Feeding babies and toddlers
When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods | Nutrition
For more information about how to know if your baby is ready to starting eating foods, what first foods to offer, and what to expect, watch these videos from 1,000 Days.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children be introduced to foods other than breast milk or infant formula when they are about 6 months old. Introducing foods before 4 months old is not recommended. Every child is different. How do you know if your child is ready for foods other than breast milk or infant formula? You can look for these signs that your child is developmentally ready.
- Sits up alone or with support.
- Is able to control head and neck.
- Opens the mouth when food is offered.
- Swallows food rather than pushes it back out onto the chin.
- Brings objects to the mouth.
- Tries to grasp small objects, such as toys or food.
- Transfers food from the front to the back of the tongue to swallow.
What Foods Should I Introduce to My Child First?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that for most children, you do not need to give foods in a certain order. Your child can begin eating solid foods at about 6 months old. By the time he or she is 7 or 8 months old, your child can eat a variety of foods from different food groups. These foods include infant cereals, meat or other proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, yogurts and cheeses, and more.
If your child is eating infant cereals, it is important to offer a variety of fortifiedalert icon infant cereals such as oat, barley, and multi-grain instead of only rice cereal. Only providing infant rice cereal is not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration because there is a risk for children to be exposed to arsenic. Visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administrationexternal icon to learn more.
How Should I Introduce My Child to Foods?
Your child needs certain vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong.
Now that your child is starting to eat food, be sure to choose foods that give your child all the vitamins and minerals they need.
Click here to learn more about some of these vitamins & minerals.
Let your child try one single-ingredient food at a time at first. This helps you see if your child has any problems with that food, such as food allergies. Wait 3 to 5 days between each new food. Before you know it, your child will be on his or her way to eating and enjoying lots of new foods.
Introduce potentially allergenic foods when other foods are introduced.
Potentially allergenic foods include cow’s milk products, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, and sesame. Drinking cow’s milk or fortified soy beverages is not recommended until your child is older than 12 months, but other cow’s milk products, such as yogurt, can be introduced before 12 months. If your child has severe eczema and/or egg allergy, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse about when and how to safely introduce foods with peanuts.
How Should I Prepare Food for My Child to Eat?
At first, it’s easier for your child to eat foods that are mashed, pureed, or strained and very smooth in texture. It can take time for your child to adjust to new food textures. Your child might cough, gag, or spit up. As your baby’s oral skills develop, thicker and lumpier foods can be introduced.
Some foods are potential choking hazards, so it is important to feed your child foods that are the right texture for his or her development. To help prevent choking, prepare foods that can be easily dissolved with saliva and do not require chewing. Feed small portions and encourage your baby to eat slowly. Always watch your child while he or she is eating.
Here are some tips for preparing foods:
- Mix cereals and mashed cooked grains with breast milk, formula, or water to make it smooth and easy for your baby to swallow.
- Mash or puree vegetables, fruits and other foods until they are smooth.
- Hard fruits and vegetables, like apples and carrots, usually need to be cooked so they can be easily mashed or pureed.
- Cook food until it is soft enough to easily mash with a fork.
- Remove all fat, skin, and bones from poultry, meat, and fish, before cooking.
- Remove seeds and hard pits from fruit, and then cut the fruit into small pieces.
- Cut soft food into small pieces or thin slices.
- Cut cylindrical foods like hot dogs, sausage and string cheese into short thin strips instead of round pieces that could get stuck in the airway.
- Cut small spherical foods like grapes, cherries, berries and tomatoes into small pieces.
- Cook and finely grind or mash whole-grain kernels of wheat, barley, rice, and other grains.
Learn more about potential choking hazards and how to prevent your child from choking.
Top of Page
Age-by-age guide to feeding babies, toddlers and kids
Two Canadian dietitians (and moms!) reveal their top tips, tricks, advice and parent hacks for feeding children, from six-month-old babies to six-year-old big kids.
Feeding kids doesn’t sound like it should be complicated: You make meals; they eat them. But the reality can be just a bit different. There’s a lot for new parents to learn—not just what to feed the littles, but how to feed them (and how not to). In this excerpt from the new Canadian parenting guide Food to Grow On, registered dietitians and moms Sarah Remmer and Cara Rosenbloom walk you through tips and tricks for feeding children, from babies to bigger kids.
The No. 1 most important thing to know about feeding your kids applies to children of all ages, even babies.
Many parents have trouble believing that a child can choose how much or if they want to eat—we’re part of a culture that tells kids to “clear your plate” or take “just one more bite.” But our kids are born intuitive eaters—they know how much they need and when to stop—so we must trust this. By offering five to six eating opportunities a day (meals and snacks), with lots of variety, we can rest assured that our little ones will meet their nutrition needs over the period of a week, rather than focusing on any one specific meal. This makes for a much more pleasant eating experience and nurtures your child’s natural ability to eat intuitively.
This philosophy is known among dietitians as Satter’s division of responsibility. We’ve seen it work time and time again—in fact, thousands of times!—in nutrition counselling practices and with our own kids. Please try it. And trust it. And be patient. It may take weeks or months for an older child to grow accustomed to it, but we promise that it does work!
Put simply, in Satter’s division of responsibility, parents are responsible for some things, while kids—no matter how old they are—are responsible for others.
• What is served to eat
• When it is served
• Where it is served
Babies and children decide:
• If they want to eat
• How much to eat
Photo: Carmen Cheung10 tips for starting solids with your new eater!
