Tips for Parents of Infants
Babies are born with a natural ability to regulate the amount of food they need. They will give you cues when they are hungry, such as crying or rooting. When they are full, they will turn away from the bottle or breast and begin to play or act uninterested. Pay attention to these cues. Listen to your baby about when to feed or stop feeding!
Benefits of Breastfeeding
- It is the only food a baby needs for the first four to six months.
- Fewer stomach problems.
- Decreased chance of becoming overweight.
- Fewer allergy problems.
- Protection against illnesses and diseases.
- Easy for a baby to digest.
- Babies bond with mothers and receive touching.
- It helps brain and cognitive development.
- It tastes different with every meal, so babies will more readily try new foods.
- It is always available at the right temperature.
What about the bottle?
- Never dilute formula.
- Serve no cow’s milk the first year.
- Use the bottle only for formula during the first four to six months.
- Do not serve juice in bottles, as it may cause tooth decay.
- Hold your baby while feeding with a bottle.
- Putting your baby to bed with a bottle may cause dental, sleep and medical problems.
- Use the bottle for food – not to calm. Comfort by holding and cuddling.
- Don’t force your baby to finish a bottle.
- If you can’t breastfeed, use the formula the doctor recommends.
- Breastfeed whenever possible.
- Babies will take varying amounts of food at each meal, so don’t worry.
- Give only breast milk for the first six months.
Feeding Your Infant
Teaching your baby to eat solid foods
- Starting food and cereal early does NOT help babies sleep through the night, so wait until four to six months.
- Avoid putting food in infants’ bottles.
- Start with soft foods.
- Give very tiny bites first.
- Start with cereal, then try a variety of foods, starting with vegetables, meats and then fruits.
- Avoid raisins, nuts, grapes, hot dogs or hard raw fruits unless they are cut into very small pieces.
- Use tiny spoons coated with plastic.
- Baby will usually eat less than a tablespoon to begin with.
- Remember that baby will push his food out of his mouth often, as the tongue learns to work with and swallow food.
- Offer teething biscuits or foods such as Cheerios that become soft in the mouth.
- Let an older baby feed herself, even when she makes a mess.
- During the first year, the baby’s weight triples.
- Make your own baby food by pureeing vegetables, fruits and meats and freezing them in an ice tray.
Introducing New Drinks
- Babies don’t need extra water. Their milk gives them enough liquid, and extra water can be harmful.
- Serve no juice until at least six months, then give only four to six ounces per day of 100 percent juice – and only from a cup.
- Introduce drinking from a cup at around eight or nine months.
- Stop formula at one year and give whole cow’s milk or soy if allergic.
Introducing New Foods
- Introduce solid foods between four and six months of age only if the doctor recommends it.
- Give infants new foods one at a time. Wait five to seven days after introducing a new food before trying another new one.
- Serve no adult foods (spicy food, gravies, fried food). These may lead to food allergies and provide too many calories with little nutrition.
- Introduce dairy products after 12 months of age.
- Introduce eggs after 24 months of age.
- Introduce peanuts, tree nuts, fish and seafood after 36 months of age.
- Food allergies in infants may take a day or two to show up.
- Allergy symptoms are usually fussiness, rash, diarrhea or stomach pain.
- Food allergies are not permanent; the baby’s system may just need more time to be ready for that food.
- If a baby shows a food allergy or a food doesn’t agree with him, wait a few weeks and try again.
Infant Serving Sizes
|Type of Food
|Formula or breast milk
|Bread, cereal, rice or pasta
|1-2 -cup servings, including mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, breads, crackers, toast, rolls, soft muffins
|3-4 1/2 cup servings
|1/2 -1 cup
|1/2 -1 cup
|1/2 -1 cup
|1/2 -1 cup
|1-2 Tbsp. per day
|1-2 Tbsp. per day
|Proteins: meat, poultry, beans, fish, peas, eggs, peanut butter
|1-2 Tbsp., pureed
|1/4 – 1/2 cup
Formula or Breast Milk
These are guidelines only. Each baby is different. Remember that if your baby is having several wet diapers a day and seems comfortable, he is probably getting plenty of breast milk. Sometimes babies will hit a growth spurt during which they will nurse for longer periods of time. This is the way that your milk supply is built up and baby should be allowed to nurse a reasonable amount of time. Cow’s milk should NOT be given to infants and give only whole milk to children from ages one to two.
Cereals and Other Starchy Foods
Use infant cereals when first providing cereal, as they are fortified with iron. Iron stores the baby is born with tend to become lower around six months. Some doctors may recommend beginning cereals at four or five months. It is best to ask your pediatrician what she would prefer.
Juices are not necessary for infants and should be used sparingly. Notice that these serving sizes are for the whole day!
Infants usually get the water they need from their formula or breast milk. For infants up to five months of age, give fluids other than breast milk or formula only if recommended by the pediatrician. Do not use products such as Pedialyte® unless directed by the physician. For ages six to twelve months, offer fluids whenever the baby shows interest.