Breast-Feeding Steps for Success
Breast-feeding is very good for both infants and mothers. It is best for a woman to learn as much as she can about feeding her baby breast milk, before she gives birth. This fact sheet contains tips on breast-feeding.
Good Things About Breast-Feeding
Good For Mothers:
- It saves money. The cost is about $0.39/day and keeps your baby healthy.
- Protects against cancer.
- Helps mother lose weight and get back into shape.
- Provides bonding and cuddling with baby.
Good For Infants:
- Easier to digest
- Less likely to have allergies
- Fewer ear infections
- Diapers smell better
Steps For Success
- Talk to women who have breast-fed well in the past.
- Breast-feed your baby as soon as you can after you give birth. You should begin within the first hour. Even though the mother will not be making enough milk, her breasts contain a thin fluid that helps protect her baby from getting sick.
- Feed on demand. Newborns need to eat often. Breast-feed at least every three hours in the beginning. Many newborns will want to nurse every 11/2 to 2 hours. Breast milk is easier for a baby to digest than formula, so breast-fed babies will eat more often than those who feed from a bottle. New babies may nurse 10 to 12 times a day.
- Avoid extras like sugar water. Some babies get confused when a bottle is given to them early on. Sugar water offers little that is helpful and may make the baby not want to nurse. Bottle milk given in the first few days can reduce both the baby’s hunger and the mother’s milk.
- Supply and demand–the more the baby nurses, the more milk the mother will make.
- Delay use of plastic nipples. So the baby does not get confused, wait a week or two after the baby is born before giving him/her a pacifier. Plastic nipples require a different sucking action than real ones.
Good Health While Breast Feeding
- To breast-feed her baby, a woman needs to eat 500 extra calories each day while she is nursing.
- Women who are nursing should choose three to four servings of foods from the milk, yogurt, and cheese group daily. Use the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide in selecting healthy food choices.
- Use caution if smoking, drinking, or taking pills. These things may pass into the mother’s milk.
Quick Guide to Solid Food
Remember all babies are different, this list is only a guide to help you get started.
|4-6 months||Baby cereal (iron-fortified)||1||1-2 tbsp.|
|6-8 months||Baby cereal||2||2-4 tbsp.|
|Fruit juice||1||3 oz.(from cup)|
|8-12 months||Cheese||–||1/2 oz.|
|Plain yogurt||Offer||1/2 cup|
|Cottage cheese||–||1/4 cup|
|Baby cereal||2-3||2-4 tbsp.|
|Bread or||2-3||1/2 slice|
|Fruit juice||1||3 oz. (from cup)|
|Chopped meats||2||3-4 tbsp.|
Solid Food: Ready or Not?
Most babies only need breast milk or formula for the first 4 to 6 months. If you feel your baby needs solid food before this, consult with your doctor.
Baby is Ready for Solid Food if
- Birth weight has doubled.
- Can hold own head up.
- Can sit with help.
- Shows interest in foods you are eating.
- Nurses more than 8 times a day or drinks more than 32 ounces of formula.
How to Start
The first time you try to feed your baby, it may not go well, but here are some things to remember to make it easier.
- Pick a time when both you and baby are in a good mood and he/she is not too tired or too hungry.
- Hold your baby on your lap or have the baby sit up in an infant seat.
- Start with rice cereal. This is easiest on the baby’s stomach. A tablespoon mixed with 3 or 4 tablespoons of formula or breast milk is all you need at first. Keep the cereal very thin.
- Use a small spoon and put cereal only on the tip.
- If the baby has trouble swallowing, he/she may not be ready for solids yet. Wait a few days and try again.
- Feed the baby the same cereal for one week before changing to another flavor.
- After your baby is used to cereal, you can begin adding vegetables, fruits, meat, and bread.
- Try one new food at a time, for several days, to make sure the baby is not allergic to any foods.
- Stick to single foods first, then try mixed foods and dinners.
- When the baby starts getting teeth, add finely chopped or mashed foods. Texture helps sore gums.
- At 6 months, start offering juice in a cup only. NEVER put juice in a bottle. An infant, put to bed or naps with a bottle containing juice, is at risk for developing baby bottle tooth decay.
- If your baby will not eat a particular food, try it again later. The more you offer a food a child, the better chance he/she has of liking it.
- Babies do not need sugar or salt added to their food.
- Do not limit the amount of fat in a baby’s diet. Fat is needed for the brain to grow.
- Around 9-12 months, give finger foods. Ripe, peeled fruit, or soft, cooked vegetables are good choices.