1. Introduce solids. Baby is ready to eat solid foods by six months.
2. Choose the first food. Baby cereal, fruits, vegetables, meat, beans—anything goes for the first taste of food.
3. Choose iron-rich foods. Baby needs iron-rich foods at least twice a day.
4. Limit rice cereal. Try iron-enriched infant whole grain, barley or oatmeal cereal instead.
5. Be aware that some foods are choking hazards. Take an infant CPR course.
6. Feed with the combo method. Try both spoon-feeding and letting baby self-feed soft finger foods, even at the same meal.
7. Know that gagging is normal. It’s a natural reflex that prevents choking. Stay calm, and baby will be calm, too.
8. Don’t delay allergenic foods. Peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy and other possible allergens should be introduced at six months.
9. Know your role. Let baby be responsible for how much they eat. Don’t force-feed!
10. Introduce a cup. At six months, try a bit of water in a regular cup. It will be messy at first, but baby will learn quickly.
Traditionally, iron-fortified single-grain cereal thinned out with breastmilk or formula was the gold-standard first food for baby. Although it’s still an option, it is no longer the only choice. The most important thing to remember is to make iron-rich foods the priority when starting solids. Baby’s iron stores are becoming depleted at six months and they require this nutrient from food for proper growth and development.
AGE 6 TO 7 MONTHS
Cooked meat and poultry: Puréed, minced and shaped into meatballs or patties, or slow-cooked then shredded.
Low-mercury fish: Deboned and cooked until soft, then puréed or shaped into patties.
Eggs: Hard-boiled then mashed; cooked as an omelette and cut into strips; or scrambled.
Beans, lentils or chickpeas: Cooked and then mashed or puréed.
Cheese: Grated or thinly sliced.
Yogurt: Plain or Greek
Fruits and vegetables:
Soft fruits (like avocado, ripe pear or banana): Peeled and cut into large pieces. For bananas, leave half the peel on to help baby’s grip.
Harder fruits and veggies (like green beans, carrots, zucchini or apples): Peeled and steamed until soft, then either mashed or puréed and spoon-fed, or cut in large pieces and served as finger food.
Quinoa or oats: Cooked and spoon-fed, or baked into meatballs or patties.
Whole-grain bread: Toasted and cut into strips, then thinly spread with nut or seed butter.
Infant cereals: Iron-fortified.
AGE 8 TO 9 MONTHS
Continue to serve any of the foods from six to seven months, and progress to these textures when your baby seems ready.
Add medium-size, soft-cooked pieces of meat, poultry and fish. Try beans and lentils made into patties.
Fruits and vegetables:
Add grated raw options, like peeled apple or carrot, and medium-size pieces of soft or steamed-soft options, like raspberries, kiwi or peach.
Try large-flake or steel-cut oats, mixed with peanut butter and mashed banana. Offer bitesized pieces of cooked pasta, such as penne or macaroni.
AGE 10 TO 12 MONTHS
Continue to serve the foods above, and progress to these textures when your baby seems ready. Now that baby has better dexterity, the pieces can be smaller.
Try smaller pieces of meat, poultry and fish. Add cooked whole beans or chickpeas and cheese cubes.
Fruits and vegetables:
Add smaller pieces of cooked vegetables, like steamed sliced carrots or steamed cauliflower or broccoli, and small slices of tender, peeled options, such as raw cucumber. Try sliced grapes and small whole blueberries, and small pieces of dried fruit, such as apricots or raisins.
Include grains like pasta or barley in mixed meals (without added salt), such as ravioli with tomato sauce, spaghetti bolognese or soup.
Photo: Carmen Cheung
10 tips for feeding your one-year-old
1. Introduce milk (here’s how). Your toddler can drink cow’s milk at 12 months. If you are still breastfeeding, that’s great, too!
2. Use cups. By 12 months, begin to transition from bottles to cups if you haven’t already. Cups with straws are better than sippy cups.
3. Teach self-feeding. Teach your toddler how to use spoons and forks (and fingers!) to self-feed.
4. Keep it fun. Reduce mealtime stress by keeping it calm. Don’t hover, force-feed or pressure your toddler to eat.
5. Set a schedule. Your toddler should be enjoying three meals and two to three snacks each day to fill their small tummy.
6. Give vitamin D. Continue with vitamin D supplements (400 IU per day).
7. Know that food throwing is normal. It’s a phase that will pass if you stay calm. Provide easy instructions, like “Food stays on the tray.”
8. Don’t label picky eaters. That moniker only reinforces the problem. Kids are learning about food. Being picky is a normal phase.
9. Avoid treats. There’s no room in a 12- to 24-month-old’s diet for candy, soft drinks and cake—not yet anyway. They require nutrient-rich foods to fill that precious and small tummy space.
10. Be a role model. Your toddler is watching and learning from you. Mirror healthy behaviours (yup, that means you have to eat vegetables!).
Limit-testing toddlers: Say hello to self-feeding and picky eating
Having a toddler is fun, fascinating and frustrating all at the same time, especially when it comes to eating! As your child transitions from babyhood to toddlerhood, you’ll notice developmental and social changes, which can impact their eating habits, too. With better balance and coordination, and the desire to master fine motor skills, self-feeding becomes easier.
Plus, their newly developed sense of self will help them actually want to control more of their own food intake. It’s a good thing! During toddlerhood, you’ll help your child to wean off bottles, learn to drink from a cup and successfully feed themselves with a spoon (if they are not doing those things already).
You’ll probably notice that your toddler’s eating habits become a bit more unpredictable, too. At this stage, kids’ appetites and food intake may start to slow down along with their growth, which is totally normal. But it typically means they become more selective about their food choices as they yearn for independence and control—enter: picky eating! Your toddler may love a food one day but refuse it the next, toss an entire bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal on the floor or throw a tantrum at the sight of a previously loved food. It’s all part of the process of learning to eat, and it does pass.
