Infant Nutrition

Infant Nutrition

Choosing how to feed your baby has
life-long effects for your baby and for you. What you have seen and learned about infant
feeding from your family, friends, and teachers is likely to influence your attitude and
perceptions. Whether you definitely plan to breastfeed or you are still unsure, consider
the fact that your milk is the best milk for your baby. It is the ideal first food for your
baby’s first several months.

  • Breastfeeding. Nature designed human milk especially for human babies. It has
    several advantages over any substitute ever developed. Your milk has just the right
    balance of nutrients and it has them in a form most easily used by your baby’s
    immature body systems. Because it was made for your human baby, your milk is also the
    most gentle on your baby’s systems.

  • Bottle-feeding. If you decide not to breastfeed, or are unable to breastfeed,
    commercial iron-fortified formulas can provide adequate nutrition for your baby.
    Infant formulas have enough protein, calories, fat, vitamins, and minerals for
    growth. However, formula doesn’t have the immune factors that are in breast milk. The
    immune factors in breast milk can help prevent infections.

Babies who take enough iron-fortified
infant formula (over 1 liter a day) usually don’t need vitamin and mineral supplements.
Fluoride is sometimes needed after 6 months of age if the water supply doesn’t have enough
fluoride. Talk with your baby’s healthcare provider about the need for fluoride
supplements. If your baby is breastfed or still too small to drink enough formula, ask your
baby’s healthcare provider about vitamin D supplements.

Helpful hints for feeding your baby

These are some helpful hints for feeding your baby:

  • Breast milk is best for your baby and is beneficial even if you only breastfeed for a short amount of time, or part-time.

  • Cow’s milk-based infant
    formula with iron should be offered as the first choice of formula if you do not
    breastfeed.

  • Keep your baby on breast milk
    or infant formula until they are 1-year-old.

  • Start solid foods when your
    baby can hold up their head, sit-up with support, and no longer has tongue
    thrusting (4 to 6 months).

  • When starting solids, start with rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula on a spoon. Do not give solids in the bottle or with an infant feeder.

  • Once your baby is tolerating cereal, offer vegetables, then add fruits, and then meats.

  • Ask your baby’s healthcare
    provider about the best way to add new foods to your baby’s diet.

  • Progress in the texture of
    foods so that your baby is eating table foods by their first birthday.

  • Don’t give these foods to
    your baby during the first year of life:

    • Honey

    • Foods that can be easily choked on (like hot dogs, peanuts, grapes, raisins, or popcorn)

  • Unless your baby is known to
    have or has severe allergies (for instance, breaking out in hives, vomiting, or
    having trouble breathing), recent reports and studies have shown that introducing
    whole eggs and peanut butter at a young age—even at 4 to 6 months—reduces the
    chance of your baby developing allergies to these foods. Talk to your
    baby’s healthcare provider about whether these foods are appropriate for your
    baby.