Keep Baby’s Formula Safe
If you have decided it is best for you to formula feed your baby, you need to know the right ways to mix the formula, and how to make and keep the bottles safe. Use these tips to help your baby start out on the right path to good health.
Step by Step Guide to Use as You Make Baby’s Formula Safe
- Wash your hands with soap and hot water.
- Wash all bottle items: bottles, nipples, covers, can openers, and other things, inside and out, in hot, soapy water. Rinse and let air dry. Wipe off the formula can each time you use it.
- Before you mix the formula, boil the water you will use with formula for at least five minutes.
- Use the type of formula suggested by your doctor. Follow the doctor’s instructions and use strict measurements when you make the formula.
- Fill each bottle with formula for just one feeding.
- Make only bottles needed for one day and do not keep made up bottles longer than 48 hours.
- Make sure the made up bottles are kept between 35-40°F until ready to use. Any formula left outside the refrigerator, or a cold cooler, for more than two hours is spoiled and should be thrown out.
- You may heat the bottle of formula so that it is warm to the touch, but not hot. If you want to heat the bottle, you should place the made up bottle in a pan filled with water and heat it on the stove. If you choose to heat the bottle in the microwave, make sure that the bottle is not too hot. Microwaves cause hot spots in food and liquid. Test the formula before you feed it to your baby, it may feel warm, but as the baby drinks, he or she may burn his/her tongue or throat from formula in a hot spot. To be safe, heat 6-8 ounce refrigerated bottles for 30-45 seconds and 4 ounce refrigerated bottles for 25-30 seconds. In addition, shake the bottle after heating and let it sit for a minute or two before testing it and feeding it to your infant.
Making Baby Food
Making your own baby food is a healthy, cheaper choice than buying baby food. It is also very easy to do.
You will need
- Something to mash or grind the food such as: food grinder, blender, potato masher, or fork.
- Quality food without added sugar, salt, or fat.
- Containers for storage like clean, dry jars, plastic storage containers, or ice cube trays.
What to do
- Wash hands and equipment well with hot, soapy water and dry.
- Wash fruits and vegetables and remove skin and seeds. Remove bones and all visible fat from meat.
- Bake, boil, or steam food until tender.
- Use food grinder, blender, potato masher, or fork to mash until smooth. Throw away any lumps or hard pieces.
- If necessary, add liquid (water, formula, or breast milk) to thin-out thick foods.
- Pour into labeled and dated containers, and store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
Reviewed by: Alma M. Saddam, PhD, RD, Extension Specialist, Nutrition.
|Food||In Refrigerator||In Freezer|
|Fruits & Vegetables||2 to 3 days||6 to 8 months|
|Meats or Egg Yolks||1 day||1 to 2 months|
|Meat & Vegetable|
|1 to 2 days||3 to 4 months|
Food for the Toddler Years
Some keys to good nutrition for two-to-four year olds (toddlers) include
- consume a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid
- plan menus
- use proper serving sizes
- make meal and snack times enjoyable
The Food Guide Pyramid focuses on
- good nutrition for people ages two and up
- five food groups and a fats and sweets group
- eating a variety of foods
- setting serving sizes
To use the Food Guide Pyramid with your toddler keep the same number of servings from each group, but give smaller than adult-size servings
- 6-11 servings of bread
- 3-5 servings of vegetables
- 2-4 servings of fruit
- 2-3 servings of milk
- 2-3 servings of meat
- fats and sweets used sparingly
A good rule for serving sizes for toddlers is 1 tablespoon per year of age or 1/4 of an adult serving per year of age
- One serving of milk for a two-year-old would be 1/2 cup.
- One serving of cooked carrots for a three-year-old would be 3 tablespoons.
- One serving of ground beef for tacos for a four year old would be 4 tablespoons.
- One serving of bread for a two-year-old would be 1/2 slice.
For times when one food, or group of foods, is the only item a child will eat
- The food may be peanut butter, cereal, bananas, or some other favorite.
- This is normal and the child will grow out of it.
- Often the child is in a resting stage of the growth process.
- The best way to get through this period is to offer the child many foods, providing his or her special food now and then.
- When the child is hungry, he or she will eat, no matter what food is served.
Choices for a healthy future
- Eating should be a good experience.
- Some children do not want to try new foods.
- Try to offer just one new food at a time and do not mix foods.
- Serving one favorite food with one new food often helps a child to try the new food.
- Try to offer fun foods that children can eat with their fingers.
- Let the toddlers help to prepare the foods. Little ones can sprinkle cheese, place raisins on top, spread peanut butter, use cookie cutters to form unique shapes in bread, shake up beverages, and roll up tortillas.
Good food at a young age plays a role later in life, and our children are only toddlers once.