It’s important to offer your toddler nutritious meals and snacks at regular and predictable intervals (about every two to three hours). Try to stay relatively consistent with your schedule so that your child learns that eating isn’t a free-for-all, but something that happens at roughly the same times every day. This will help them develop a healthy meal pattern so they don’t graze all day or say “hungry!” and ask for food. Consistency is key.
At this stage, establishing mealtime boundaries around what, when and where they eat is important so that your toddler can learn how to manage their hunger and fullness (self-regulate) and eat intuitively. The more regular and predictable your meal and snack timing can be (with a bit of flexibility, of course—let’s be real), the easier it is for young toddlers to learn how to manage their appetite and food intake.
How much is enough (or too much)? Toddlers need about 1,300 calories per day. But we certainly do not want you counting your toddler’s calories! As long as you’re following Satter’s division of responsibility, your toddler should get what they need.
Photo: Carmen Cheung
10 tips for feeding two- to three-year-olds
1. Have a routine. Offer meals and snacks at the same time each day to establish a pattern and avoid all-day grazing.
2. Eat as a family. Be a role model for healthy eating while enjoying family time.
3. Make vegetables yummy. Offer dips, try different textures or serve as a soup.
4. Don’t sneak in the veggies. Cook with your kids to show them the ingredients.
5. Wiggly kid? Bring back the high chair! Kids can’t sit for more than 10 to 20 minutes at a meal, and they need a properly positioned chair.
6. Offer vegetables often. Kids will learn to eat vegetables with repeated exposure. You can be the role model.
7. Follow their appetite. Remember Satter’s division of responsibility: You serve healthy foods and let kids decide how much to eat.
8. Accept that messy eating is normal. It’s fine for kids to explore food, but it’s also fine to set boundaries so it doesn’t get out of hand.
9. Don’t use treats as rewards. A treat once in a while is fine, but not as a bribe or prize for good behaviour.
10. Shop and cook together. Get your kids involved in mealtimes.
After the age of two, growth starts to slow and stabilize a bit, and toddlers come out of their critical nutrition period, which means their food intake and appetite diminish. Combine this with their newly discovered independence and desire for control, and it easily translates into—you guessed it—mealtime battles.
We can relax, though, because most of the time, kids get the nutrition they need over the period of a week, even though it appears they eat next to nothing on certain days. As long as you’re serving a nice variety of nutritious foods throughout the week, it will all balance out.
Here’s a little nugget of information that might ease your mind, too: It would be unusual if your child wasn’t a “picky eater” to some extent at this stage. You’re not alone in this struggle! Kids in this age group often turn their noses up to foods like meat, vegetables and even (surprisingly) fruit, after they’ve readily accepted them as babies and young toddlers. It’s normal—don’t worry.
The key is to be patient, calm and positive. The way you react to typical toddler feeding challenges can either create bigger, more serious eating issues down the road or it can help your child grow their relationship with food in a healthy way. This is the stage when unhealthy feeding and eating patterns can develop and worsen, especially if there’s a lot of pressure, coercion or negative energy at the table.
It’s imperative that the mealtime dynamic remains positive. You don’t want the focus to be on “getting my kid to eat”! You want to focus on spending quality family time together, modelling healthy eating habits and making mealtimes positive.
It’s perfectly fine for kids to enjoy sweet treats. Here’s how to avoid them getting obsessed.
Offer randomly Offer sweet foods when it makes sense to you and for your family, but do this randomly. Don’t make a big deal out of it. You don’t want your child to associate treats with a particular day, time or meal, or they will start to crave them at that time.
Don’t restrict too much If kids feel treats are being withheld from them, it could trigger the “get it in while you can” mentality. You don’t want your toddler “saving up” for or expecting treats.
Avoid using as a reward We know how tempting it is to use this strategy to bribe or reward kids, but doing so only increases treats’ desirability and puts them on a pedestal.
Separate dinner and dessert Rewarding your toddler with dessert foods because they ate their vegetables at dinner is communicating that vegetables are to be avoided and desserts to be desired, and may cause them to rush through the meal to get to the treat more quickly.
Decide on the amount There’s no rule about how often or how much when it comes to offering treats. It’s important that nutrient-dense, whole foods fill precious tummy space first and foremost, and treats are the fun add-on.
Photo: Carmen Cheung
10 tips for feeding your schoolagers.
1. Serve whole, unprocessed foods most often. Cut back on ultra-processed foods.
2. Assemble a balanced lunchbox. Add vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein-rich foods.
3. Serve water as the main beverage. Juice and soft drinks are treats—like candy!
4. Teach the “balanced plate.” Fill half with vegetables and fruits, a quarter with grains and a quarter with protein.
5. Stay active. Kids should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
6. Cook with your child. Teach them some age-appropriate kitchen tasks and remain calm about the mess!
7. Do not put kids on weight-loss diets. Encourage a healthy lifestyle instead.
8. Foster good self-esteem. Inspire your child to list what they love about themselves.
9. Know that vegetarian and vegan diets are safe. Assure adequate protein, iron and vitamin B12.
10. Be flexible, not restrictive. Food is never the enemy.
The always-on junk food battle
Kids at this stage can eat mostly everything—but that doesn’t mean they will. There’s a broad spectrum, from kids who enjoy a small handful of foods to kids who will try anything once. What’s most important is that your child stays nourished by choosing foods that contain the nutrients their bodies require for normal growth and development.
Here’s the bad news: Kids at this age tend to eat a lot of ultra-processed foods—things like cookies, hot dogs, soft drinks, chicken nuggets, cake and chips. Why is this a problem? A high intake of ultra-processed foods is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart conditions.
