current Infant Meal Pattern for Lunch or Supper

Food Components

Birth through 3 Months

4–7 Months

8–11 Months

Formulaa or breast milkb,c (fl oz)




Infant cereala,d (T)




Fruit or vegetable or both (T)




Meat or meat alternated




Meat, fish, poultry, egg yolk, cooked dry beans or peas (T)




Cheese (oz)




Cottage cheese (oz, volume)




Cheese food or cheese spread (oz, weight)




NOTE: fl oz = fluid ounce; oz = ounce; T = tablespoon.

aInfant formula and dry cereal must be iron-fortified.

bBreast milk or formula, or portions of both, may be served; however, breast milk is recommended from birth through 11 months.

cFor some breastfed infants who regularly consume less than the minimum amount of breast milk per feeding, a serving of less than the minimum amount of breast milk may be offered, with additional breast milk offered if the infant is still hungry.

dMenu may include infant cereal, a meat/meat alternate, or both.

eA serving of this component is required when the infant is developmentally ready to accept it.

SOURCE: Adapted from USDA/FNS, 2010a.

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