Age: From Birth to 4 months
- Rooting reflex helps your baby turn toward a nipple to find nourishment
What to feed
- Breast milk or formula ONLY – A baby within this age bracket requires exclusive breastfeeding or formula in cases where his mother is considered medically unfit to breastfeed or is constrained by some factors beyond her control.
How can I tell whether my baby is getting enough breast milk?
There are times when babies don't get enough breast milk. When this situation is not addressed, a baby can suffer from dehydration and failure to thrive both of which are uncommon but serious.
Signs that your breastfeeding baby is getting enough nourishment:
- Your breasts feel softer after nursing, because your baby has emptied some of the milk that was making them firm.
- After a feeding, your baby seems relaxed and satisfied.
- After gaining back her initial weight loss after birth, your baby continues to gain weight. (Most babies lose between 5 and 9 percent of their birth weight and then regain it by the time they're about 2 weeks old.) A rough guideline: In the first month, your baby should gain 5 to 10 ounces (142g to 284g) a week; in months 2 and 3, she should gain 5 to 8 ounces (142g to 227g) a week; in months 3 to 6, she should gain between 2.5 and 4.5 ounces (71g and 127g) a week; and from 6 to 12 months, she should put on 1 to 3 ounces (28g to 85g) a week.
- In the first few days, when your baby is getting your thick, valuable colustrum, she may have only one or two wet diapers a day. After your milk comes in, though, your baby will wet six to eight cloth diapers a day, or five or six disposables. (Disposables can hold more liquid than cloth diapers.)
- In the first month, your baby has at least three stools a day, and they lighten to a yellowy mustard color by the fifth day after birth. She may have less frequent bowel movements once she's a month old. In fact, it's not uncommon for breastfed babies to skip a day of bowel movements now and then. Once she's eating solid foods, at about 6 months, she'll probably become quite regular and go back to having at least one bowel movement a day.
How much per day
In the first four to six months when your baby is not eating any solids, here's a simple rule of thumb: Offer 2.5 ounces (70.9g) of formula per pound of body weight each day.
For example, if your baby weighs 6 pounds (2.7kg) you will give her about 15 ounces (425g) of formula in a 24-hour period. If she weighs 10 pounds (4.5kg), you'll give her about 25 ounces (708g) in a 24-hour period.
These numbers are not rigid rules. They give you an overall average for what your baby is likely to require. His daily feedings will vary according to his individual needs – in other words, he may want a bit more on some days and a bit less on others.
• Your baby's digestive tract is still developing, so solid food is off-limits for now.
Age: 4 to 6 months
Signs of readiness for solid food
Your baby probably won't do all these things – they are just clues to watch for.
- Can hold head up
- Sits well in highchair
- Makes chewing motions
- Shows significant weight gain (birth weight has doubled) and weighs about 13 pounds or more
- Shows interest in food
- Can close mouth around a spoon
- Can move food from front to back of mouth
- Can move tongue back and forth, but is losing tendency to push food out with tongue
- Seems hungry after 8 to 10 feedings of breast milk or 40 oz. of formula in a day
- Is teething
What to feed
- Breast milk or formula, PLUS
- Pureed (mashed) food or semi-liquid iron-fortified cereal
How much per day
- Begin with about 1 teaspoon pureed food or cereal. Mix cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons breast milk or formula (it will be very runny).
- Increase to 1 tablespoon of pureed food, or 1 tablespoon of cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, twice a day. If giving cereal, gradually thicken the consistency by using less liquid.
- If your baby won't eat what you're offering on the first try, offer it again in a few days.