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Feeding a baby can be a daunting task, especially for new parents.
You may struggle with the best way to give your baby the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
Whether you opt for breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or both, your baby will need to eat at least 8-12 times a day.
So it will help if you create a feeding routine and follow it.
After four months of age, you can start giving your baby solid foods.
If you are still unsure of how to feed your baby or you run into issues, speak to your doctor or midwife for guidance.
Breastfeeding a Baby
Sit in a comfortable chair or in bed.
Make the setting for breastfeeding comfortable and calming for both you and your baby.
Position pillows behind your neck and back.
Sit in a chair or on a bed that is soft and padded so you are comfortable remaining in place while your baby feeds.
Cradle your baby.
Put the baby on your forearm with their head in the crook of your arm.
Use your other hand to support their bottom.
Their belly should touch your belly and their ear, shoulder, and hip should form a straight line.
You can then raise your baby up to your breast for feeding.
This is the standard hold for breastfeeding.
Use the football cradle if you have had a C-section.
To do this hold, place your baby on a pillow tucked close to your side.
Place your arm on the pillow so you can bring your baby’s mouth up to your breast for feeding.
Try lying on your side if you want more support.
Lie on your side that you will be breastfeeding on.
Put your head on a pillow and bring your baby close to you.
Use your arm to support their bottom and your other hand to bring your breast to your baby’s mouth.
This is also a good option if you have had a C-section.
Put your thumb and fingers around your areola.
Then, tilt your baby’s head back and tickle their lips with your nipple until they open their mouth wide.
You can support your baby’s head with a pillow if you are in the cradle hold position.
You can use your hand to support your baby’s head if you are in the football cradle or are lying on your side.
Scoop your breast into your baby’s mouth.
Make sure it sits on your baby’s lower jaw.
Then, tilt their head forward until their upper jaw is latches onto your breast.
Your baby should take your entire nipple and at least 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of your areola in their mouth.
Allow your baby time to feed.
Gaze into their eyes as you feed them so you maintain a connection with them.
They may turn away from your nipple when they are full or need a break.
If your baby stops sucking or closes their mouth, this may be a sign they are done feeding.
Rub your baby’s back after the feeding.
Help your baby digest their milk by propping them up on your leg and gently rubbing their back.
You can also place them against your shoulder on their stomach and rub their back to help them digest.
This will also help any trapped air in their lungs escape, making them less gassy.
Wear a nursing bra to make feeding easier.
Nursing bras are designed to open up easily so you can breastfeed your baby as needed.
Look for nursing bras at your local maternity store or online.
Get a nursing bra that is comfortable and fits you properly.
You may get a few nursing bras so you can switch them out as needed.
Ask your doctor about vitamin D supplements if you are breastfeeding.
Breast milk may not provide enough vitamin D for your baby.
Vitamin D is important, as it helps your baby absorb calcium and phosphorus so they can have strong bones.
Your doctor may recommend you take Vitamin D supplements while you breastfeed.
Note the benefits and limitations of breastfeeding your baby.
Breast milk is made by the mother’s body to provide all the required nutrients for a baby, ensuring they get enough protein, lactose, and fat in their diet.
It also contains antibodies that can protect your baby from infectious diseases and issues like diarrhea and respiratory issues.
For these reasons, breastfeeding is usually recommended for newborn babies.
Breastfeeding is good for new mothers, as it helps to burn calories and shrink the mother’s uterus.
It also helps new mothers form a connection with their baby through skin-to-skin contact.
Breastfeeding may be ideal if you want to save money, as you do not need to buy formula.
It is readily available and does not need to be warmed up or prepared.
Some women have difficulty breastfeeding their baby due to the shape of their nipples or discomfort during breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is not for all mothers, as it can be physically exhausting and stressful.
Bottle-feeding a Baby
Buy formula for your baby at the grocery store or online. Get formula that is not expired.
Look for formula that contains protein, lactose, and fat.
Get several bottles and teats so you always have them on hand.
Look for clear plastic or glass bottles that have been sterilized.
Get teats that are made of rubber and are sterilized.
