From growth to brain development, so much depends on what our children eat. Feeding a newborn is a round-the-clock commitment and nutritional needs continue to expand as your baby ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that breastfeeding is best for infants, as breast milk contains a nutritional blend of fatty acids, amino acids, lactose, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. If breast feeding isn’t possible, infant formula is an excellent source of essential nutrients for infants.
Babies only need breast milk or formula for complete nutrition for the first six months of life. Since breast milk is digested more rapidly than cow’s milk formula, breastfed infants require feedings every 1 to 3 hours. Formula-fed infants generally require feedings every 2 to 4 hours. Look for signs of hunger besides the usual fussing or crying. Infants may also make sucking motions or lip movements when hungry, and stop sucking or turn away from the breast or bottle when full.
New parents often worry that their newborn isn’t eating enough. Instead of focusing on how often or how much your baby eats, look for other signs of good nutrition. Babies who are steadily gaining weight, content between feedings and have at least six wet diapers and three or more bowel movements a day are usually getting enough nutrition. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding or if you’re concerned about your baby’s health, ask a lactation consultant and talk to your baby’s pediatrician.
While there’s no exact time when your baby should begin solid foods, the March of Dimes recommends introducing solids between 4 and 6 months of age. Look for signs that your baby is ready to try solid foods, including proper head control, losing the extrusion reflex and sitting well when supported. Iron-fortified, single-grain cereal, such as rice cereal or oatmeal, are easy to digest and are common first baby foods. In addition to baby cereal, babies who respond well to solids can try pureed fruits and vegetables.
Starting Real Food
Up until 7 to 10 months, your baby has been happily eating mush. Soon, your baby may begin showing signs that he or she is ready for “real” foods, such as picking off of your plate at dinner time. Great first choices for lumpier foods include well-cooked pasta, strips of toast, small bites of soft fruit, and well-cooked chopped vegetables. Avoid foods that could pose as choking hazards, such as grapes, nuts, raisins, and hot dogs. By 10 to 12 months of age, your baby may insist on feeding himself.
During the first year of life, babies triple their birth weight and increase in length by 50 percent. Make that first year count by introducing your child to healthy foods and providing optimal nutrition. Remember that food plays a vital role in all aspects of your baby’s development, including social, emotional and cognitive growth and well-being.
Be sure to read some of our other survival tips for new moms for these subjects below. Please also visit our store to see some of the adorable outfits and baby bling that we have for your baby.