Feeding your baby may sound like a simple task, but it can be stressful. All new parents question whether they are feeding their baby correctly or if their baby is getting enough food. From the moment your baby arrives and throughout their first year, food is and continues to be an integral part of each day.
New parents are faced with many decisions about feeding their baby and are often caught in the middle of conflicting and sometimes confusing advice. What worked for your mother or grandmother may not work for you. It may be viewed as unhealthy or dangerous today. Conflicting information regarding the "right choice" can be very stressful. It is important to talk to those you trust who have gone before, but also consult with your doctor, and decide what works best for you and your baby.
Luckily, for the first 6 months of your baby's life, the only item on the menu is breast milk or infant formula. Your baby will get all the vitamins and nutrients they need from breast milk or an iron fortified infant formula for those first six months. There is no need to supplement with water, juice, milk, or cereal.
The decision to breast feed or bottle feed is often a stressful one. There are pros and cons to both. Breastfeeding is the best choice for your baby. Some mothers choose not to, or sometimes it doesn't work out and you have to switch to bottles. Ultimately, the choice is yours, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.
One of the main worries with new parents is whether their baby is getting enough breast milk or infant formula. They often compare how often their baby feeds to other babies. Babies have different feeding patterns. Babies often want to feed every two to six hours. Breast fed babies feed more often than bottle fed babies.
If your baby is asleep during a normal feeding time, you can gently wake your baby to feed. Gently rub your nipple or bottle nipple on your baby's check and lips to stimulate your baby's rooting reflex and feeding will start on its own. Don't worry about how often your baby is feeding. As long as your baby is gaining weight and is having 3-4 stools and 6-8 wet diapers a day, your baby is getting enough food.
At around 4-6 months you can start to introduce solid baby food if your baby seems interested. A baby's digestive system is not really ready for solid foods before 6 months. If your baby shows no interest in solid foods at 4 months, there is no hurry. Every baby is different. Waiting until your baby is ready can reduce the risk of allergy development or allergic reaction and shortens the transition time between spoon-feeding and self-feeding.
Breast, bottles, burp cloths, spit up, bibs, messy faces, and food on the floor and walls are all part of feeding a baby in their first year. It may be difficult and trying in those early months as you learn the basics and get into a rhythm. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. A little time and a little practice is all it takes before you discover the true joy of feeding your baby and the bonding experience it can be.