You can get feeding bottles and teats for babies at your local maternity store or online.
Get bottles that are simple, with no shapes or patterns. This will make them easier to clean.
Mix the formula in the bottle
Follow the instructions on the label. You will need to mix up the formula in the bottle.
Prepared formula can be used within 24 hours as long as it is stored in the refrigerator.
Do not give your baby any formula that has been out of refrigerator longer than one hour.
Warm up the formula under running water.
You can also warm it up by putting it in a pan of warm water.
Make sure you test the temperature on your wrist before you give it to your baby.
It should be warm, but not burning, to the touch.
Never warm up formula in the microwave, as this can heat it unevenly and cause the formula to burn your baby’s mouth.
You do not have to warm up the formula before giving it to your baby, but most babies prefer warm formula.
Sit in a comfortable position and place your baby in the crook of your arm.
Support their head in the crook of your arm and keep them close to your belly.
Make sure their head is upright so they can breathe and swallow comfortably.
Tilt the bottle so the teat is full of milk and give it to your baby.
Brush the teat against their lips until they open their mouth.
Then, allow your baby to draw the teat into their mouth.
Make sure the teat stays full of milk so your baby does not suck in air.
If the teat becomes too flat, use a clean finger to poke the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the suction.
Give your baby time to feed.
Look into their eyes as you feed them so you maintain a connection with them.
They may turn away from the bottle when they are full or need a break.
If your baby stops sucking or closes their mouth, this may be a sign they are done feeding.
Sit your baby up and rub their back after the feeding.
Prop them on your knee or against your shoulder on their stomach. Rub their back so they can digest.
They may burp or pass gas to help with digestion.
Throw away any remaining formula in the bottle.
Do not reuse the formula in the bottle or give it to your baby at a later date.
It may be contaminated.
Instead, throw the formula away and sterilize the bottle so you can use it again.
Sterilize the bottle by putting it in boiling water for five minutes.
Speak to your doctor if your baby vomits or becomes ill after feeding.
If this happens every time you feed your baby, ask your doctor for advice.
In some cases, your baby may be allergic to formula if they get sick after bottle feeding.
Your doctor can recommend special formula.
You may need to adjust how you are feeding your baby so they do not get ill.
If you are bottle feeding your baby, sometimes the hole in your baby’s teat is too big and allows your baby to drink the formula too fast, causing them to vomit.
Understand the benefits and limitations of bottle-feeding
Bottle-feeding means you give your baby formula in a bottle.
Formula is designed as a nutritious alternative to breast milk.
It gives new mothers more freedom and flexibility, as you do not have to always be the one feeding your baby.
You may also feel more comfortable feeding your baby formula in public.
You will need to have a regular supply of formula on hand and make sure you always pack it with you if you are on the go.
It can also be expensive to buy formula regularly.
Creating a Feeding Routine
Feed your baby every 2 to 3 hours.
Most newborn babies need to eat 8 to 12 times a day, or every 2 to 3 hours.
Create a schedule where you feed your baby at around the same time every day.
You do not need to be too strict about the feeding schedule, as long as your baby eats throughout the day.
Keep in mind your baby will consume different amounts of milk or formula as they grow.
They will have growth spurts where they may eat more or want to be fed more often.
Do not give your baby other fluids besides milk or formula.
Babies that are four months and younger do not need other liquids like water or juice.
Once your baby is four months and older, you can start to feed them a small amount of soft baby food.
Watch for signs your baby is hungry.
Your baby may stir and stretch when they are ready to eat. They may also make sucking motions and lip movements.
If your baby is fussy or crying, they are likely ready to eat.
Try to feed your baby right away if they are fussy, as this should soothe them right away.
Monitor your baby’s weight and bowel movements.
Don’t be too concerned that your baby isn’t eating enough, as they will usually consume as much as they need.
Make sure your baby has a steady weight gain and appears content between feedings.
They should also have at least six wet diapers and three or more bowel movements a day.
If your baby does not show much interest in eating, has irregular bowel movements, or isn’t gaining weight, speak to your doctor.
Talk to a midwife or doctor if you need help feeding your baby.
