If it seems as though your baby is always hungry, there's a reason. According to the Clemson University Cooperative Extension, during the first year of your baby's life, her birth weight triples as she goes through a stage of rapid growth. Making sure your baby gets adequate nutrition on an as-needed basis allows her to reach her full developmental potential.
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During the first 4 to 6 months of your baby's life, breast milk or baby formula should be the only source of your child's nutrition. Your newborn baby may always seem hungry because he needs frequent feedings, anywhere between eight to 12 each day, which means feeding every two to three hours, according to HealthyChildren.org. In his second and third months, feedings decrease to between six to eight daily. If you feed your baby formula, you might not have to feed as often because it takes formula longer than breast milk to digest.
Your baby's feeding schedule will change, according to the Nemours Foundation. Along with fewer feedings, your baby will eat more during each sitting. She'll also sleep for longer periods of time during the night. Your baby might require additional nutrition as she goes through growth spurts, when her appetite is increased. These growth spurts occur 10 to 14 days after birth; at three and six weeks; and again at three and six months. According to the Nemours Foundation, you should continue feeding your baby whenever she's hungry, increasing the number of feedings if necessary.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, formula-fed newborns usually consume between 2 and 3 ounces of formula at a time; breastfed babies consume smaller amounts of breast milk at more frequent intervals. At one month of age, your baby consumes at least 4 ounces of formula per feeding, and by the age of six months, he consumes between 6 and 8 ounces per feeding. Breast milk is preferred to baby formula, according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and the WIC program. However, If you breast-feed exclusively, your little one may need a vitamin D supplement, but if she's a bottle feeder, she might need additional iron. Most doctors recommend that bottle-fed infants have iron-fortified baby formula.
A Healthy Baby
Trust your baby's instincts when it comes to feeding, according to HealthyChildren.org; don't worry about the exact amount of breast milk or formula she gets or how often or how long she wants to be fed. Simply feed her when she's hungry, and keep an eye out for signs of underfeeding. Your baby might not be getting adequate nutrition if she doesn't gain weight, seems lethargic, isn't interested in the breast or bottle, or goes through fewer than six to eight diapers daily. A healthy infant gains between 4 and 7 ounces every week.
Stick only to breast milk or baby formula for the first four to six months of your baby's life. Infants under 12 months shouldn't have cow's milk, according to the Clemson University Cooperative Extension. You can integrate soft solids into your baby's diet somewhere around 4 and 6 months of age, depending on when he loses the tongue thrust pattern that causes him to reflexively push spoons and other solid objects out of his mouth. Before you give your baby solid foods, make sure that he can sit with minimal assistance and hold his head up independently.
- HealthyChildren.org: How Often and How Much Should Your Baby Eat?
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Feeding Your Infant
- Nemours Foundation: Feeding Your 1- to 3- Month Old
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Amount and Schedule of Formula Feedings
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service: Breastfeeding Promotion in WIC: Current Federal Requirements