So, what should kids be eating? The following foods are nutrient-rich, and because kids have high-nutrient needs but small stomachs, these foods should fill most meals:
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Legumes and pulses: chickpeas, black beans, lentils, tofu, peanuts
- Dairy: milk, kefir, yogurt, cheese
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, nut butters
- Seeds: hemp, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia, seed butters
- Whole grains: oats, quinoa, barley, rice, wholegrain wheat
- Healthy oils: olive, avocado, sesame
Excerpted from Food to Grow On on by Sarah Remmer and Cara Rosenbloom. Copyright © 2021 Sarah Remmer and Cara Rosenbloom. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
Stay in touchSubscribe to Today's Parent's daily newsletter for our best parenting news, tips, essays and recipes.
Yes, I would like to receive Today's Parent's newsletter. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.**
FILED UNDER: age by age cooking feeding health service viral Healthy diet healthy eating Nutrition Starting solids
Breastfeeding on demand
You can often hear from a nursing mother: "I feed on demand, my baby requires a breast every 3.5 hours." Or: “I have always fed on demand. In a year, we already had 1 feeding in the evening, and my child calmly refused to breastfeed. Before talking about the demand of the child, it is necessary to find out what modern women mean when they say - "I breastfeed."
Modern mothers consider breastfeeding necessary for feeding their baby. Just for feeding. Breast milk is food, the mother supplies the baby with the nutrients necessary for growth and development. When a baby suckles at the breast, he eats. Breastfeeding makes sense only as a process of supplying proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and microelements.
During suckling, the baby receives the nutrients it needs with mother's milk. This is the absolute truth. There is another unconditional truth, which is not given any importance in modern society, it is not taken into account and is not considered. Breastfeeding for a child is communication with the mother. We need to figure out how the child understands feeding on demand? Can he understand anything at all? Is there any difference for him how he is fed, for 15-20 minutes after 3. 5 hours or in some other way?
What is on-demand feeding
On-demand feeding of a newborn baby means putting it to the breast for every squeak or search. Squeak and search movements in newborns, even as early as the second or third day of life, begin to appear much more often than after 3.5 or 2.5 hours. The need for attachments increases rapidly, and by the 10-12th day of life, the need to attach to a child may occur 15-16 or more times a day. Applications vary in duration. The baby can fall asleep and sleep while sucking for, for example, 1.5-2 hours. Can release the breast after 1-2 minutes. And then ask her again. Why does a child need such frequent contact with his mother's breast?
That's why. Being in the mother's belly, in a calm, familiar environment, listening to the noises of the mother's body, being in a warm, cramped, confined space, the baby sucked his fist, fingers, loops of the umbilical cord, swallowed amniotic fluid. Learned to suck and swallow. After birth, experiencing discomfort for any, the most insignificant reason, the baby tries to get rid of it. You can get rid of discomfort by getting into the usual conditions of a comfortable stay. The only place where the baby after birth can feel the sensations familiar to him is in the arms of the mother. The only familiar action is sucking. The only familiar taste and smell is the taste and smell of milk and lube in the areola. Milk and lubricant have an odor and taste similar to the taste and smell of amniotic fluid. Therefore, experiencing discomfort, the baby squeaks, or begins to look for an object to suck with his mouth. Ideally, it is immediately applied to the chest. The baby becomes warm, cramped, he hears the beating of his mother's heart, breathing, grumbling in the intestines, he sucks and feels the familiar taste and smell. If such an action happens constantly, the baby gains confidence, no matter what happens, he will solve all his problems with his mother. The place of comfort is now under the breast, and you can suck on the breast.
This whole process is biologically justified. A newborn child does not feel the feeling of hunger, this feeling is not formed in him. It will begin to form at about two months of age. How to feed a creature that does not experience hunger ?! How to encourage him to take some action to get food? This can be done only at the expense of some other incentives. This stimulus for the newborn is constant bodily discomfort, thanks to which he wants to suckle all the time! The most intense, frequent and prolonged sucking in infants is observed in the first two or three months of life. It is in these first months that the main weight gain of the baby occurs.
Feeding in the first month
Baby falls asleep with breast in mouth, sleeps sucking for a while. Falling asleep deeply, lets go of the chest. After sleeping for a while, he wakes up, and is applied on waking. After sleep, he can stay awake for some time, for example, an hour and a half. During wakefulness, he may feel discomfort 2-3 times, for example, from a completely natural desire to pee, and having called his mother for help, having kissed for a couple of minutes, he will do his deeds. Then he will want to sleep, feel discomfort and, kissing his chest, will again fall asleep sucking. After some time, he will wake up and attach again. Then again a little "walk". And after some time, he will fall asleep at the chest again.
The daytime naps of a one-month-old infant feeding on demand vary in duration and number. There can be 4-6 dreams during the day, and they can last from 5-15 minutes to 2-2.5 sometimes 3 hours. "Around" each dream, the baby is applied to the chest, and applied between dreams several times. At night, the child falls asleep at the breast. Usually in the early morning hours, he begins to fuss and apply. In the morning, he almost never fully wakes up. The baby sleeps, from time to time, sucking on his mother's breast. Waking up in the morning, the baby is again applied to the chest. If you count all the attachments that have happened in a baby of one month of age, then approximately 16-20 attachments are obtained. This is how a newborn human cub behaves if it is given the opportunity to behave in accordance with physiological and psychological needs, which, by the way, are genetically determined. The child of the first months of life does not separate his personality from the personality of the mother and from her breast. Mom and her breasts, and everything connected with them, are the universe of the baby and himself.
