The first year is very important for your baby. The food she eats will support her development and growth. Babies who are breastfeeding will feed between 8 and 12 times a day. If you are formula feeding, your infant may eat between 6 and 10 times. You can introduce some solid foods when she is around 6 months.

Most doctors will tell you that breastfeeding is always best for infants. But sometimes, a mom cannot breastfeed for a variety of reasons. For example, she may have to take medications, her milk supply may be delayed, or the new mom might have to return to work after her prolonged absence. Also, the baby may face problems in sucking from the nipple.

Don’t worry if you cannot breastfeed. Many modern-day formula milk products are very good. For example, HIPP Formula from Germany contains both prebiotics and probiotics. It is made with special formulas for babies with special digestive needs. This formula milk is very good for those with irregular digestion caused by colic, gas, constipation. HIPP does not contain any synthetic or harmful products that can affect her growth and development.

Feeding the Baby in the First Year

Nutrition is very important in the first year. Also, if you introduce good eating habits early in her life, it is likely that a healthy eating pattern will be set throughout her life. But remember, the feeding should be based on her readiness, developmental age, and feeding skills

How Often Should You Feed.

As a general rule, you need to breastfeed between 8 and 12 times or formula feed between 6 and 10 times a day. But there can be exceptions because each infant is different.

Babies can understand when they feel hungry or full. You must feed whenever she is hungry. If you are breastfeeding, give her each breast for 10 to 15 minutes every time, which means, between 20 to 30 minutes in total. If you are formula feeding, don’t feed more than 10 times, including the overnight feeds. Some parents will add foods like rice cereal to the bottle to make the infant sleep at night. Don’t do this as this might cause obesity at a very young age. It can also cause choking.

Most infants will drink less as they start eating solids. Increase the solid food amount slowly, while reducing the amount of formula or breast milk.

How to Know Whether the Baby Is Full or Hungry

Babies will be fussy or they will cry when they are tired, uncomfortable, upset, require a diaper change, and also when they are hungry.

Here are some signs that your infant is feeling hungry – 

  • She is reaching out for the bottle or your breast
  • She is smacking her lips
  • She is moving her hands to her mouth
  • She is pointing towards food, spoon, or your hand

Infants can get upset when you miss the hunger cue. This can cause crying or fussing. So, try to catch the hunger cue. This will make the feedings more enjoyable both for you and the baby.

Signs that your infant had enough food –

  • She may fall asleep
  • She can pull away from your breast, the spoon, or bottle
  • She may shake her head, change position, or keep her mouth closed
  • The infant may even hand back the food to you

How to Know If She Is Ready for Solid Food

Usually, babies who are formula feeding are ready earlier for solids – between 4 and 6 months. On the other hand, solid foods should be introduced to breastfeeding infants at around 6 months.

Here are some signs that will tell you that it is time for the solids – 

  • She has good head control
  • She can sit upright on her own without much support
  • She is showing interest in the food you are eating
  • The infant is asking for more food, even after you have given her enough, whether breastfeeding or formula feeding
  • She is opening her mouth readily and accepting the spoon

If the infant has any special needs, then it is always best to speak with a therapist or your childcare provider before deciding. You must always seek a professional opinion in case the baby was born pre-mature.

Essential Baby Feeding Tips

  • When introducing solid foods, always start with small amounts. Start with a small teaspoon and then go up to a tablespoon.
  • Always start with dry infant cereal rice. Mix it up as directed. After this, introduce vegetables, fruits, and meats, in this order.
  • Don’t introduce more than “one ingredient” at a time. Give it between 3 and 5 days before introducing a second food. First, find out whether she is having an allergic reaction to the food, like a rash, diarrhea, or vomiting. Stop the food if you see any of this. Approach the pediatrician for help.
  • There are more nutrients in each serving of vegetables and meats, compared to cereals and fruits.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that infants below the age of a year should not consume fruit juices. For older babies, you should only give them 100% fruit juices without any added sugar. However, you must limit this to 4 ounces for a day. Make sure to always dilute the juice with water before feeding.
  • Babies who are healthy don’t usually need extra water. You can make an exception when it gets really hot. But do give extra water when you are introducing solid food.
  • Your baby may bring her hands to her mouth when she is between 9 and 12 months old. At this time, reduce the amount of baby/mashed food slowly. Offer more finger foods. Most babies will start to self-feed around this time. They will usually start spoon or fork feeding after a year. Always cut the food into small pieces. This will prevent a choking hazard.
  • Each mealtime should be between 15 and 20 minutes. Make sure to reduce distractions, like watching television.
  • Good foods for the infant include those rich in protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins, such as poultry, meat, vegetables, colorful fruits, and fish.

As a parent, you have to be careful about what you are feeding to the infant. You must also focus on how you are doing the feeding. Breastmilk is always good at an early age. It is also doctor-recommended. Don’t worry if you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason. Many modern-day formula milk products are also healthy. They are adequate for the growth and development of infants.

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