Before your child is born, you begin to think about choices for feeding your child. From breastfeeding or formula to buying prepared baby food or making your own baby food, the first few years are filled with many options for feeding your little one. Good nutrition is extremely important from the first day of your baby’s life and sets the stage for health and diet that will continue into their early childhood years and beyond.
Breast feeding or formula feeding is one of the first choices that a new mommy will decide. Many mom’s choose to nurse their baby’s but even breastfed infants may need to take a bottle from time to time. Deciding when to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby can be emotional for the mommy and possibly frustrating for the baby, but having patience and taking it slow will help with the adjustment. Also understanding that breastfed babies have a different sucking pattern and require a different type of bottle and nipple will make a big difference on your breastfeeding journey.
Choosing to use formula is the beginning of several choices you will need to make. Picking the right formula can be overwhelming with so many different options on the market, including deciding if an organic formula is the way to go for your newborn. Talking to your pediatrician will help guide you to the right choice for your new baby.
A few other things to consider once you decide to formula feed include warming their bottle or giving it straight out of the fridge, which is a personal choice, but if you decide to warm it, you can purchase a bottle warmer to save time. And let’s face it… when you have a hangry infant,, every second counts!
Other important items to consider when bottle feeding include either a good bottle soap or a bottle sterilizer. And after going through a pandemic, we are all more focused on germs so protecting the littlest babes will give you ease of mind. Also having a drying rack for the bottles is a good idea because trust me… you will be washing and drying many, many bottles the first year of your little one’s life.
Newborns can sometimes have tummy troubles that can continue for the first few months. It can be exhausting when you are lacking sleep and dragging from caring for a fussy baby. Sometimes the reflux require a special formula for those gas issues or even gas drops can help soothe those upset bellies. Finding the right solution can require time and patience but once you settle those achy tummies, you will see your fussy infant transform. Plus you will finally catch some extra zzzz’s which is icing on the cake.
Switching to Solids for Infants
As your little one gets to a certain age, usually around 4-6 months, your pediatrician will suggest adding solids to their diet. If your baby is able to hold their head and neck up, sit without support, show an interest in what you are eating, and begin to reach for food, then those are the signs that it may be time to introduce baby food to your infant. Once again, there are choices to be made as far as deciding how and when to start those first foods for your baby. Some parents decide that using store bought baby food is the way to go, while others decide that they will go the organic route for their infants.
There are also families who decide to make their own baby food, which is actually not that difficult, especially if you are preparing fruits and veggies for your family already. Plus it makes you look and feel like Super Mom. The key to making your own food is using either a blender or a baby food maker to make the process much easier. Whatever direction you go with feeding your growing baby, start by introducing one food at a time and picking a time when the baby is happy and not fussy are key to the transition to the world of solids.
As your infant begins to eat solids, they will also begin the progression to eating with the family at the dinner table. Eating together, even at a young age, has many positive benefits for your baby including better parent-child relationships, connectedness to others, develop good eating habits, and learning valuable social skills. One important item to have as your little one joins more actively in meal time is a high chair.
There are things to consider when purchasing a high chair, such as space. Some families prefer a full size high chair, while others need space saving high chairs. Chairs that hook directly onto the table or even booster seats are other great options for small spaces. Having your baby join the family around the table is an important aspect of their development so choose a seat that involves them at meal time.
Feeding your Toddler
Toddlers may get a little more challenging at meal time, but having structure will help as they continue learning good eating habits. As your infant is transitioning to the toddler years, you will begin to see them want more independence in eating. Budding toddlers want to “do it themselves” and using the right tools can help them begin to self feed. Teaching them to use a spoon properly and using a proper toddler plate are ways to make meal time easier for those tots become more self sufficient. They will also start to transition from bottles into sippy cups which can potentially be messy so check out our list to find a good non spill option. Toddlers are messy enough without adding liquid pouring all over your floor.
Sometimes your toddler may not want to eat their fruits or veggies anymore, but continue encouraging the healthy foods by offering those first, adding dips with the fruits and veggies, or even adding them into other foods. Forcing them to eat the foods that they once loved but now refuse to eat can cause them to dislike those foods even more. For some toddler feeding tips, check out the article How to Get Toddlers to Eat Vegetables. Staying positive and patient will help you both survive toddlerhood.