Feeding your baby starts a few hours after birth, and it helps the baby to grow strong and healthy. As the baby grows, the feeding pattern and behavior will change. As a new parent, you should understand all the baby feeding principles to help you feed your baby.
At an early age after birth, newborns survive on either breast milk or formula. Breast milk is always the best food at that age. But if you are formula feeding your baby, you need to buy a formula that will work best for your baby. After reading this guide, you will get to understand the basics of feeding your baby right from birth to the weaning stage.
Breastfeeding Your Baby
During the first six months after birth, breast milk is always the best food to offer your baby. New parents may find it hard to maintain comfortable breastfeeding. But with time, they can learn how to feed their babies without difficulty.
As a new parent, you can ask a breastfeeding peer counselor to give you some feeding tips. You can also get help from other people such as a lactation consultant or your doctor. Sometimes you will need to attend breastfeeding classes to gain feeding skills.
Why Breast Milk is the Best
- Rich in Antibodies: Breast milk is rich in antibodies that will protect your baby from infections and illnesses. Babies fed on breast milk rarely fall sick compared to the ones who do not.
- Rich in Hormones and Nutrients: Breast milk is rich in hormones and nutrients that can help your baby grow and develop fast. Such nutrients include digestible proteins, vitamins, and fats.
- Rich in Fatty Acids: Fatty acids play a significant role in promoting healthy brain development in your baby. Fatty acids in breast milk reduce the risks of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Easy to Digest: A newborn’s stomach can easily digest breast milk. Babies fed on breast milk experience little to no stomach pains.
- Has No Allergens: Babies feeding on breast milk are less likely to develop allergies as compared to babies feeding on formula.
- Protect Your Baby Against Obesity: Breastfed babies always gain healthy weights when growing. Breast milk has essential elements that prevent your baby from becoming overweight.
As your baby grows, the content of breast milk changes naturally. For instance, the first breast milk (colostrum) produced a few days after birth is rich in antibodies and nutrients. The nutrients play a significant role in your baby’s growth and development. The disadvantage of breastfeeding is that it demands a lot of commitment from the mother. You will have to feed the baby after every two to three hours.
If you are going to work, you may pump some breast milk and leave it with your baby’s caregiver to feed the baby later. Alternatively, the caregiver can formula feed your baby.
Formula Feeding Your Baby
Breast milk works best for newborns. However, some moms do not breastfeed their babies due to some reasons. If you are one of such moms, an alternative way is to formula feed the baby. In many cases, the formula comes in a powder form. All you need to do is to mix it with water as recommended by your pediatrician. Newborns always take between two to three ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours.
Choosing the Best Formula
Formula Feeding Tips
Disadvantages of Formula Feeding
Feeding Your Baby on Solid Foods
At six months of age, your baby may start feeding on solid foods. The breast milk or formula intake reduces at that age. When introducing solid foods to your growing baby, ensure that they are pureed or mashed to gain a soft texture.
When feeding your baby solid foods, you should continue breastfeeding your baby up to one year of age. Breastfeeding at that time ensures that the baby gets all the essential nutrients. However, you should offer little amounts of breast milk as your child grows to encourage solid foods intake.
As the baby grows, the types of solid foods that you offer change every month. When your baby starts showing signs of solid food intake at six months of age, you should provide baby cereals mixed with breast milk. Between 6 to 8 months of age, you can feed the baby solid foods such as mashed fruits and vegetables, mashed potatoes, and pureed meat. You should still include breast milk in the diet at that age.
Between 9 to 12 months of age, the baby can sit up without your support and can hold feeding items such as a spoon. The baby’s stomach can now digest finger foods like soft vegetables, and cereals. You can also cut small pieces of bananas for your baby to eat.