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Feeding Tips

Breastfeeding Goals

Feeding your newborn is a great opportunity to bond with your baby. Try to enjoy every mealtime. For the first few months, you should be feeding your baby breast milk or infant formula only, as these are the best nutrition for the newborn infant. Do not give any solid food in the first months.

Making sure that feeding is enjoyable for you and the baby is important. Pick a comfortable place to sit and relax with the baby while you feed your baby. Be sure that you are holding your bottle-fed baby propped in your arms. Feeding is a time to hold and enjoy your infant and the interaction of feeding should be pleasurable.

Breastfeeding moms might want to have a cup of water handy and a pillow on their laps to make positioning easy and to quench thirst that often happens when you start to breastfeed. Newborns feed frequently, and this is normal. Remember that breastfeeding is comfort as well as food, so feeding often is OK for settling a baby that has already fed. It is difficult to overfeed a breastfed baby.

Here are some tips on feeding your baby:

Positioning

If you are bottle-feeding, hold your baby and talk to him or her. Do not lay your baby down and never prop the bottle in position. Infants need to be held and cuddled during feeding and should never be left propped with a bottle.

Breastfed babies can be held in your lap or in the "football" hold, with the baby’s legs at your side, perhaps on a pillow. Many breastfeeding mothers like feeding in bed with the infant rolled towards you.

Burping

Your baby will probably swallow some air while feeding. This could cause him or her to spit up or become fussy, so it is important to burp your child after every feeding. To burp your baby, sit or hold the baby against your chest or shoulder, and pat gently on the back. Each baby, whether breast- or bottle-fed, is different. You will, with time, learn to recognize your own infant’s needs. Breastfed babies, less often, but sometimes need burping.

How do I know my baby is eating enough?

If your baby is wetting lots of diapers with dilute urine, then your infant is likely getting enough to eat. Regular check-ups will help determine if your baby is getting enough because a weight will be checked at each visit.

If your baby is not gaining the proper weight, you likely will need to increase the milk given to the baby. This will be by increasing the amount or frequency of formula feedings or for the breastfed infant: to increase the frequency and or length of breastfeeding. The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. Breastfed infants often nurse every 2 to 2 ½ hours in the first weeks. If you give the breastfed infant formula you will actually decrease your milk supply. If you have any concern at all, contact your doctor so that your baby does not run the risk of becoming dehydrated.

As your baby grows, you might have some concerns about what to feed at certain stages of life. Every baby develops differently, so consult your child's doctor before starting your baby on solid foods.

When can I give my baby solid food?

Solid foods are usually introduced into a baby’s diet between four and five months, depending on what your child's doctor says. If you start your baby on solid foods too early, there is a greater chance of developing a food allergy and the infant may not grow as well.

When it is time to start solids

  • Give your baby one solid food at a time for a few days to help determine if he or she is allergic to any of the foods.
  • Start your baby on iron-fortified infant cereal, and then slowly add fruits, vegetables, and meats.
  • Feed your baby small amounts of food at first. Start with just a teaspoon and build from there.
  • Prepare mashed foods such as sweet potatoes, applesauce, carrots, bananas, and peaches. It is always best to give your baby a variety of foods so he or she gets the proper nutrients.

What foods should I avoid giving my baby?

Until your baby is 1 year old, it is best to avoid certain foods. Some of these foods include: honey, whole eggs, nuts, shellfish, plain cow’s milk, and foods with seeds.

How do I know when my baby is full?

You will know if your baby is full if he or she turns away from the food or spits it back out.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/10/2010...#12261