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Feeding Baby: A Cheat Sheet
Ensuring your baby gets the right nutrition, at the right time and in the right quantities can become overwhelming for new mothers. The good news is that babies are pretty good self-regulators and usually stop eating when they are full—but if you’re worried that your baby is gaining too little or too much weight, you’ll want to be sure. There’s a library of literature on the subject, but between changing diapers, breastfeeding and burping, who has the time to read all these resources? Here’s a snapshot of baby nutrition from birth to 1 year:
Ages 0-4 months
Breast milk or formula should be the only source of nutrition at this age
Nurse on demand or every two to three hours to keep that tiny tummy full
Help baby pace herself during feedings by taking breaks and watching for signs she’s satisfied
At two months, consider adding a daily supplement of vitamin D (200 IU or more in drop form) since breast milk contains only trace amounts of this vital vitamin
Ages 4 months to 8 months
Continue feeding baby breast milk or formula
If baby can hold her head up, close her mouth around a spoon, make chewing motions or shows an interest in food, she may be ready for solid foods – introduce gradually
Start with pureed foods, like sweet potatoes and bananas
Breastfed babies may also lack adequate iron and zinc, so adding fortified cereals is beneficial now (Tip: in the early stages of eating solid foods, let cereal soften in milk/formula to achieve the right consistency)
Ages 8 months to 1 year
Breast milk or formula should remain an important part of baby’s diet, because calcium is a building block for healthy bones and teeth
Baby may be picking up objects with her hand, so beware of choking hazards
Let baby try to use a spoon on her own and make a mess, so she learns coordination and tactile skills
OK to add small servings of pasteurized dairy (no cow’s milk yet) and protein, like eggs and beans
Try incorporating “finger foods:” well-cooked pasta pieces, soft, cut-up fruit and veggies
Exposing your child to a variety of flavors, colors and aromas early will pay off in the long run – just watch for signs of allergies or intolerance. Also keep in mind that baby will gain and lose weight through the first year, or she may have an appetite one day and not as much the next. These fluctuations are normal as long as they’re not extreme or prolonged. Babies, like any age, need a balanced diet of carbs, proteins and fats. Some fat is needed for baby’s brain and nerve development, so don’t skimp on any one thing, and set a good example by eating healthy with baby.
By: +Elizabeth Lotts writer for Vitacost.com
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