In most cases, a modern woman, being afraid to “accustom a child to hands”, strives to limit his requests for sucking. A pacifier and a bottle of tea or water come to her aid in this matter. They, too, can be sucked ... The need for sucking seems to be satisfied. But only the need for communication with the mother during suckling is not satisfied, the peculiar chain of mutual assistance and cooperation between mother and baby is destroyed, the formation of maternal affection and concentration is disrupted. Is the difference in the two actions noticeable to the reader: the baby cried, the mother took him, put him to her chest and started rocking him, or gave him a pacifier and started rocking the stroller, even with the words “Why are you crying, my sun?”
The modern woman who gives a pacifier and pumps a stroller is not a bad person deliberately harming an infant. She is simply in captivity of prejudices regarding the relationship between mother and baby. She does not know how to behave correctly, does not know what to do in accordance with the natural needs of the child. If you tell her what the child really needs, she will exclaim in horror: “What is it, don’t let him get away with?!” Indeed, the child of the first months of life must not be let off the hook. For a woman who does not know how to comfortably carry a baby, and who does not know how to feed him in various positions (sitting, lying, standing and even moving), this can be very difficult. Especially if she is not sure of the correctness of her actions.
An action that should become automatic for the mother of a newborn: when the baby cries or shows other signs of anxiety, put the baby to the breast.
The baby is growing. A fairly stable rhythm of daytime sleep begins to form in him, and a 3-4-month-old baby behaves quite differently from a newborn. Feeding on demand at this age looks something like this...
- At three months, the baby has 10-12 feeds during the day and 2-4 at night. There are frequent applications for a short time, but their number is reduced. There may be a long night break in feedings, about 5 hours, but this is very rare. Much more often the night break is 2.5-3.5 hours. By this age, the baby's body is noticeably rounded.
- At four months, the baby begins to breastfeed noticeably less frequently. The main feedings are associated with sleep: the baby suckles before bedtime, during awakening and during sleep, both daytime and nighttime. In this regard, he has a fairly accurate feeding regimen. And many babies stop breastfeeding when they wake up after daytime sleep, sometimes as early as 2.5-3 months.
- At five months, the baby has 8-10 daytime feedings and 2-3 nighttime, attachments as well as in the fourth month of life, are organized around dreams - the baby eats when going to bed and some babies suck during awakening.
- At six months, the feeding regimen changes. The most active sucking shifts to the last 2-3 hours before waking up from a night's sleep. The period of daytime wakefulness can be divided into two periods: in the morning, when the baby sucked during the night is rarely applied to the breast, and in the evening, when attachments become very frequent. In total, there can be 7-10 day applications and 3-4 night applications. At this age, the baby begins a period of acquaintance with new food - pedagogical complementary foods. Sometimes there are attachments associated with the introduction of complementary foods, the baby “washes down” samples of new food with mother's milk. But many children do not want to drink complementary foods. When complementary foods are introduced to an on-demand baby, it is never meant to replace feedings with complementary foods. This is practically impossible, because the main feedings of the baby are associated with sleep, and mother's breakfasts, lunches and dinners, during which the baby gets acquainted with new food, are located between the baby's dreams, during his wakefulness.
- At seven months, the frequency of application is about the same.
- At eight months, the feeding regimen changes. Since the baby shows high motor activity and is very busy exploring the surrounding space, in the daytime he forgets to breastfeed. In this regard, the number of daily feedings can be reduced to 6-8 times. The baby compensates for the reduction in daytime feedings by increasing the frequency and duration of nighttime feedings up to 6 times.
- In the second half of the year, babies who stopped breastfeeding when waking up after daytime naps recall this habit again. The baby’s daytime sleep in the second half of life, as well as in the region of a year and older, looks something like this: the baby falls asleep sucking, sleeps quietly for a while, for example 1-1.5 hours, then starts tossing and turning, fiddling, worrying, at this moment the mother lies down next to , gives him a breast and the baby can fill up 10-15-30 minutes sucking. Mom may well use this time for her own rest - lie down, read, while the baby sleeps while sucking. I know my mother, a lover of embroidery, who used this time specifically for embroidery ...
- Breastfeeding becomes more frequent at nine to ten months. In the daytime, this is 4-6 full feedings and about the same number of attachments for various reasons. The baby has new reasons for attachment. If, during active actions to master the world, the baby fills a bump or gets scared, he calms down with his mother's breast. There may be situations when you can comfort the baby by sitting next to him and hugging him. At night, 4-6 feedings remain, the baby begins to suckle more actively in the morning between 3 and 8 hours.
- At eleven months, a baby can already have 2-3 complete complementary foods. Initiation to adult food in the mind of a child is not associated with breastfeeding: attachment to the mother's breast is something other than the desire to get enough of the product they like. As a rule, after the baby has eaten, he feels the need to attach himself to the breast. The number of daily feedings remains the same in the child, but the number of short-term attachments increases. There are active mid-morning feedings between 4 and 8 o'clock in the morning.
- At ten or twelve months, the baby, if he is already walking, can sometimes breastfeed every time he comes to his mother, i.e. about every 15-30 minutes. Attachments around dreams and night sucking persist. Therefore, if a mother says that a child suckles once or twice a day, this means that there is no feeding at the request of the child. There are restrictions imposed by the mother, with which the baby has come to terms. He treats breast sucking like food, sucks on a pacifier or a finger to fall asleep or soothe, or falls asleep just like that, without calming down.
- At twelve months, the baby is applied in about the same way.
