what do baby penguins eat

What Do Baby Penguins Eat?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

Are you wondering what baby penguins eat? In this review, we will discuss the foods that baby penguins eat as well as everything else you need to know.

What Do Baby Penguins Eat?

Adult or parent penguins feed their babies what they eat. There are three primary kinds of food that penguins eat, they are;


Most penguins feed on small fishes like codfish, lanternfish, cuttlefish, sardines, and antarctic silverfish. 

However, some species of penguins eat more fish than others. For example, emperor and king penguins eat more fish than other penguin species. About 90% of an emperor penguin’s diet is made of fish.

Each penguin species has a preferred fish that they eat to reduce competition among them for survival. For instance, an emperor penguin feeds more on antarctic silver bird fish.

A parent penguin of any species will feed its baby the preferred type of fish.

Hence, a baby emperor penguin, for example, will eat more antarctic silverfish than others. An emperor penguin will have to eat about 6kg of silverfish to have enough in store for its chick.

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Shrimp and Krill

Shrimp and krill make up a large percentage of food for most penguin species. Hence, baby penguins also eat shrimp and krill. They can eat them as often as their parents feed them. 

Krill has high-quality protein content. It is also rich in omega-3 which provides baby penguins and adults with warm body temperatures to survive the cold sea. Moreover, Krill is rich in antioxidants that help baby penguins fight diseases.

Meanwhile, shrimps contain vitamin B-12 and high protein too. This combination is essential to help the baby penguins grow healthily. 


Squids are mostly found during the summer season. Therefore, it becomes the preferred food choice for most penguin species during the summer season. 

Thankfully, baby penguins find it satisfying to eat. When a baby penguin eats 4 kg of squid, it can go for one hour without needing food.  

Another advantage of squid is that it has no carbohydrate content. It is also a good source of vitamins.

Can Baby Penguins Hunt Food For Themselves?

Baby penguins can not hunt food for themselves. They are small, weak, and clueless about the survival pattern of their habitat.

Another reason they can not hunt by themselves is to protect themselves from being preyed on by predators. Moreover, baby penguins lack the strength to swim long distances in search of food.

Hence, the parent penguins hunt the food and bring it to the nest for the baby penguins to eat.

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How Do Baby Penguins Feed?

The feeding of baby penguins is solely the responsibility of the parent penguins. Baby penguins neither hunt for food nor feed themselves.

Penguins have two stomach chambers. Therefore, when a parent penguin catches prey, it eats it and temporarily stores it in its first stomach chamber.

A few hours after the food is well digested, the food is regurgitated. The parent penguin will then use its beak to feed the mushed food to its chick.

How Long Does It Take A Baby Penguin To Swim?

Baby penguins can not survive in water until their fluffy feather covering fades off. This usually takes about four months for most species. 

After those four months, their feathers become waterproof, and then they are ready to swim. This stage is called Juvenile plumage. 

How Do Penguin Eggs Look?

A vast majority of penguin specie lay either white or gray color eggs. Meanwhile, some species lay eggs that have tints of green or blue color. 

Penguins that lay their eggs at the male’s feet have pear-shaped eggs. Meanwhile, those that build nests lay eggs that have round shapes. 

The pear shape of the egg prevents it from rolling away if it falls off its parent’s feet. For emperor penguins, their eggs weigh between 315 and 415 grams. 

Meanwhile, other smaller penguins lay smaller eggs weighing between 56 and 140 grams.


Baby penguins eat what adult penguins eat. The only difference is that they can’t hunt for their food and they can’t eat by themselves.

The parent penguin regurgitates the food and uses its beak as a spoon to feed the baby penguin.

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