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A Smooth Transition: Feeding Your Baby From Birth to Birthday
8/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
A Smooth Transition

Babies are ever-changing in their first year of life. Think of the adorable facial expressions and milestones they meet—smiling, cooing, learning to sit, holding a spoon and eventually learning to feed themselves.

Birth to 3 months:

Most full-term babies are prepared to breastfeed in the first few hours of life. Babies get all the nutrition and hydration they need by breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding.  They do not need extra water at this time. There are additional benefits of breastfeeding beyond nutrition, but there are many great formulas if that is not in your plan.  Talk to your pediatrician to find the right one for your child.  It may take a few trials.  Plan to feed your baby formula for the first year, then switch to whole milk. Breastfeeding babies may continue to nurse beyond one year of age.

3-6 months: 

Breastfeeding and bottle feeding are still the main source of nutrition/hydration. Many babies hold a bottle independently around five months of age. Their mouths and digestive systems are preparing for the upcoming baby cereals, pureed foods, easily mashed foods and soft meltables appropriate around the six-month mark.  Provide them with chew toys (with supervision) and increased tummy time to prepare for the first bites. Watch for signs of feeding readiness.

6 months: 

The American Academy of Pediatrics sets this age as a standard benchmark for introducing solid foods. This is because your baby is typically sitting up with ease and has a better-prepared digestive system by now. These first bites are just a supplement to the breastmilk or formula so give small servings (1-2 teaspoons) initially. To decrease a preference for sweets, start with pureed vegetables instead of fruits and present them one at a time (with a shallow bowl spoon). Don’t add salt or sugar to the food. Rotate a new veggie into the mix every few days once you have time to monitor for any reactions. Be patient—it may take 8-15 presentations before a baby accepts a new food. Some people recommend you skip purees altogether, but pureed solids do allow babies to positively experience a variety of foods while following the normal pattern of development—babies learn to swallow before they learn to chew. Once they get the hang of purees, you can begin mashing foods for more texture and giving them soft meltables (ex. puffs), as tolerated.  

6-12 months: 

Teeth start to come in; chewing develops and coordination improves. Your baby may hold and bang her own spoon around nine months old and will start to grab food off the tray. Keep offering a variety of fruits and vegetables and add in soft meats and grains. They are ready to begin self-feeding solids (ex. banana, avocado slice, mashed blueberries, soft cookies, steamed vegetables, soft fruits, pasta, casseroles and very tender meats). Prepare for a big mess and give them praise as they explore the new foods. By their first birthday, they should tolerate a safe version of most of the foods on an adult’s plate. Strive to have a variety of healthy, colorful foods at each meal.  

Stephanie Kestel Karpovs is a speech-language pathologist/pediatric feeding specialist and wellness coach.  She enjoys helping families become happy, healthy and adventurous eaters.

When is it time for a sippy cup? 

Just skip it! These spouted, "no spill” cups are not part of the developmental process no matter what the packages say. They were designed by an engineer to prevent spills and they can actually hinder appropriate swallowing and dental development. Instead, opt for small, assisted cup sips of breastmilk or formula from an open cup. At 12 months, most kids should be drinking from open cups and straws—water is the healthiest and easiest to clean option!

Posted by: Stephanie Kestel Karpovs | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting

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