Tips for the First Year

Eat, sleep, pee, poop, repeat. These are just a few highlights of a typical day for a newborn baby.

And if you’re a new parent, it’s the eating part that may be the source of many of your questions and worries. How much should your baby eat? What should you do if your baby isn’t sleeping? What makes them seem hungry? Every day?When can your child start solid food?

Questions abound — and, despite Grandma’s insistence, the answers have changed since you were a tot. It’s now recommended that newborns, even formula-fed ones, eat on demand (consider it good preparation for the teenage years) and that babies wait to start solid foods until they’re 4 to 6 months old.

Every baby is unique — but one thing that’s pretty consistent is that breastfed babies eat more frequently than bottle-fed ones. That’s because breast milk is easily digested and empties from the stomach a lot quicker than formula.

Breastfed babies

There’s no rest for the weary. According to La Leche League International, you should begin nursing your baby within 1 hour of birth and provide about 8 to 12 feedings daily in the first few weeks of life (yeah, we’re exhausted for you).

At first, it’s important not to let your baby go more than 4 hours without feeding. You’ll likely need to wake them up if necessary, at least until breastfeeding is well established and they’re gaining weight appropriately.

As your baby gets older, and your milk supply increases, your baby will be capable of taking in more milk in a shorter time per feeding. That’s when you might start to notice a more predictable pattern.

  • 1 to 3 months: Your baby should be able to eat between 7 and 9 times per hour.
  • 3 Months: Feedings are 6-8 times per 24 hours.
  • 6 Months: Your baby will eat approximately 6 times per day.
  • 12 months: Nursing may be reduced to approximately 4 times per day. The introduction of solids at about 6 months helps to fuel your baby’s additional nutritional needs.

This is only one example. Different babies have different preferences and paces, as well as other factors that can influence how often they are fed.

Bottle-fed babies

Bottle-fed babies should consume on demand, just like breastfed babies. On average, that’s about every 2 to 3 hours. This is a typical feeding schedule:

  • Newborn: Every 2 to 3 Hours
  • At 2 months, every 3-4 hours
  • Between 4 and 6 months: Every 4 hours to 5 hours
  • At 6+ Months: Every 4 to 5 Hours

Both bottle-fed and breastfed babies

  • Don’t give liquids other than formula or breast milk to babies under a year old. That includes juices and cow’s milk. They don’t provide the right (if any) nutrients and can be upsetting to your baby’s tummy. You can introduce water to your baby as soon as you offer a cup.
  • Don’t add baby cereal to a bottle.
    • It can cause choking hazards.
    • A baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to handle cereal until about 4 to 6 months of age.
    • It is possible to overfeed your baby.
  • Don’t give your baby any form of honey until after their first birthday. Honey can be dangerous for a baby, occasionally causing what’s called infant botulism.
  • Adjust your expectations to meet the needs of your baby. Babies who are not yet born will likely follow their adjusted feeding schedule. Your doctor may be able to help you determine the best feeding schedule for your baby.

Every parent’s holy grail is a schedule. As their stomach grows, your child will naturally develop a pattern of eating. They can now take more formula or breastmilk at one time. This can happen between 2 to 4 months old.

For now, though, focus on learning your baby’s hunger cues, such as:

  • You can look for a nipple by rooting around your chest.
  • Put their fists in their mouths
  • Smacking or licking their mouths
  • fussing that can escalate quickly (don’t wait until your baby’s Don’t be anxious(to feed them)

When your baby turns a few weeks old, you might be able to establish a feeding/sleep schedule that suits you.

Let’s say, for example, your 4-month-old wakes every 5 hours for a feeding. If you feed your baby at 9 p.m. and they wake up around 2 a.m. If you feed your baby at 9 p.m. and they wake up just before you go to sleep, they might not awaken until 4 a.m. which will give you some nighttime winks.

If your baby appears hungry, you should feed them. During growth spurts, which are usually around 3 to 6 months old, your baby will eat more often.

Some babies will also “cluster feed,” meaning they’ll feed more frequently during certain periods and less at others. Cluster feeding can happen in the afternoon or evening, when your baby will then be able to sleep longer at night. This happens more often in breastfed babies than it is with bottle-fed babies.

Are you concerned about overfeeding your baby? While this isn’t really possible to do with an exclusively breastfed baby, you can overfeed a baby who’s taking a bottle — especially if they’re sucking on the bottle for comfort. Follow their hunger cues, but talk to your pediatrician if you’re worried your little one may be overeating.

Your baby is probably ready for solids if they’re 4 to 6 months old and:

  • Have good head control
  • seem interested in what you’re eating
  • Look for food
  • Weigh 13 to more pounds

What food should you start with? The AAP now says it doesn’t really matter much in what order you introduce foods. The only rule is to stick with one food for three to five days before trying another. If there’s an allergic reaction (rash, diarrhea, vomiting are common first signs), you’ll know which food is causing it.

You can switch from pureed baby food to baby food with more texture as your baby grows (e.g., mashed bananas, scrambled eggs, well-cooked, chopped pasta). This usually happens between 8 and 10 months.

You can find a wide range of baby food products at the supermarket. But if your preference is to make your own, you should keep it simple and free from salt and sugar. Additionally, at this stage, don’t feed your baby anything that could be a choking hazard, including:

  • Hard foods like popcorn and nuts are not allowed.
  • Fresh fruits such as apples are hard and can be difficult to soften.
  • any meat that isn’t well cooked and very well chopped (this includes hot dogs)
  • Cheese cubes
  • peanut butter (though talk to your pediatrician about this one — and the benefits of introducing diluted peanut butter before the age of 1)

Your baby should be eating a wide variety of food as they approach their first birthday. They should also consume approximately 4 ounces of solids each meal. Keep giving breast milk or formula. Baby’s are drinking approximately 30 ounces of milk per day at 8 months.

You can also buy stock in a company that makes stain fighting laundry detergent. It’ll pay for college.

Babies aren’t cookie cutter. Some babies gain weight easily while others have trouble. Things that can affect a baby’s weight gain include:

  • Cleft palate and lip defects, such as a cleft lip, can lead to problems in feeding.
  • A milk protein intolerance
  • being premature
  • Comparing breast feeding with using a bottle

A 2012 study of more than 1,800 babies found that the infants who were fed with a bottle — regardless of whether the bottle contained breast milk or formula — gained more weight in the first year than babies who nursed exclusively.

Your baby’s doctor is the best one to advise you on a healthy weight range for your baby.

How, when, and what to feed a baby are top worries of every parent — but there’s good news: Most babies are pretty good judges of when they’re hungry and when they’re full — and they’ll let you know it.

Just make sure you are giving them the right choices at just the right time. Also, pay close attention to what they say. Your pediatrician will be there to answer any questions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.