Most babies initially lose between five and nine percent of their birth weight but will regain it by the time they are two weeks old.
In the first month, your baby should gain five to 10 ounces a week and in months two and three continue to gain five to eight ounces a week.
Up until four to six months, your baby should be fed only formula or breast milk. Parents have the option of breastfeeding or using bottles with either breast milk or formula. Solid food should not be introduced yet because your baby’s digestive tract is still developing.
Reflexes such as the rooting reflex and sucking reflex can help you as a parent to pick up on hunger cues and feed your baby in response.
The rooting reflex is your baby’s search reflex for feeding. This reflex is triggered when you touch or stroke your newborn baby’s cheek, specifically along the side of his mouth. Your baby will turn his head toward the side being touched, open his mouth, and seek something to suck.
The sucking reflex comes when a finger, pacifier, or bottle touches the roof of your baby’s mouth. The sucking reflex will last for about three to four months after birth. It is an automatic response that helps your baby eat.
What your baby should be eating
0–3 weeks —Your baby should be drinking between one to three ounces every two to three hours, totaling about 8–12 feedings a day. An average baby should consume two to three ounces of formula or breast milk for every pound of body weight.
3 weeks–3 months—Your baby should be drinking three to four ounces and have between six and eight feedings a day.
3 months–6 months—Your baby should be drinking four to eight ounces and have between four and six feedings a day. At this time, your baby is sleeping through the night, so he will eat more in the morning and before bed.
Allergies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, coughing, and or sneezing. Food allergies are one of the most common ailments that can occur during this age. Pets and insects can also cause an allergic reaction in your baby. After giving your child a new food, wait three days before giving it to her again so you can better monitor her reaction to it and see if she is allergic.
Your baby will most likely be allergic to the same things as you are, so be cautious when giving those foods and be sure to monitor her reaction.
When breastfeeding, it is not always clear how much your baby has had to eat. Some signs that your baby is get ting enough nourishment are:
- Your breasts feel softer after nursing because they are less full of milk. After feeding, your baby seems relaxed and satisfied.
- Your baby has at least three bowel movements a day in the first month, and they are a yellowy mustard color.
Some signs that your baby is not getting enough nourishment are:
- Your baby is continuing to lose weight.
- Your baby does not reach his birth weight after five days of being born.
- After the first five days, your baby has small, dark stools.
- Your infant’s urine is very dark and is the color of apple juice.
- Feedings take longer than an hour.
- Your baby is fussy and tired most of the time.
Formula makes it easier to measure how much your infant has eaten; however, it is important not to overfeed your infant. If your baby seems like he is still hungry, only give him only an ounce more to eat and do not assume that every cry or sucking reflex is an indication that he is hungry. A sign your baby may still be hungry is if he finishes the bottle quickly and starts looking around for more.
If your baby is overfed, vomiting may occur. Tummy pain or discomfort may also be a sign that your baby is overfed. Infants show tummy pain by bringing their legs up to their tummies or tensing their bodies. Check with your doctor if you feel your baby is overfed; your doctor can check your baby’s weight.
Introducing Solid Foods
Between four and six months: you will start introducing solid foods. At this age, you can start looking for cues that your infant is ready for solid foods. Most babies start solid foods around six months old. Solid foods at this age consist of semiliquid cereals or pureed foods such as squash, apples, carrots, and potatoes. Begin gradually introducing solid food into your baby’s diet. Start the first day with one teaspoon of pureed food or cereal that has been mixed with formula or breast milk. If your child is resistant to solid foods, let him smell it or put a little on his lips and let him taste it and take a minute to think about it.
Between six and nine months: your baby should be eating six to eight ounces about six times a day, totaling 32 ounces. Continue to give your baby formula or breast milk until he is a year old. At this point, you can introduce a larger variety of solids such as pureed meats and other proteins. Increase solids at this point by ¼–½ cup total in two or three feedings.
Between nine and 12 months: your baby should be eating seven to eight ounces during each of three to five feedings a day, totaling 24 ounces. It is not uncommon for your baby to start drinking a little less formula or breast milk as more solids are introduced. At this age, you can start introducing mashed foods and finger foods. Examples of finger foods include ripe bananas, peaches, and well-cooked pasta. It is also a good time to introduce O-shaped cereal, crackers, or small pieces of soft, cutup bread to help with your child’s teething. You should see your child start moving his jaw in a chewing motion at this age. When your baby does not like something you of fer him or is full, he will usually arch his back or turn his head away from you. If your infant does not like one of the solid foods he is offered, try again in a couple of days.
When feeding your baby using bottles, it is important to be safe and attentive. Because your baby is still working on holding up his own head, he will need a lot of support.
Your baby should be propped up at a 45-degree angle while feeding, and you should keep bottles out of cribs and especially away from changing tables. Holding your baby while feeding is not only a great way to reduce the amount of air your baby swallows while eating, but is also a perfect opportunity for bonding.
Store unopened containers of formula at room temperature and always check the formula’s care instructions and expiration dates. Prepared bottles should be used immediately or refrigerated and given to your baby within 24 hours. Discard formula that your baby has not consumed within one hour. Do not use any harsh chemicals when washing bottles and nipples; soap and water are just fine.
Breast Milk Storage
Your breast milk changes as your baby develops, and it is important to use it as soon as possible after pumping it. The antioxidants in your breast milk are the most beneficial to your baby when the breast milk is fresh. It is also important to keep bottles clean and sterile.
When pumping breast milk, make sure to wash your hands and storage materials, as well as keep all storage materials in a dry, clean place. Because your breast milk is a bodily fluid, it is important that after you pump it you keep it between 60° F and 85° F (16° C–29° C), but only keep it for between six and eight hours. If you want to keep breast milk for 24 hours, you need to keep it fresh in a cooler with ice at 59° F (15° C) or freeze it. When thawing breast milk, run warm water over the container until the milk becomes slightly warm. Separation is normal and can be alleviated by gently shaking the container.
Do not use a microwave to heat the milk because it can create hot spots and burn your infant’s mouth and throat. It is important that you do not refreeze thawed milk or feed your infant breast milk that has been thawed for more than 24 hours.
If you are worried about wasting breast milk, start with four ounces of breast milk in each bottle and heat up more if he is hungry so you won’t have to throw away any unused breast milk.