All parents want their babies to be healthy. A happy and healthy baby starts with proper nutrition. As babies grow, they will have developing nutritional needs. Many pediatricians have followed feeding charts to ensure their patients give the right amount of food every day. If you want the best for your newborn, make sure to follow these feeding guidelines.
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General Guidelines for Feeding Your Baby
All babies are different, so their feeding requirements will vary. Some like to snack more, while others can go longer between feedings. You can expect most newborns to eat every 2 to 3 hours, or eight times a day. Many babies will only drink about 1 to 2 ounces at each feeding. These amounts will increase as the baby gets older.
The baby will take around 4 to 5 ounces of feedings at two months of age about every four hours. By four months, that will increase to 4 to 6 ounces per feeding. And at six months of age, your baby may take about 8 ounces every 5 hours. You can expect the baby to increase the amount of formula by 1 ounce every month until they reach 8 ounces per feeding. By six months old, you can introduce solid foods into their diet.
How to Get Your Baby on a Feeding Schedule
You need to get your baby on a consistent feeding schedule as a parent. The baby will naturally fall into a feeding pattern as they take in more formula or breast milk at one time. You can expect this to happen between two and four months of age. If you still have a young baby, make sure to look for hunger cues, such as:
- Putting a fist in the mouth
- Rooting around your chest
- Smacking their lips
- Fussy behavior
After your child is a few months old, you can introduce a feeding schedule that works on your time.
Feeding Chart: Your Baby's First Year
Formula and breast milk should be the primary source of nutrition for your infant's first year of life. You should never introduce solid foods before the start of 4 months because milk and formula already provide enough nutrition. Along with that, many babies are not developed to eat solid food from a spoon. If you feed your baby solid food too early in their development, it can cause increased weight gain during infancy and into childhood.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants, children, and adolescents receive enough vitamin D through supplements, cow's milk, or formula. Without enough vitamin D in your child's diet, there could be some nutritional complications. Your child should have a minimum intake of 400 IU of vitamin D per day.
Related: How to Help a Constipated Baby
Breast-Feeding Guide: 0-12 Months
After the baby's birth, a new mother should expect to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours, even overnight. Make sure to give the baby a quiet environment to feed. If the infant is distracted or frustrated, they may have problems with their feedings. During the first several months, it is normal for the infant to wake up at night and expect a feeding. For a more comfortable experience, mothers should alternate their breasts and allow the infant to empty the breast before switching to the other. While you might want to push a set schedule, try to resist the urge. You always want to follow your child's feeding cues and habits. If you cannot provide enough breast milk, consider using a pump to extract the milk and maintain a full supply.
Formula Feeding Guide: 0-12 Months
If breast milk is not available, you can use standard infant formula as an appropriate alternative. Make sure to speak to your pediatrician to find the right brand for your newborn. You should make the bottle feeding experience more interactive for your baby. Always hold the bottle in the proper position to prevent ear infections and tooth development issues. Like breast-feeding, you want to watch out for those hunger cues. When the baby is hungry, then you feed them. As the baby increases its solid food intake, you can reduce the amount of formula.
Complementary Feeding: 6+ Months
Formula and breast milk should remain a vital part of your baby's diet. However, after six months of age, you can introduce some other feedings.
Beverages for Your Baby
Only offer formula and breast milk as a beverage for your baby during the first months of development. You can give milk and formula in a cup at six months of age. Fruit juice is never recommended for babies under the age of 1. Along with that, you never want to give sugar-sweetened beverages to infants. When introducing juice, always provide 100% pasteurized juice and limit the drink to 4 to 6 ounces per day.
Solid Foods for Your Baby
Around six months of age, you can introduce solid food. You will know your child is ready when they can:
- Sit up by themselves
- Open their mouth when food is coming
- Keep food in their mouths
- Move food to the back of their mouth with the tongue
Introduce solid food in a calm environment. The infant needs to be in an upright and seated position. You want to start with a small amount of food and make sure to feed with a spoon or finger. As the infant eats more, you can increase the amount of food. In addition to that, you want to expose your infant to a wide range of textures and flavors to develop healthy eating habits.
Get Your Baby Off to the Right Start
You can get your infant off to the right start and develop healthy eating habits with these few tips. As always, check with your pediatrician. Your baby may have different nutritional needs than other infants.
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