Child Care: Feeding Your Baby


A bottle-fed baby needs, each day, two and a half ounces of milk mixture for every pound of his own weight. In practice, he may need a little more than this. Your baby's appetite may serve as an indicator of the amount of milk he needs. The breast-fed baby will simply take larger feeds as he needs them and the supply will adjust itself. His weight will show how well he is thriving. The average gain over the first three months is six to eight ounces per week; from three to six months he should gain four to six ounces a week and from six to twelve months, three to four ounces a week. If he is gaining weight steadily, is contented at the end of a feed, sleeps well and has normal gestures, you have nothing to worry about. If he is underfed, he will fail to gain weight, he may cry between feeds and have frequent small, constipated motors. The normal breast-fed baby's motions look like fresh mustard. At first, they may occur after every feed, but within a month or so, they become less frequent, perhaps only once or twice a week. This is because breast milk is so easily assimilated that there is very little waste. A bottle-fed baby has paler, more formed motions, usually occurring everyday or twice a day.

Some babies do well on a rigid schedule, but babies are not machines and it seems reasonable to aim at a roughly four-hourly timetable. You can modify your schedule to fit the baby's needs and your own. That is, if he wakes up early and is hungry, feed him. In fact, if he is breast-fed, this is the best way to increase the milk supply. On the other hand, if he sleeps past his feed time, you need not wake him up. Of course, he should not be fed every time he cries. Soon you will come to recognize the cry of hunger; once he settles down, it will probably occur every three or four hours. It seems pointless to leave him screaming when he is hungry – he will only swallow air and be unable to take the feed properly when it comes. The same applies to night feeds. A baby does not distinguish night from day. He only knows that he is hungry. When he can take enough to satisfy him, he will sleep through the night. In the meantime, you will not spoil him by giving him his feed. It gives him security to know that he will be fed when he is hungry.

Round about four months, the baby will be ready for his first taste of foods other then milk. These should be introduced very gradually beginning at one feed in the day and allowing several days for the baby to get accustomed to one new flavor before giving him another.

Weaning can be at any convenient time. At five to six months, the baby will be learning to drink rather than suck and he can be weaned straight to a cup. You can use boiled fresh milk, full cream dried milk or evaporated milk. If you substitute one breast feed a week, the milk supply will automatically dwindle with the less demands on it. Should the breast become overfull at anytime, you can express a little or give the next feed early.

By six months, the baby will be ready for more variety in his meals and to experiment with chewing. By seven to eight months, he can go on to three meals a day and by his first birthday, he will be one of the family at meal times and trying to feed himself.


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