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Nutrition and Healthy Eating Habits*

Feeding your baby is more than just nourishing his/her body.  It is what makes you feel competent as a parent.  Feeding soothes a crying baby and it increases the emotional bonds between baby and parent.  Your baby's quieted cries, weight gain and soiled diapers are the main feedback you receive that baby is healthy and happy.  These are your earliest rewards as a parent.

Feeding patterns:
Newborns - 8 to 10 feedings per day (including 2 during the night).  Usually 1-2 hours apart during wakeful times and 3-4 hours apart during restful times.
One to Two Month Olds - 5 feedings in 24 hours (usually 3-4 hours apart).
Three to Four Month Olds - Many babies are sleeping through the middle of the night feedings now.
Five to Six Month Olds - Most babies have moved to about 4 feedings in 24 hours (at 5 hour intervals).  Babies begin to get distracted during feedings.  Solids have been introduced.
Between 6 & 10 Months - Three-meal-a-day pattern for most babies.

Positive Nutritional Tips:

  • If your baby is drinking about 35 to 40 ounces of formula a day and is still hungry, it may be a good time to start solids.  (Between 4 and 6 months old).

  • Introduce foods one at a time beginning with cereals, vegetables and then fruits with 3-4 days in between new foods.

  • Begin with single ingredient foods (if using store-bought baby foods).

  • Avoid honey, berries and egg whites for the first year.

  • Give your baby a sippy cup with water when he begins to sit in the high chair for meal times.  It introduces the idea of the sippy cup so when you are ready to wean from breast and/or bottle (around 12 months old) they already know how to use it.

  • Around 8 months old, begin to introduce finger foods (cheerios, rice krispies, cheese, sliced turkey, etc...)

  • It is recommended to take baby off the bottle by the age of one year.  The earlier you transition to a sippy cup, the easier it will be for baby and you.  Don't do it before your child is getting the majority of his nutrition from foods.

  • If your baby doesn't seem to like a particular food, it may take up to 30 introductions of the same food for baby to develop a taste for it.  Don't give up!!!

  • Make milk a priority.  As long as there is no allergy, children need at least two glasses of milk per day to build strong bones.  (Chocolate milk is ok if that's the only way you can get them to drink it!)

  • Try to avoid sodas and juice as much as possible.  The amount of sugar in them is huge!!

  • Teach healthy eating habits, such as eating a good breakfast, eating at the table and pride in eating healthy foods.  Let them show you their strong muscles from all those healthy foods!!

  • Don't engage in power struggles around food.  You'll never win a power struggle about food with a kid.  Teach good habits and then set limits around those good habits.  Don't force it!!

  • Don't expect your child to eat something from every food group at every meal.  Look at the bigger picture of their "daily" or even "weekly" intake. 

  • Avoid making things forbidden.  Kids will later try to get as much of the "forbidden fruits" as possible. 

  • Be flexible!  Kids are not likely to eat three large meals.  They will tend to eat 5 to 6 smaller meals.  Grazing is a natural way kids eat.  Be patient as long as kids are getting necessary nutrients.

  • Make meal times family times.  Spending time together around the dinner table is a wonderful way to teach kids that eating is important and to create positive associations with meal times.  Even if you're all sitting around the table having pizza or other take-out food together!  

*Check with your pediatrician to confirm that this information applies to your baby.

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