Published February 04, 2008 by
From birth to about four to six months of age, your baby is only able to suck and swallow liquids.His ability to take food from a spoon begins about the fourth or fifth month.During these early months and for the whole first year of life, the very beat food for your baby is breast milk.Breast milk provides just the right blends of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and calories.It also contains enzymes to aid digestion and minerals, such as calcium and iron, in a form which they can be almost completely absorbed by your baby.Breast milk contains antibodies, which help protect your baby from infections and disease.If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the incidence of allergy is greatly reduced.
If your breast milk is your baby’s only food, certain vitamin supplements may be recommended.Your baby will probably be given vitamin K at birth, by injection or orally to protect him from hemorrhage.Vitamin K is necessary to help blood clot.If your baby has limited exposure to the sun, he may be given a vitamin D supplement.Your baby’s doctor can discuss this with you.
Fluoride supplementation is a controversial issue.Experts disagree about whether it is necessary or advisable. You should speak to your baby’s dentist about this.
Iron supplementation is not usually necessary for a full-term, healthy, breastfed infant.The iron stores your baby accumulated in the last months of pregnancy in addition the iron obtained in breast milk should be sufficient until he gets iron in his diet in the second six months of life.
If you do not breastfeed, a commercial formula is recommended for the whole first year.If you bottle-feed, your baby needs no supplements at all.All the vitamins and minerals he requires are present in the formula.Fluoride supplements may be suggested if the formula is reconstituted with water containing less than 0.3 part per million of fluoride.
During the nursing period, babies are generally fed milk on demand.Breastfed babies will probably feed more frequently since breast milk passes readily through the digestive tract. You can expect to feed your breastfed newborn eight to eighteen times a day.As he grows older, the number of feedings may decrease as he becomes capable of taking more milk with each feeding.
Bottle-fed infants often feed less frequently than breastfed infants because formula is not as readily digested and tends to leave the stomach less quickly.Whether you feed your infant on demand or on a schedule, be sensitive to when he is finished feeding.Even though it’s tempting to have him finish the bottle of formula you have prepared, do not force him-be careful not to overfeed him.
Some foods should be avoided during this period.They include cow’s milk, skim milk, 2% milk, and homemade soy milk.All are high in protein and mineral content.The metabolic by-products of these would stress your baby’s kidneys, causing your baby to become dehydrated.Skim milk lacks the essential fatty acids necessary for the development of the central nervous system and the vascular system, and it does not provide enough calories for growth.Goat’s milk is dangerously low in folic acid, and if it is unpasteurized, it may be contaminated with disease causing bacteria.Homemade soy milk contains no vitamin K and inadequate calcium [placing an infant at risk for rickets]
Solid foods are inappropriate before four to six months of age since your baby cannot digest and use the starches contained in such food as baby cereal.Starting your baby on solids too early may cause diarrhea, impair growth, increase the likelihood of obesity, and increase the incidence of allergy.
Honey (or honey favors) are another food that should not be given to your infant-in either raw or cooked form-during the first year of life.Honey may contain spores of the bacteria that cause botulism.