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Infant Feeding Guidelines

Infant Feeding Guidelines

The best way to ensure your baby’s health is to make sure that you are feeding her correctly and on schedule.  Some babies eat on demand, while others eat on a schedule.  Either way, your baby would be the one to determine just when and how much she would be eating for the day.

At birth

Your baby’s diet would exclusively be of breast milk or formula milk.  The main reason is that along with other parts of her body, your baby’s digestive system is still immature.  She does not have the right enzyme to digest and absorb anything else. To know if your baby is ready to be fed, watch out for signs of hunger.  One definite sign that she’s ready is the rooting reflex.  Touch your finger near your baby’s lips and watch her do her best to swallow the source of stimulus.  This is a natural survival instinct found in babies to help them know just how and where to find food.  If your baby sleeps all the time, you must wake her every 2-3 hours to feed her.  Letting her sleep for more than 3 hours without feeding will pose risk on her health and development.  Formula fed babies may take 3-4 hours before meals, but most of them cry for sustenance by 3 hours.

Once your baby has had enough, she will exhibit signs of contentment.  She would thrust out the nipple using her tongue and go to sleep immediately during the first few weeks.  Once she gets older, say 2-3 months, she would be able to push away from the breast or the bottle if she’s had enough.

4-6 months

Your baby is now ready for her first solid food.  The first food to introduce would be rice cereal.   But before you feed your baby solid food, you must first watch out for sings of readiness.  This would include:

  1. Ability to hold head upright without support
  2. Able to sit with support
  3. The extrusion reflex is gone (tongue-thrusting motion whenever something is introduced in baby’s mouth)
  4. Baby is highly interested on what you’re eating

The cereal is to be mixed in a huge amount of breast milk or formula milk.  1 teaspoon of cereal to 5-6 tablespoons of breast milk or formula is an ideal mixture when introducing cereal to your baby.  Your baby may reject the food initially, the consistency and taste of the food being foreign to her.  If she does reject the food, try again after a few days.  Once she’s gotten used to it, you may start to increase the thickness of the mixture until it reaches the recommended form.  Since your baby is still starting on her solid food, the main staple would still be breast milk or formula milk.  Cereals can be given to your baby twice a day; mid morning and late afternoon would be ideal.  If your baby is experiencing colic, do not give the cereal before bed time.  After several weeks, grain cereals can be introduced to your baby.

It is recommended that you wait at least 3-5 days before introducing new food to your baby.

6-8 months

This is, by far, the safest age to introduce solid food to your child.  Your baby’s neck muscles are much more fully developed to aid in keeping her head upright and help her swallow food better.  If you haven’t introduced solids to your baby around this age, start the same way as stated above, with the aforementioned developmental milestones as the same indicators.

Once she’s able to digest cereal, you can then introduce a variety of pureed fruits (apples (without seeds) banana, peaches) and pureed well-cooked vegetables (carrots, potato, squash, chayote) to your baby’s diet.  Some recommend starting with vegetables first so that your baby will be used to eating them when she grows old.  Others recommend starting with fruits for they have less fiber and easier to digest compared to vegetables. As long as you give a variety of foods to your baby, you will eliminate the possibility of developing food preference when she grows old.

If your baby does not tolerate solid food, she may either throw up after feeding, have diarrhea, colic, or indigestion.  Stay with the food for 3 days or more before introducing a new type of food.  Introduction is done preferably one at a time to limit the incidence of allergic reactions, and to trace the source easily once it occurs.  Several signs of allergic reaction include formation of red patches on the skin, shortness of breath, itchiness, and shortness of breath.  Breast milk or formula milk is still the best food source for your baby.

Cereals are given 2-3 times a day with serving size of 3-9 tablespoons.  Pureed fruits and vegetables are given initially in an amount of 1 teaspoon per serving, gradually and carefully increasing the amount until your baby is able to tolerate ½ cup of the preparation.  These are given individually in 3 separate servings.  That means if you start the day with fruits, end the day with fruits.  Change only when you know your baby is able to tolerate the food.  If your baby is shaking her head, avoiding the spoon, and deliberately spitting out food, it is time to quit feeding.  As much as you want to feed your baby with enough food to lessen the frequency of feeding, it is not possible.  Your baby’s stomach is quite small and can only hold as well as digest small amounts.  Best feeding would be small and frequent, not big and less.

It is recommended that you wait at least 3-5 days before introducing new food to your baby.

8-9 Months

Your baby is now ready for a different level of food: finger foods and meat.  Before giving your baby finger foods, the following must be observed first in your baby:

  • Pincer grasp is fully developed.  This is indicated by your baby’s ability to pick up small objects using her thumb and forefinger.
  • She’s able to hold her bottle herself.
  • Can transfer objects from one hand to another.
  • Puts any object that she can pick inside her mouth.
  • She performs chewing motions with or without food.
  • Your baby is now teething.

Her menu is now highly diversified.  Breast milk or formula milk is still the main staple, with few servings of cereal or oats.  Vegetables and fruits are now mashed and not pureed.  Pureed meat such as fish, chicken (without skin), and pork introduced in that order, are now mixed along with the cereal, vegetable, or fruit preparation.  Meats must be introduced gradually and carefully.  Start in small amounts, slowly increasing up to ¼ cup.

Bananas can be cut up into small, bite sized pieces.  Other finger foods can also include pasta (macaroni or spiral), cut up bread, and teething crackers.  Some introduce egg whites in their baby’s diet but not the yolk (but if you have a history of allergy to any food or substance, defer feeding your baby any form of eggs until she reaches the first year).  Make sure that you supervise your baby while she eats.  There will be times when your baby would rather swallow the food before chewing as they are not yet used to chewing.

It is recommended that you wait at least 3-5 days before introducing new food to your baby.

10-12 months

Your baby will now have more teeth, and is showing willingness in feeding herself by holding the spoon.  She’s also able to drink from a cup or glass when supervised.  Milk is still the staple, but your baby can now join you in eating dinner.  She can now swallow with ease, and no longer pushes food from her mouth.

Meat can now be flaked or finely ground.  As long as it is well cooked, and really soft, your baby will be able to chew and swallow meats easily.  By age of 12 months, cheese and eggs are now safe to give. Still, caution is advised when giving food to your baby.

It is recommended that you wait at least 3-5 days before introducing new food to your baby.

Caution in introducing food to your baby

Babies are highly sensitive, and caution is advised when giving them different types of solid foods.  Make a food diary stating what type of food was given.  Document the time it was given and to how much was served. It is highly necessary, especially if you or someone in the family has a history of allergy to food or something in the environment.

Nuts are not introduced to your baby before she reaches the age of 2.  Babies have been rushed to the hospital because of chocking and severe allergic reactions to nuts.  Peanut butter is also not advised for it can get stuck in your baby’s mouth or throat, leading to choking.  Aside from that, peanut can cause the most lethal and instantaneous allergic reaction in babies.  If in doubt, always ask your pediatrician on tips regarding feeding children.  For safety measures, have your pediatrician prescribe an anti-histamine/anti-allergic reaction medication for your baby just in case an allergic reaction does occur.

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