- At the age of one and a half years, there may already be one daytime nap, so there are fewer attachments associated with sleep. Preserved for morning sucking. The baby is very free with his mother's breasts. Sometimes it happens that he comes up to suck just for fun. For example, like this: he comes up, climbs on his knees, looks into his mother’s face, smiles, starts to swarm in his shirt, gets breasts, smiles at his breasts, sucks for 30 seconds and leaves.
As for the number of feedings per day when feeding a child on demand, their number is almost never less than 12. A newborn has 12 or more attachments, mostly they are all associated with dreams. And a child, say 1.5-2 years old, can also have about 12 attachments, only 3-4 are associated with sleep, and the rest are short-term attachments for various reasons. I suggest to all mothers reading this text - do not count the application, do not notice their duration. Breastfeed your baby as often as he asks, when you feel the need to.
Moms who don't think about breastfeeding without looking at the clock may get the impression that when breastfeeding on demand, the mother can do nothing but feed the baby. This is not true. After the birth of a baby, a mother begins another life, she is called life with a baby. That's all. The child is with the mother, not the mother with the child! Feel the difference! You need to be able to organize your life in a different way, in the first months, of course, the help of loved ones is very necessary. In the tradition of many peoples, it was customary for the first 40 days after childbirth to remove a woman from any housework and household chores, she was engaged only in a child. In some nations, objects that the mother of a newborn touched were considered “unclean”, therefore, they preferred to protect the mother from the rest of the household, allocating her a separate “corner” of the house, where no one bothered her and she did not interfere with anyone. Among the Slavs, such a restrictive custom was called a six-week. By 1.5-2 months, the rhythm of daytime dreams begins to form, and the baby has a kind of “regime”, the mother becomes more free.
For a mother who can't imagine breastfeeding without looking back at the clock, and who is sure that the “right” baby is the baby lying quietly in her crib all the time, feeding on demand will be a complete hassle. It will be much easier for such a mother if she stops looking at the clock and ties the baby to herself with a large scarf or uses a patchwork holder (sling). It will become easier for her if she stops running between the nursery and the kitchen, but takes the baby with her to the kitchen and carries him around the house with her, doing housework, in a box, a cradle, a special chair, if she tries not to put him off often, and pick up as soon as possible, postponing the baby only in case of emergency and not for long.
Breastfeeding is not the same as house arrest. In the conditions of modern society, it is possible to organize the exit of a nursing mother to work from about 6 months of age of the baby. If necessary, you can start working from the age of 4 months, but, of course, it is better not every day of the week and not full time. It is the responsibility of a breastfeeding consultant to help a mother organize her return to work.
Sometimes, when I advise mothers on breastfeeding, I suggest that they forget for a second that they are already living in the 21st century. I propose to return, for example, to the cave and ask what they will do if the child woke up at night, how to calm him down? If you are walking through the forest and trying not to attract the attention of predators, how to make the baby silent? If the child is thirsty, what will you give him? What is the baby used to, for thousands of years of its existence? To the fact that he sleeps on his mother while she wanders through the forest with a digging stick in search of roots, and wakes up when mother stops. Since mom stopped, then there is time to wake up and suck. Therefore, even now the child sleeps well, tied to the mother with a patchwork holder, wakes up when the mother, having done a few household chores, sits in a chair to take care of the baby.
Some mother, reading about the cave, will be offended, saying that she is a civilized creature. But please think. Man, mother's breast and mother's milk have been created by evolution over millions of years. They are made for each other. Baby food has created progress and more recently. The skills of motherhood and breastfeeding have also been lost by our society quite recently. A person is not physiologically adapted to artificial feeding and a pacifier. The mother's breast will not produce enough milk at 6-7 feedings per day. Nature did not know, when creating man as a mammal, that the time would come when the need for breastfeeding would be satisfied by some kind of pacifiers and nipples.
Changes that occur during the formation of the personality of a child who did not have full contact with the mother during prolonged breastfeeding are noted by modern research by psychologists and sociologists. These are changes with a minus sign. It would be better if they were not, these changes.
Breastfeeding is not only important for the baby, it is also important for the mother. During on-demand feeding, the woman's feelings change, a stronger attachment to the baby is formed, the woman becomes more sensitive to the needs of the baby. Deeper affection and understanding are not only preserved in infancy. They persist for life. For clarity, imagine what happens to a woman’s feelings if she tries to “withstand” a child, endures his crying, anxiety. What happens to a woman if she uses the recommendation from one very popular parenting book: "Go to the child if he cries for more than 15 minutes"? Speaking in abstract terms, humanity is interested in reviving the practice of breastfeeding. The revival of this practice is impossible without mothers realizing the true reasons for the child's need for attachment to the breast.
Lilia Kazakova, pediatrician,
Head of Breastfeeding and Child Care Counselors
Breastfeeding the newborn | What to Expect in the First Week
The first week of a baby's life is a wonderful but hectic time, especially if you haven't breastfed before. Our breastfeeding tips will help you settle in as quickly as possible
Share this information
The first time after childbirth, mothers are often confused. The body is still recovering, and you are already starting to get to know your newborn baby. The emotional state during this period can be unstable, especially between the second and fifth day, when many women have milk 1 and at the same time postpartum depression begins 2 . In addition, people around often expect (and demand) that a woman come to her senses as soon as possible and become a “super mom”. But the best thing to do this first week is just to be with your baby and get breastfeeding going.
When should I start breastfeeding my newborn?
Try to breastfeed your baby within the first hour after birth. When the baby latch onto the breast and begins sucking rhythmically, it stimulates the mammary gland cells and starts milk production. 1 No wonder this time is called the "magic hour"!
