Every experience with your newborn is going to involve a lot of trial and error, and nowhere is this truer than with feeding. Generations of parents have had to undergo the frustration of a baby that doesn’t want to play or do what the guides say they should be doing.
We are fully aware of this tricky area and believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, we have created the quick guide to feeding your baby, especially for new parents that may need a helping hand to get them started.
The First Decision
Before your baby is born, it is a good idea to decide if you plan to breastfeed or use formula. There has been much written about which is the best choice for your baby’s health, but you should choose an option that works best for you. Formula provides lots of the necessary nutrition, so mothers shouldn’t feel pressured to breastfeed.
Let’s Get Feeding
When your baby is born, they are going to want a lot of milk, regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed. In the case of breastfeeding, your newborn will probably feed for longer during the first days, before reducing the time. No worries, take the time to play around with different postures and times.
If you choose to bottle feed, you will need to be prepared with a supply of bottles and teats, all of which will require sterilizing. Just like breastfeeding, try different postures and spend time getting to know your baby. Some parents think by choosing formula, they will miss the opportunity to bond with the little one. However, this is simply not true.
Feeding is just one opportunity mothers have to bond with their little one, so if you choose to go for formula, dad will also get a chance to bond during feed times. Swaddling, carrying, bathing, playing, and comforting the little one when they are upset all provide ample opportunities to develop a loving and nurturing relationship with your baby.
Learn to Read the Signs
There are many guides out there that say what you should and shouldn’t do. One thing you do have to be careful with is what you initially feed your baby. During the first four months, your baby will be unable to take solids, so keep to liquids, and try to develop a routine that meets both you and your baby’s needs.
Your baby will tell you when they are hungry, and a refusal to eat doesn’t mean that there is a problem. If the little one doesn’t want to finish the bottle, then no problem. In the case of mothers who are breastfeeding, they may be responding to a change in the taste of the milk, which can be down to something you ate or changes in your hormones.
The key is to be patient and let your baby take the lead, as trying to force them to eat will be a frustrating experience for both of you.
From about four months onwards, it is possible to start introducing solids into your baby’s diet. There are several guidelines on what foods are appropriate, but the truth is that you and your baby will know best. Just try and keep it simple to start with and then see how your baby responds to more complex foods.
Regarding allergens such as fish and dairy, the sooner these foods are introduced, the better to help prevent the development of allergies. Again, let your baby guide you and monitor any reactions they have to these foods.