From birth, infants follow their
internal hunger and fullness cues. They eat when they're hungry and stop eating
when they're full. Experts agree that newborns should be fed on demand. This
means that you breast- or bottle-feed your infant whenever he or she shows
signs of hunger, rather than setting a strict schedule. You let your infant
stop feeding at will, even if there is milk left in the bottle or your breast
still feels full.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast-feeding
babies for at least the first year and giving only breast milk for the first 6
months.1 Although breast-fed babies get the best possible nutrition, they will probably need certain vitamin or nutritional supplements to maintain or improve their health, especially iron.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free children’s preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests. Learn more.
If you are unable to or
choose not to breast-feed, feed your baby commercially prepared iron-fortified
formula. In some cases, doctors advise adding a thickening agent to breast milk or formula. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before using one.
If at any time you are having trouble feeding your baby, talk to your doctor or nurse.
Cow's milk, goat's
milk, and soy milk are not appropriate for babies younger than 1 year of age.
They do not contain the amounts of fat, iron, and other nutrients that very
young babies need in order to grow and develop properly. Also, the protein in
cow's and goat's milk is very hard for young babies to digest.
your baby reaches 6 months of age, you can begin adding other foods besides
breast milk or infant formula to your baby's diet. You and your baby can make
this transition smoothly if you follow these tips:
Start with very soft foods, such as baby cereal. Iron-fortified, single-grain baby cereals are a good
choice, because they provide the iron a growing baby needs and have a low risk
of causing food allergies.
Introduce one new food at a time. This
can help you know if your baby has an allergy to a certain food. You can
introduce a new food every 2 to 3 days.
As soon as your baby is
eating solid foods, look for signs that he or she is still hungry or is
Pay close attention to your baby's reaction when you are
feeding him or her. Follow your baby's lead. Don't persist if your baby isn't
interested in or doesn't like the food. Generally:
A baby who eagerly leans toward the spoon
with his or her mouth open is clearly interested in what you are offering. Feed
him or her more.
A baby who turns or looks away from the spoon
isn't interested in the food you are offering or is full and is ready to stop
Continue to offer breast milk or infant formula as part of
your baby's diet until he or she is at least 12 months old.