If you are struggling to feed your baby by breast or bottle, ask your midwife or doctor for advice.
Your midwife can show you different techniques for getting your baby to latch on when breastfeeding.
Your doctor can show you how to get your baby to accept a bottle.
You can also talk to a lactation consultant at your local medical clinic.
Feeding your baby may take some patience and practice to get right.
With the support of your doctor and your midwife, you should be able to find the right solution for your baby.
Introducing Solid Foods
Look for signs your baby is ready for solid foods.
Most babies can start having solid foods when they are four to six months old.
Babies who can hold their head up in an upright position and sit upright in a seat or highchair are usually ready for solid foods.
Your baby should also weigh at least double his birth weight and show curiosity about solid food by reaching for it or opening their mouth.
Babies who can move food to back of their mouth and swallow it, rather than use their tongue to push food out of their mouth, are ready for solid foods.
If you are not sure your baby is ready for solid foods, speak to your doctor or midwife for guidance.
Give your baby single ingredient soft food with no added sugar or salt.
Look for solid foods for babies at your local grocery store or online.
Make sure they contain one ingredient only and the food is pureed.
You can feed your baby pureed sweet potatoes, bananas, peaches, pears, squash, and apples.
Read the ingredients label to confirm there are no added dyes or preservatives.
You can also make baby food at home to save money and make sure the food is high quality.
Give your baby solid food with meat if they have been breastfed.
If you have breastfed your baby, give them solid food made of pureed meats like turkey, chicken, and beef.
This will help to replace your baby’s iron stores so they stay healthy and develop properly.
Feed your baby 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of solid food once a day.
Sit your baby in a high chair. Then, put the baby food in a bowl.
Use a small baby spoon to feed your baby the food from the bowl.
Give them one spoonful at a time.
Do not feed your baby food directly from the jar, as this can contaminate the food in the jar.
Babies that are 4 to 6 months old will start with solid food once a day.
When they are 6 or 7 months old, they will eat solid food twice a day and gradually increase to having solid food 3 times a day.
Allow your baby to feed themselves.
Place your baby in a high chair or at a high table.
Then, put 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of soft food on the high chair tray or on the table.
Let your baby grab the food and feed themselves.
This method encourages your baby to get used to holding food as they eat.
This method can get messy, so make sure you put a bib on your baby and have towels ready to wipe up any food that gets on the floor or on the table.
Babies who are six months or older and can sit up and hold their heads themselves are usually ready for self-feeding.
Encourage your baby to eat solid food, but do not force them.
Try saying encouraging words like “Open up, now” or “Time to eat.”
You can also open your own mouth to get your baby to open their mouth.
You can try smiling and making happy faces at your baby so they view eating solid foods as a positive thing.
If your baby does not seem interested in solid food at first, let them smell it and try again another time during the day. It may take awhile for them to get used to it.
Your baby will let you know when they are full by leaning back in their high chair or turning their head away from the food.
They may also start playing with the spoon when they are done or refuse to eat another bite.
Throw away solid food one to two days after opening it.
Do not feed your baby solid foods that have been open longer than two days, even if it has been refrigerated.
It may contain bacteria that is bad for your baby.
Introduce solid foods one at a time.
Offer your baby new food a few times over three to five days before giving them another new food.
This will give your baby time to get used to new flavors and tastes.
It will also help you determine if your baby has an allergic reaction to any solid foods.
Give your baby time to get used to pureed or semi-liquid foods before your introduce strained or mashed foods.
Make sure all the food your give your baby is very mushy so your baby can press the food to the top of their mouth and then swallow it.
Make sure you are still giving your baby breast milk or formula while they start having solid foods.
Most babies will still have breast milk or formula six to seven times a day until they are one year old.
Watch for signs of food allergies in your baby.
Check for hives, vomiting, diarrhea, or wheezing.
Your baby’s face may also become swollen and they may struggle to breathe.
Bring your baby to the emergency room or call 911 if your baby is having an allergic reaction.
You should notice an allergic reaction in your baby within a few minutes or hours of them having the solid food.
If you are concerned about food allergies in your baby, speak to your doctor before you give them solid foods.