Baby Feeding 101

Image by Wonderdawg777 on FlickrYou have endured the nine months of excess weight, bloating, uncomfortable sleep, and over-sized clothing…oh yeah, and the “glow.”  Now it is time to care for that little angel that has captured your heart and made those months of misery worth it.  So, where do you begin?  Feeding a baby is something that brings stress to many mothers.  How do you know how much?  Do you really have to breastfeed for a whole year? Which formula should you use?  What kind of food should they eat first?  This article seeks to address many of those concerns, so you can rest easier, knowing that your little love is well nourished.

Breastfeeding Pros and Cons

There is still much controversy about this topic, but it is generally believed, even known, that breastfeeding offers a number of superior health benefits to a baby that formula can’t match.  However, though it may be recommended that you breastfeed for a year, this is not practical for all mothers.  Therefore, it may be a much more reasonable goal to shoot for six-, or even three months.  Anything that you can offer your child is better than nothing.  So, set a goal that is reasonable for you and follow your own timeline, rather than looking to others to set it for you.

Formula Options

There are many formula options available today that offer a variety of benefits and disadvantages.  Is it better to use a name brand formula?  We all know them.  They are the powerhouses of the formula industry- Similac and Enfamil.  However, does their status as industry leaders mean that they have something better to offer, or does it seemly mean that you pay more to tote the can with the familiar label?  There is some argument about this, but it is not over whether or not this formula is superior to the no-name brands.  Instead, the debate exists around the idea that consistency is best.  Ultimately, that decision is up to you.

There is also another issue when it comes to formula- soy versus milk versus lactose free versus…  There are many types of formula available, but most specialists agree that standard milk-based is the best option, unless the child has an allergy to it.  In that case, you should consult your physician to determine the next best option for the child.

Portion Control

A concern of many new parents is that their baby is not receiving enough calories, or on the opposite end, that the child is consuming too many.  In most cases, the child is the best judge of this.  Rest assured that a baby will tell you when he or she is hungry.  If the concern lies with ensuring that enough breast milk is produced to fill the tummy of your little love, then you might want to speak to your doctor or supplement with formula if you are certain the child is still hungry after a feeding.

Introducing Solid Foods

The next step is to introduce solid foods.  The recommended age to do so is four months.  Some parents choose to start this process a bit early, but pediatricians warn that starting to introduce foods too early can increase digestion problems and may be linked to the development of more food allergies.  If you would like to start solid foods before four months consult your pediatrician.  The typical order of introduction is single grain baby cereals- ie. rice or oat- then multi-grain cereals, then fruits and vegetables.  It is wise to introduce foods one at a time, so you are sure to avoid foods that cause undesirable physical reactions.

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