Feeding your baby 

Feeding your baby in the first year of life is an exciting adventure for parents and babies alike. It's about development, nutrition, exploration, sharing and learning. You can help your baby develop a lifetime of healthy eating habits with the right start. 

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For the first 6 months of life, breastfed babies will get what they need from their mother's milk. Breast milk has the right amount and quality of nutrients to suit your baby's first food needs. It is easiest on her digestive system, so there's less chance of constipation or diarrhea. Breast milk also contains antibodies and other immune factors that help your baby prevent and fight off illness better.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed should get a daily supplement of vitamin D, which is available as drops.

If breastfeeding is not an option, use a store-bought iron-fortified infant formula for the first 9 to 12 months. The formula should be cow's milk-based.

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At 6 months, most babies cannot get everything they need from breast milk or formula alone. Though you can continue to breastfeed until your baby is 2 years and beyond, at 6 months you'll start to introduce your baby to other foods. Your baby is ready to start other foods when he:

There are many ways to introduce solid food. The first foods usually vary from culture to culture and from family to family.

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Breast is best

There are many advantages to breastfeeding your baby. It's easy. The milk is always available to the baby. The mother doesn't have to worry about heating a bottle when her baby is ready to eat. She doesn't have to worry about keeping breastmilk warm or cold when going out. And best of all, a mother can feed her baby in bed at night, allowing her to get as much rest as possible.

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The baby's sucking at the breast causes uterine contractions right after birth. The contractions lead to less bleeding for the mother, and return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy shape much faster. Breastfeeding burns calories. A mother can lose much of her pregnancy weight faster than if she were bottle-feeding her baby. It also creates a bond between mother and baby, helping the mother learn her baby's cues and signals faster. This makes mothering her baby easier.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends breastfeeding for at least the baby's first year. As solids are introduced (usually around the middle of that year) the baby will shift his primary source of nutrition from his mother's milk to other foods. Basically, you feed your baby as long as you and your baby wish to continue.

All the contributions of human milk, both nutritional and health, continue for as long as a baby receives breastmilk. In fact, as the baby takes less breastmilk, these benefits are condensed into what milk is produced. Many of the health advantages of breastmilk are dose related: the longer the baby receives breastmilk, the greater are the benefits.

  • The baby nurses frequently averaging at least 8-12 feedings per 24-hour period.

  • The baby is allowed to determine the length of the feeding, which may be 10 to 20 minutes per breast or longer.

  • Baby's swallowing sounds are audible as he is breastfeeding.

  • The baby should gain at least 4-7 ounces per week after the fourth day of life.

  • The baby will be alert and active, appear healthy, have good colour, firm skin, and will be growing in length and head 


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The physical act of breastfeeding is more than the quantity of milk that is supplied, as you will find once you hold your baby in your arms. Breastfeeding is warmth, nutrition, and mother's love all rolled into one. Understanding and appreciating the signs of knowing when your baby is getting enough to eat is one of the most important things a new mother can know.

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Bottle Feeding your baby

Here are some tips to make bottlefeeding easier, more trouble-free and more rewarding for you and your baby




Baby with bottle

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Feeding your baby solids

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, "babies don't need other foods in their diet until somewhere in the middle of the first year of life." This statement is very useful, because it doesn't say your baby needs other food at some specific age. You can let your baby be your guide. And babies will tell you when they are ready for solids, somewhere between 6 and 12 months. Like breastfeeding: "watch the baby, not the clock." Prior to that time, an infant's digestive system is not mature enough to digest foods other than human milk adequately.


You may notice that your baby may think he/she is ready for solids, may be grabbing food off your plate, and enjoying the new taste. But later in the day, the baby may have an upset tummy, become constipated, or you may see the food come out in the diaper, in the same form as when it went in, completely undigested. Your milk remains the perfect nutritious food for your baby, until his system is ready for table foods.

If you've started solids, you can stop, and try again a few weeks later. Also keep in mind that four months is the bare minimum age at which your baby might be ready for a taste of solid food. It's much more common for a baby to be ready for solids later in his first year. If you are a first time mother, you may be eager to try it.

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When your baby does start solids, remember to breastfeed first and then offer solids. Your baby doesn't need big quantities, a teaspoon or so. Other foods still aren't as good as breast milk during the first year; you're just trying to get baby used to other tastes and textures. Mashed banana is an easy food to start with; babies almost always like it. Protein foods come early in the rotation, mashed pieces of meat. Eggs should wait a little while.

When you start feeding your baby solids, introduce only one new food at a time, and wait a week before trying each new food. This way you can watch for any signs of allergic reaction (such as rashes, hives, wheezing or diarrhoea). If you have a family history of allergies, you need to be especially cautious. Foods that are commonly allergenic include cow's milk, eggs (especially the whites), citrus fruits, peanuts, wheat, and corn.

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