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This Month In Life
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  • Baby Feeding Basics
    New parents often have a lot of questions about breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and starting solids. While your pediatrician is your best resource for questions about feeding, here are a few basics to remind you what you’ve heard. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Baby Feeding Basics

What you should feed your baby during the first year.

A baby’s first year for first-time parents can be a confusing time, as babies don’t come with user manuals. A big part of parenting is learning as you go and having fun while you’re at it. How to sooth a crying baby, get a baby to sleep, and feed a baby are a few things parents must figure out.

New parents often have a lot of questions about breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and starting solids. While your pediatrician is your best resource for questions about feeding, here are a few basics to remind you what you’ve heard.

Breast Is Best

Whether to feed via breast or bottle is a question every new mother must answer. It’s a personal decision that is based on many factors, but for mothers trying to decide, it’s good to remember that breast is best. If possible, health experts recommend that babies eat only breast milk for the first six months of life.

That’s because all the nutrition a baby needs for healthy physical and mental development is found in breast milk. Easily digested, breast milk contains the mother’s antibodies to help protect the baby from bacteria, viruses, allergies, asthma, and other illnesses. Breastfeeding is also best for the mother’s health and is completely free.

While still in the hospital, take advantage of the expertise of the nurse and lactation consultant to help you and your baby learn how to breastfeed. During the first few weeks, your baby will need to nurse at least every two hours. Some babies nurse for five minutes, others take 45 minutes. Keep in mind that they usually become more efficient as they get older.

Since you can’t see how many ounces your baby is drinking, you may question whether baby gets enough to eat. Signs that your baby is getting enough milk include seeming satisfied after feedings, gaining weight appropriately, and filling diapers each day.

Bottle-Feeding

Some women choose to feed their babies formula. This is a more convenient option for new moms who have to go back to work or don’t have the time or flexibility in their schedule to breastfeed. It’s a necessity for those who have a medical condition that makes it difficult to breastfeed.

Fortunately, today’s formula is better for baby than ever, and is designed to provide babies with all the nutrition they need for healthy development. With bottles, dad can get in on the feedings, and bottle-fed babies may not need to be fed as frequently.

However, formula has its downsides. Babies fed exclusively on formula may deal with more gas or constipation than breastfed babies. Also, formula isn’t cheap, and parents must plan ahead to make sure they have enough formula and clean bottles on hand before going anywhere. Expect to pay roughly $1,500.00 on basic formula in the first year. Specialty formulas for babies allergic to dairy or other proteins can be much more expensive.

Solid Foods

Following months of bottle- or breast-feeding, it’s an exciting day when baby starts eating solids. Doctors recommend that little ones not eat solid foods until reaching six months of age. While you should slowly introduce different solid foods into baby’s diet before reaching a year of age, continue breast feeding or bottle-feeding until your baby is at least 1 year old.

At baby goes through the first year, look for signs that he’s ready for solids. Can he sit with support, hold his head up, or put his hands or toys in his mouth? Does he show interest in your food? Positive answers mean he may be ready for solids.

When you notice these signs, start with a tablespoon of baby cereal mixed with four tablespoons of breast milk or formula. After this, it’s safe to begin introducing a new food every three or four days. As you do this, watch for signs of allergic reaction to protect against negative reactions. After cereal, move on to single-ingredient pureed fruits, vegetables, and meat.

At age 8 to 10 months, she should be ready for small, soft, chopped pieces of finger foods such as pasta, fruits, vegetables, crackers, cheese, cereal, and eggs. Before you know it, she’ll be eating all on her own!

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