Baby Feeding Patterns
Babies feed at different intervals, depending on their age and personality. In general, breast milk is digested more rapidly than formula, so breast-fed babies feed every 2 to 3 hours. But watch your baby, not the clock. A baby that’s hungry will be awake and alert, sucking on her fingers and moving around her mouth. If her cheek is touched, she will move her mouth towards the source of contact. This is called “rooting,” and it’s your baby’s way of saying she wants to eat. Crying is a late sign of hunger. If you watch your baby and offer her the breast when she’s hungry, you’ll empty your breasts regularly and prevent engorgement. Keep in mind it may take a few weeks for your breasts to consistently make the right amount of milk at the right time.
Infant formula is harder for babies to digest than breast milk, so it takes longer to get through their system. As a result, bottle-fed babies may eat every four hours.
Regardless of the method you choose to feed your baby, whole cow's milk should not be given until your baby is one year old. Babies under one year have a difficult time digesting cow's milk.
Between six and twelve months you can begin introducing solid foods. Foods should only be introduced one at a time. This allows you to observe for allergic reactions. New foods should also only be given when your child is hungry. At six months, or when your health care provider recommends, you can begin pureed, strained, or finely mashed foods. Between six and seven months you can begin crackers, vegetables and fruit. Between nine and twelve months commercially prepared junior foods or chopped table foods can be eaten. Talk to your pediatrician for more tips on introducing solids.
Zev Williams MD, PhD, FACOG, Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, Weill-Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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