“Ideally, the baby should be placed on the mother's stomach immediately after birth, so that it can immediately attach to the breast. He won't necessarily eat, but he should be able to,” explains Cathy Garbin, an internationally recognized expert on breastfeeding.
“Hold your baby and let him find the breast on his own and put the nipple in his mouth. This is called the breast-seeking reflex. On the Internet you can watch videos that show what this process looks like. If the baby does not latch onto the nipple on its own, the midwife will help to properly attach it to the breast. But for starters, it’s good to give the baby the opportunity to do it on their own. In this case, the optimal position for the mother is reclining. ”
Don't spend that special first hour of your baby's life weighing and swaddling—or at least wait until he's suckling for the first time. Enjoy hugs and close skin-to-skin contact. This promotes the production of oxytocin, the hormone of love, in you and your baby, and oxytocin plays a key role in the supply of the first breast milk - colostrum. 3
“As soon as the obstetricians were convinced that our son was healthy, the three of us — me, my husband and our baby — were left to give us the opportunity to get to know each other. It was a very special hour - an hour of awkwardness, turbulent emotions and bliss. During this time, I breastfed my son twice, ”recalls Ellie, a mother of two from the UK.
Did you know that breastfeeding helps to recover after childbirth? This is because oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions. In the first hours after childbirth, this contributes to the natural release of the placenta and reduces blood loss. 4
What to do if the birth did not go according to plan?
If you had a caesarean section or other complications during childbirth,
You can still establish skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeed him in the first hours after birth.
“If you can't hold your baby, have your partner do it for you and ensure skin-to-skin contact with the baby. This will give the baby a sense of security, care and warmth so that he can hold on until you recover, ”Katie advises.
If the baby is unable to breastfeed, it is advisable to start expressing milk as early as possible and do so as often as possible until the baby is able to feed on its own. “While breastfeeding in the first hours after birth lays an excellent foundation for the future, it is not so important,” Cathy reassures. “It is much more important to start lactation so that in the future, if necessary, you can start breastfeeding.”
To start milk production, you can express milk manually or use a breast pump, which can be given to you at the hospital. 5 And the precious colostrum can be fed to the baby. This is especially important if the baby was born premature or weak, since breast milk is extremely healthy.
If a baby is born prematurely or has a medical condition and cannot be breastfed immediately, this is no reason not to continue breastfeeding. “I have worked with many new mothers who were unable to breastfeed their baby for the first six weeks due to preterm labor or other reasons. Nevertheless, all of them later successfully switched to breastfeeding,” says Kathy.
Does the baby latch on correctly?
Correct breastfeeding is essential for successful breastfeeding 6 , because it determines how effectively the baby will suckle milk, and therefore grow and develop. Latching on the breast incorrectly can cause sore or damaged nipples, so don't hesitate to ask your doctor to check that your baby is properly attached to the breast, even if you are told that everything is fine and you do not see obvious problems - especially while you are in the hospital.
“While I was in the hospital, I called the doctor at every feed and asked me to check if I was breastfeeding correctly,” says Emma, mother of two from Australia. - There were several cases when it seemed to me that everything seemed to be right, but it was painful to feed, and the doctor helped me take the baby off the breast and attach it correctly. By the time I was discharged, I had already learned to do it confidently.”
When applying to the breast, point the nipple towards the palate. This will allow the baby to take the nipple and part of the areola under it into their mouth. It will be easier for him to suck if he has both the nipple and part of the areola around in his mouth. 6
“When a baby latch on properly, it doesn't cause discomfort and it causes a pulling sensation, not pain,” Cathy explains. - The baby's mouth is wide open, the lower lip may be slightly turned outward, and the upper one lies comfortably on the chest. The body language of the child indicates that he is comfortable. There isn't much milk at this early stage, so you probably won't notice your baby swallowing, but he will suckle a lot and nurse frequently."
How often should a newborn be fed?
The frequency and duration of breastfeeding in the first week can vary greatly. “The first 24 hours of life are completely different for different children. Someone sleeps a lot (after all, childbirth is tiring!), And someone often eats, says Katie. - Such a variety greatly confuses young mothers. Everyone gives different advice, so it's important to remember that every mother and child is different."
“Colostrum is thicker than mature breast milk and produced in smaller quantities, but it provides many benefits. When the baby eats colostrum, he learns to suck, swallow and breathe until milk begins to flow in more volume, ”explains Cathy.
Milk usually arrives on the second or fourth day after birth. Until this time, the baby is applied to the breast 8-12 times a day (and sometimes more often!), including at night. 7 Feeding may last 10-15 minutes at this stage, or 45 minutes or even an hour, as the baby is just beginning to develop the muscles and coordination needed to suckle effectively.
“At first, the intensity of feeding is very high, often higher than many people realize, and this is shocking to most new mothers,” says Cathy. - Sometimes mom has no time to go to the toilet, take a shower and have a snack. It usually comes as a surprise."
Camille, a mother from Australia, experienced this. “The first week, Frankie ate every two hours, day and night, and each time it took half an hour to an hour to feed,” she recalls. “My husband and I were completely exhausted!”
Do I need to feed my newborn on a schedule?
The good news is that frequent feeding promotes lactation and stimulates milk production. 7 The more your baby eats, the more milk you will have. Therefore, forget about feeding your newborn on a schedule - this way he will have less chance of feeding. Try to feed your baby when he signals that he is hungry 8 :
- tossing and turning in his sleep;
- opens eyes;
- turns his head if he feels a touch on his cheek;
- sticks out tongue;
- licks lips;
- sucks fingers;
- is naughty;
- is crying.
