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Change is constant in the world of babies; not only when it comes to the little person themselves, but also expert recommendations about how to care for them. Baby feeding, especially, is an area of often confusing and conflicting advice. Yet it doesn’t need to be complex: with a little understanding and a few guidelines, the issue of what to feed your baby, and when, becomes so much clearer.
Milk is the perfect food for small babies. Ideally it is breast milk, as it provides all the nutritional and immune benefits babies need in their first six months of life. However, there are many reasons why some babies are not breastfed, and need to be offered formula which will meet all their growing needs.
Any formula commercially available in the United States needs to meet stringent nutrition and hygiene guidelines to ensure it’s suitable for infant feeding. There are differences between formulas regarding their origins and ingredients, though most formulas are derived from cow’s milk which has been modified to suit infant digestion. Some specialty formulas are produced from alternative sources and are adapted, making them suitable for babies with specific nutritional or allergy requirements.
It’s stating the obvious, but small babies only have one small stomach. It doesn’t take much milk volume to fill that little space so they feel full and satisfied. Similarly, it doesn’t take long for them to digest the milk in their stomach, and this, combined with a fast metabolism, means that frequent feeds for little babies are a necessity.
Every baby is an individual and will have their own unique feeding needs. Sometimes they want to feed more frequently, or alternately, less often. It’s impossible to know exactly how much milk breastfed babies obtain when they feed. Looking at their behaviour and degree of contentment will give some idea about their feeding status. Formula-fed babies are obviously a little more transparent regarding the volume of milk they drink.
A feeding quota, or the volume of milk which formula-fed babies require, can be a useful guide.
There comes a time when milk alone is not enough to meet a growing baby’s needs.
There is a range of behaviours which suggest a baby is ready to transition onto solid foods in addition to milk. The recommendation from health experts to introduce solids at around six months is also balanced by looking for other clues that a baby is ready to expand their dietary intake.
Some foods are more suitable than others to feed young babies because they contain the right amounts of texture, nutrition and taste. Nutritional deficiencies can occur when a baby doesn’t have the opportunity to eat suitable solid foods at the right age. Chewing, biting, spitting out and swallowing all contribute to the development of speech and language. Even something as simple as making a mess is an important part of the learning process.
Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about your baby to understand what your baby’s individual needs are.
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For mums who are able to, breastfeeding is best for babies. It delivers many benefits for both mum and baby. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your growing bub needs to thrive, especially in the first 6 months of life, plus antibodies to help them fight infections.
It’s important for pregnant and breastfeeding mums to maintain good nutrition. Deciding to use a combination of breast and bottle-feeding for an extended period may reduce your own breast milk supply, and reversing your decision may be difficult.
When using infant formula, follow the feeding guide and preparation directions carefully. Improper use or incorrect preparation of infant formula can make your baby ill.
Consult your doctor or health care professional for advice prior to using the formula to feed your baby. You should also consider the social and financial implications before deciding to use infant formula.
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