Breast milk or infant formula is the only food your baby will need for the first six months of life. Water, sugar-water, juice, and electrolyte drinks (for example, Pedialyte) are not needed — don’t give them unless you are instructed to do so by your doctor.
Cow’s milk or goat’s milk should also not be fed to a baby younger than one year of age. These milks are high in protein and salt and are harder for babies to digest. In addition, these milks do not contain many of the important vitamins and minerals your baby needs. They are especially low in folic acid and vitamin B12, nutrients that help prevent anemia and iron deficiency.
If you feed your baby formula, keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using iron-fortified formula. Always carefully follow the preparation instructions for the formula you give to your baby. (For example, never try to “stretch” formula by adding more water.) Also, make sure you’re using water from a safe water source.
To reduce waste, prepare only the amount of formula your baby usually takes in one feeding. Throw away any formula left in the bottle after each feeding. As your baby grows, she will gradually take more formula.
You should never microwave formula. The microwave heats formula unevenly, causing hot spots that may burn the baby’s mouth. This may occur even if the bottle feels warm to the touch. It is best to warm formula under a warm faucet, in a pan of warm water, or in a bottle warmer.
Wash your bottles with hot, soapy water and rinse well. Check bottle nipples for tears or cracks, stickiness, or enlargement. If any of these occur, throw the nipple away. Rinse bottles before putting them in the dishwasher.
The table below shows the approximate number of feedings per day — and number of ounces per feeding — for babies of different ages. Remember that every baby is unique. If your child’s feeding schedule varies greatly from this, talk to your doctor.
|Age||Approximate # of Feedings||Approximate # of Ounces Per Feeding|
|0-1 Month||On demand, 6 to 8 feedings||2 to 5 ounces|
|1-2 Months||5 to 7 feedings||3 to 6 ounces|
|2-3 Months||4 to 7 feedings||4 to 7 ounces|
|3-4 Months||4 to 6 feedings||6 to 8 ounces|
Hold your baby in a semi-sitting position to eat. This helps keep air from entering his stomach, allows you to watch out for choking, and helps you feel bonded to your baby. Never prop a bottle for feeding. Also, never leave your baby with a bottle while sleeping, as this promotes tooth decay.
Most babies spit up after eating, especially at first. There is a difference between spitting up and vomiting. Spitting up is like “spilling over” and is usually not a cause for worry. Your baby will outgrow this. Vomiting is when a large amount of milk is returned forcibly. Some babies vomit occasionally. If vomiting continues, consult your baby’s doctor.
If your baby uses a pacifier, follow these simple guidelines:
- Keep the pacifier clean.
- Do not tie a pacifier around your baby’s neck. Your baby could strangle.
- If the pacifier becomes torn, cracked, sticky, enlarged, or shows other signs of wear, replace it immediately.
- Use only store-bought pacifiers.
Always put your baby on his back to sleep. (If your baby has special needs, your doctor may recommend other sleeping positions.) Studies show that back sleeping lowers the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or crib death).
Giving a pacifier may also help prevent SIDS — but if you’re breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is well established before giving a pacifier to your baby.
Note that your baby should NOT sleep in a baby swing or car seat. If your baby spits up while sleeping, he has less risk of choking if he’s on his back. When he’s on his back, his esophagus (eating tube) is beneath his trachea (breathing tube). In this position, gravity helps keep any food out of his airway.
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