When it comes to feeding your baby, everybody seems to have an opinion, from your mother-in-law to your partner to perfect strangers who peek and coo at your baby. Mixed in with the valuable information are lots of myths and misconceptions. Here are what experts in infant nutrition consider the most important facts for new parents to keep in mind.
There’s a strong link between getting important nutrients and normal development.
Breast milk combined with a healthy diet for the mom offers the nutrition standard for infants, custom-designed to meet the needs of your baby, with important fatty acids and easily digestible proteins and carbs, plus vitamins and minerals that support normal brain development and overall growth. Infant formulas are patterned after breast milk. Choose an infant formula with an expert recommended level of DHA (a type of Omega-3 fat). DHA helps support normal physical brain and eye development.
Newborns need lots of fat to fuel their rapid growth and brain development.
Both breast milk and DHA enriched formulas offer fats such as DHA (a type of Omega-3 fat). At the start of each feeding, the breast milk, called foremilk, is low in fat. As the feeding progresses, the breast milk gets fattier, and the very rich hindmilk is released toward the end of a feeding. The foremilk allows a baby who is simply thirsty to hydrate, while a baby who’s truly hungry will suckle long enough to obtain the richer, fattier hindmilk.
Yes, it’s exhausting for you, but newborns need to feed.
A newborn’s stomach is small and can only take in so much at one feeding. Plus, the first weeks are a period of incredible growth, requiring a lot of energy. As a result, breast-fed newborns nurse every two to three hours, and formula feeders need to eat every three to four hours.
You can use clues to make sure your baby is getting enough breast milk or formula.
During the first month, about six or more wet diapers and three to four bowel movements a day are good signs that your baby is getting enough nourishment.
Your baby’s doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement.
Experts like the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend giving all breastfed babies a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day from birth to 2 years of age.
Stick to breast milk, formula, or a combination of both.
Your newborn does not need water, juice, cow’s milk, or other fluids. As a newborn, your baby not only does not need any solid foods (like infant cereal) but giving it can be dangerous. Your baby’s mouth, tongue, and digestive system haven’t developed to the point where solids can be safely ingested.
Take care of yourself along with your baby.
If you are breast-feeding, you are still eating for two, and both of you need to have good nutrition. Eat healthfully, and get plenty of fluids, iron, calcium, and DHA. If you’re nourishing your baby with formula, it’s still important that you have a healthful diet so you can stay at your best—with plenty of energy to nurture your baby in her amazing development.