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INFANCY: Healthy Weight/Healthy Nutrition/Physical Activity

SECTIONS: Healthy Feeding Choices ~ Breastfeeding Basics ~ Formula-Feeding Basics ~ New Foods and New Skills—Around 6 Months ~ Babies Need to be Active, Too!

mother breast-feeding her babyHealthy Feeding Choices

  • Your baby depends on you to make good feeding choices for him. Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition and protection from illness. It helps mothers lose pregnancy weight, and offers some protection against breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Most national organizations recommend that all babies breastfeed exclusively for about the first six months of life, if possible. Recommendations also include that breastfeeding continue with nutritious solid food for a full year and as long after as you and your baby want to.
  • You'll quickly learn how to recognize when your baby is hungry—and when she's had enough. Let her take the lead.


Breastfeeding Basics

  • Your new baby should nurse 8-12 times in 24 hours and long enough to satisfy him.
  • You'll know your breastfed baby is getting enough by checking for wet diapers (6-8 a day), bowel movements (1-3 a day), and checking his growth at regular visits to the health care provider.
  • Go over breastfeeding practices with your health care provider, lactation specialist, or La Leche League Leader. They'll have tips for breastfeeding and breast care. This is especially true if you have a baby with special health needs.
  • If you take any medications or use alcohol or smoke, be sure to discuss this with your health care provider since these can cause problems for your baby.
  • If you wish to introduce a bottle to your breastfeeding baby, pick a time when she is not overly hungry or full. Have someone other than you offer the bottle. Wait until breastfeeding is well established, usually around 4 to 6 weeks.


Formula-Feeding Basics

  • If formula-feeding, ask your health care provider what type of formula to use, how to prepare it, how often to feed, and necessary equipment. Remember, microwaving is not a good idea since milk may heat unevenly and become too hot.
  • Feeding is a special time to interact with your baby. Hold your baby during feedings and talk to him. Don't prop the bottle.


New Foods and New Skills—Around 6 Months

  • Around 6 months your baby may be ready to drink from a cup, with help. Limit juice to 4 ounces per day. Avoid sodas and artificially flavored "fruit" drinks. These drinks do not provide good nutrition for growth.
  • Do not offer food other than breast milk or formula until your baby is ready (around the middle of her first year). She should:
    • Be able to sit with arm support and have good head and neck control
    • No longer push food out of her mouth with her tongue
    • "Tell you" she wants more by leaning forward with an open mouth
  • Give him opportunities to feed himself—even if he makes a mess.
  • Choose finger foods your baby will not choke on.
  • Help your baby get used to new food tastes and textures. You may have to offer a food many times before she will learn to accept and enjoy it.


Babies Need to be Active, Too!

  • Tummy time for play is important. Wait a few minutes after a feeding to start. Set up toys and things to look at while your baby is pushing up on his tummy.
  • Infant car seats and infant carriers are important safety devices, but babies need plenty of time out of those seats and carriers, too.