Crying is the last sign of hunger, so if in doubt, just offer your baby the breast. If he bursts into tears, it will be more difficult to feed him, especially at first, when both of you are just learning how to do it. As your baby grows, he will likely eat less frequently and take less time to feed, so breastfeeding will seem more predictable.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
You may have heard that breastfeeding is not painful at all, but in fact, in the first days, many new mothers experience discomfort. And this is not at all surprising, given that the nipples are not used to such frequent and strong sucking.
“Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for the first couple of days – your body and your baby are just getting used to it. If a baby eats for too long and does not latch well, the sensations are almost the same as from unworn new shoes, Cathy compares. Just as tight shoes can rub your feet, improper suckling can damage your nipples. Prevention is always better than cure, so if the pain persists after a few days of feeding, contact a lactation consultant or healthcare professional.”
Maria, a mother from Canada, agrees: “Although my son seemed to latch onto the breast well, he damaged his nipples while feeding, and I was in pain. As it turned out, the reason was a shortened frenulum of the tongue. The breastfeeding specialists at our city clinic have been of great help in diagnosis and treatment.”
In addition, you may experience period cramps during the first few days after breastfeeding, especially if this is not your first baby. This is the so-called postpartum pain. The fact is that oxytocin, which is released during breastfeeding, contributes to further contraction of the uterus to restore its normal size. 4
When milk arrives, the breasts usually become fuller, firmer and larger than before delivery. In some women, the breasts swell, harden and become very sensitive - swelling of the mammary glands occurs. 10 Frequent breastfeeding relieves these symptoms. For more breast care tips, read our article What is Breast Swelling?
How often does the newborn urinate and defecate?
What goes into the body must go back out. Colostrum
has a laxative effect, helping to eliminate meconium - the original feces. It looks a little scary - black and sticky, like tar. 11 But don't worry, it won't always be like this. Breastfed babies usually have a slightly sweet smell of stool.
How many times a day you will need to change diapers and what the contents should look like, see below.
- Frequency: once or more.
- Colour: greenish black.
- Texture: sticky like tar.
- Frequency: twice or more.
- Colour: dark greenish brown.
- Texture: less sticky.
- Frequency: twice or more.
- Colour: greenish brown to brownish yellow.
- Texture: non-sticky.
Fourth day and then the entire first month
- Frequency: twice or more.
- Color: yellow (feces should turn yellow no later than the end of the fourth day).
- Texture: grainy (like mustard with grains interspersed). Leaky and watery.
The baby's urine should be light yellow. On average, babies urinate once a day for the first two days. Starting around the third day, the number of wet diapers increases to three, and from the fifth day onwards, diapers have to be changed five times a day or more often. In addition, during the first few days, the weight of wet diapers increases. 11
Is the baby getting enough breast milk?
Since very little milk is produced at first,
You may feel that your baby is not getting enough milk. But if you feed your baby on demand, you will produce exactly as much milk as he needs. If you want to keep the process under control, be guided by the frequency of diaper changes given above. If your baby soils less diapers, check with your doctor.
“For the first three or four weeks, most babies just eat and sleep. If the child is worried and constantly asks for a breast, you should consult with your doctor, ”recommends Katie.
Sometimes the baby may vomit after feeding. If the vomit is the color of milk, this is not a cause for concern. But if there are orange, red, green, brown or black blotches in it, or the child vomits with a "fountain", consult a doctor. You should also consult a doctor if the baby has a high temperature, the fontanel (soft spot on the head) has sunk, blood is found in the stool, and also if the weight recorded at birth has not recovered within two weeks. 11
But if there are no frightening symptoms and the baby is growing at a normal pace, then he has enough milk. Soon you will both get used to breastfeeding and establish a more stable routine.
For the next step in breastfeeding, see Breastfeeding in the First Month: What to Expect.
1 Pang WW, Hartmann PE. Initiation of human lactation: secretory differentiation and secretory activation. J9 Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia . 2007;12(4):211-221. - Pang, W.W., Hartmann, P.I., "Lactation initiation in the lactating mother: secretory differentiation and secretory activation." G Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007;12(4):211-221.
2 Shashi R et al. Postpartum psychiatric disorders: Early diagnosis and management. Indian J Psychiatry . 2015; 57( Suppl 2): S 216– S 221. - Shashi R. et al., Postnatal mental disorders: early diagnosis and treatment. Indian J Saikiatri. 2015; 57(App 2): S216-S221.
3 Moberg KU, Prime DK. Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding. Infant . 2013;9(6):201-206. - Moberg K, Prime DK, "The effects of oxytocin on mother and child during breastfeeding." Infant. 2013;9(6):201-206.
4 Sobhy SI, Mohame NA. The effect of early initiation of breast feeding on the amount of vaginal blood loss during the fourth stage of labor. J Egypt Public Health Assoc . 2004;79(1-2):1-12. - Sobhi SI, Moham NA, "Early initiation of breastfeeding and its effect on vaginal bleeding in the fourth stage of labor." G Egyptian Public Health Assoc. 2004;79(1-2):1-2.
5 Meier PP et al. Which breast pump for which mother: an evidence-based approach to individualizing breast pump technology. J Perinatol . 2016;36(7):493. - Meyer P.P. et al., Breastpump Selection: A Scientific Approach to Customizing Pumping Technology. J Perinatol (Journal of Perinatology). 2016;36(7):493-499.
6 Cadwell K. Latching - On and Suckling of the Healthy Term Neonate: Breastfeeding Assessment. J Midwifery & Women s 2007;52(6):638-642. — Cadwell, K., "Latching and sucking in healthy newborns: evaluation of breastfeeding." F Midwifery Women Health. 2007;52(6):638-642.
7 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". J Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121.
8 Australian Breastfeeding Association [ Internet ].