What are the common guidelines for feeding your baby?
We know how important food is in everyone’s life. It gives you strength and provides you with the appropriate amount of nutrients that your body needs. During the months of infancy and early childhood, feeding is very important for your baby to grow properly, gain strength and ensure good health and development to their full potential.
Poor intake of nutrients may lead to your baby’s weak health and sometimes malnourishment too. The first two years of your baby’s life is very vital, as it lays down the base for the growth and development of your baby in the later years.
Feeding is important!
Proper feeding in the first year of your baby’s life is very important, that is when your baby grows the most. Apart from being breastfed or bottle-fed, it is very important to start with solid food after 6 months. It is necessary that you make appropriate food choices for them.
Breastfeeding your child comes with many benefits. It imparts the required nutrients for the growth and development of your baby and also provides immunity to combat diseases and infections. Moreover, it establishes a sense of belongingness between you and your baby. It is recommended to breastfeed your baby, till they attain 6 months of their age to the minimum. But due to some reasons, some mothers decide on bottle-feeding their baby.
Nowadays formula milk also contains a similar amount of nutrients as breast milk does. Whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed is entirely a mother’s decision.
From their birth, until they attain the age of 6 months, they feed only on breast milk or bottle milk. Apart from that nothing should be given to babies till they reach 6 months of their age. In the initial months, your baby might want to be breastfed after every 2-3 hours.
The best way is to follow your baby’s cues while feeding them. Don’t force feed them, instead of letting them decide, how much they want to be fed. Look for readiness to hunger or signs of crying and fussing. If your baby is being bottle-fed, in the first month, the number of feedings is more, but the intake is up to 2-4 ounces.
In 2-3 months the number of feeding per day decreases to 5-6 times and the amount of milk increases 6 ounces. From the fourth month till the sixth month, the number of feedings and the amount remains pretty much stable with up to 5-6 ounces and 5-6 feedings per day.
6 Months and after
At 6 months your baby’s digestive tract is ready to consume solid or semi-solid food, but it must be complementary with breast milk or bottle-milk. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding shouldn’t be stopped, instead, solid food should be given along with it. Initially, the intake of solid food can be overwhelming for your baby.
Start with a small amount of food and then increase the amount. Let your baby get acquainted with the new taste and texture. You can start with some cereal, which is properly mashed and soft. Your baby might create a fuss while eating it, don’t try and force feed him instead of giving him some time and then continue. Keep feeding the same food item for a few days before introducing something new to them. You can give them pureed vegetables or fruits and semi-solid cereals.
Refrain from using salts or sugar. Let them try and eat or play with their food. It increases their hand and arms movements and also gives them a feel of the texture of their food. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding shouldn’t stop, but it reduces comparatively.
Tips to feed your baby
Burping: Your baby might spit while feeding due to air trapped within. It is important to burp your baby after they are fed or before they sleep to relieve them of the inconvenience.
Follow their cues: It is very necessary to follow your baby’s cues, instead of force-feeding them. Look for signs of hunger or their wailing or fussing. Feeding them forcefully might lead to spitting or vomiting their food.
Don’t start soon: It’s advisable to wait until 6 months to start with solid food. You should not rush for it. Your baby’s body needs to be ready to digest solid food. Consult your doctor if you are in a dilemma.
Solid Food: Take your time while feeding solid food. Your baby might take time to accept this new change. Let your baby get adjusted to the intake of solid food.
Introducing new food: Give a gap of a few days, before introducing a new food item to your baby. They require time to get habituated with one and once they do, you are free to introduce something new. Don’t force something if your baby doesn’t want to eat it.
Making a mess: Don’t worry if your child makes a mess while eating. This is their learning stage and this is how they learn and grow. While making a mess, they get to touch and feel different textures.
Eat on their own: Encourage them to pick up food on their own and to eat by themselves. It instills independence and confidence.
Make it a game! Try and include fun activities while feeding, it helps in distracting them and makes feeding seem fun and enjoyable. They won’t be cranky or fuss over it.
Feeding your baby at the right time is very important. As a parent or caregiver, you must ensure your baby’s proper health by providing them with the appropriate nutrients. With proper feeding, shower your baby with love and warmth!