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Smart Moves When Feeding Your Baby
What should I feed my baby?
Congratulations on your new baby! The right nutrition will give your baby the best start. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk for the first year of your baby's life. Breastfeeding and human milk have many advantages for both mom and baby. Breastfeeding support is one of the benefits provided by the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. To learn more about the health benefits of breastfeeding, contact your local WIC office. Whether you choose to give your child breast milk, formula, or a combination - feeding your baby is a special time to bond with your child.
When can I give my baby food?
Feed your baby breast milk or formula throughout the first year of life. Add solid foods when your baby shows signs of being ready (typically around 6 months; you can also ask your doctor what's best for your baby). Breast milk and formula provide all the nutrients that your baby needs for the first 6 months of their life. There is no benefit to starting solid foods before your baby is ready. After your baby turns 6 months old, WIC will provide infant foods such as cereal and fruits and vegetables; breastfed babies will also receive infant meats.
Adding cereal to the bottle is not recommended for most babies. It can lead to excessive weight gain, choking, and, in babies younger than 4 months, an increased risk for allergies. The best way to provide cereal is from a spoon when your baby is developmentally ready.
Make learning to eat solid foods a pleasant experience for your baby. Clues your baby may be ready for other foods include:
- Able to sit with help
- Have good head control
- Shows interest when others eat
- Opens mouth for food
- Close lips around a spoon and swallow food
- Begin to chew
What should I feed my baby?
Traditionally, a single grain infant cereal was recommended as the first food to give your baby; however, there is no medical evidence that introducing food in any specific order is best. When introducing new foods to your baby it is important to wait a few days in between introducing each new food to watch for signs of an allergic reaction. If your baby does not like a food the first time he tries it, wait a few days and try it again. It can take many times of trying a new food or texture before your baby will accept it. Do not force your child to eat if he is crying, closing his mouth, or turning his head away.
Feed your baby a variety of fruits, vegetables, iron fortified infant cereals, and proteins. To minimize the risk of choking, feed your baby thin purees and then gradually move to thicker textures as your baby is ready. Avoid adding sugars and salt to your baby's food. Most babies are ready for finger foods around 8 months when they can pick up soft chunks of food, put it in their mouth, and chew on their own.
What should my baby drink?
Your baby should continue to drink breast milk or formula until their first birthday. When your child begins to eat solid foods, you may offer a small amount of water daily. Your child cannot drink cow's milk yet because it does not provide the right nutrition for babies under 1 and can be too harsh on your baby's digestive system. Infants under one year of age should not have juice. While it is never necessary to give your child juice, after 1 year any juice given should be 100% pasteurized juice, only given in an open cup (not in a bottle or sippy cup), and never offer more than 4 ounces per day.
How is my baby growing?
Follow the growth of your baby with your doctor to be sure your baby is growing enough.
Babies usually double their birth weight in four to six months and triple their birth weight by one year of age.
For more tips on caring for your baby from the American Academy of Pediatrics visit www.healthychildren.org
The WIC Program provides healthy foods, nutrition advice, breastfeeding support. If you believe your baby qualifies for WIC, contact 211 for the phone number of your local WIC Office.