Infant Nutrition and Feeding: First Year of Life
Kathy Hansen, Parent Educator
“The experience of learning to feed an infant is more than getting food into your baby. It is an intimate, emotional, and reciprocal process that becomes the framework for a healthy parent-child attachment. It is more than teaching your baby to eat. Rather, the feeding process builds a relationship between mother/father and baby that fosters positive, healthy attitudes and behaviors for eating.” Ellen Satter*
Learning about Food, Nutrition and Eating
Begin by feeding your baby when she first tells you she is hungry, before she begins crying hard. The following tips were taken from the website www.Zerotothree.org
- Learn to follow your baby’s signals (cues) about when she is hungry.
- Always hold your baby securely and look at each other during feeding times.
- Whether feeding your baby breast milk or formula, your baby will decide how much to eat. All babies know how much to eat whether it is a lot or little. She will stop eating when she is full. Allow your baby to tell you when she is done.
- When feeding with a bottle, hold the bottle at an appropriate angle. Always hold your baby and feed him the bottle, encouraging him with soothing words and smiles.
- Be sure the nipple allows the milk to flow at an appropriate speed.
- Talk and smile, but don’t overwhelm your baby with attention.
- Stop the feeding when your baby refuses the nipple or indicates satiety and lack of interest in eating by turning away, refusing to open her mouth, or arching her back.
- Let your baby pause, rest socialize and go back to eating.
- Babies eat the best on demand. This is so they can double their birth weight at 6 months and triple their birth weight at one year of age.
- Begin with iron fortified rice cereal and graduate to oat cereal. In some babies the rice can be binding (constipating). Continue to offer an iron fortified cereal even after you give your baby other solid foods. It’s a great source of iron for your baby.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can start solids sometime between 4-6 months, once your baby is showing signs of being ready by:
- sitting up by himself,
- noticing what you’re eating,
- is able to put the food to the back of her tongue. Begin with just a teaspoon or less when you are first introducing solids and then slowly increase it a tablespoon or more as your baby gets the hang of eating solid foods.
Begin with rice cereal, oatmeal or barley cereal and then introduce strained vegetables, fruits, and lastly the meats.
Whose Job Is It?
Let your baby be your guide. Go by what your baby can do, not how old he/she is. There is also no timetable, according to author Ellen Sather. Your baby will move along at her own pace and the ages listed in the guides are only averages when she might be ready.
Ellen Satter believes in a division of responsibility in feeding. Parents provide structure, support and opportunities. The parent is responsible for what is served. Your baby chooses how much and whether to eat from what the parents provide.
Be patient and persistent, but don’t ever pressure. It takes children many times before they learn to enjoy it. In the meantime they watch us, so enjoy your meals too!
*"Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family", by Ellen Satter
*"Child of Mine", by Ellen Satter
*"How To Get Your Kids to Eat", by Ellen Satter