AGE RELATED GUIDELINES – NUMBER OF FEEDS, AMOUNT AND CONSISTENCY
Babies nutritional requirements varies a lot depending on their growth pattern. Therefore, in general, mother should prepare and offer a mixed nourishing diet based on the usual family foods and leave it to the baby to take as much as is desired. Remember not to force feed because your baby has a limited stomach capacity. A fussy baby may need attention, not always food. Your baby’s general activity and growth as judged by the family/doctor and confirmed by weighing is good evidence of adequate food intake.
However, the following guidelines are offered:
Birth to 4 months
- Breast milk offers the complete nutrition for a baby in the first 6 months of life.
- Exclusive breast feeding should be done on demand basis, approximately 8-10 times a day for minimum 4 months and preferably 6 months of age.
- Do not offer water, milk, juice or even vitamins.
- If you are a working mother, it would be a good idea to give your baby expressed breast milk while you are away. If the child is less than 4 months, milk should be offered. Ideally, give expressed breast milk and if that is not possible, give preferably fresh milk over formula milk. Expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 8 hours and up to 24 hours if refrigerated. Take care not to introduce bottle feeds at this time just to let your baby get used to them. This would mean end of successful breast feeding.
- Formula fed babies may need to feed about six to eight times per day, starting with 2 to 5 oz (1 oz = 30 gms) formula per feeding . As with breastfeeding, the number of feedings will decrease as the baby gets older, but the amount of formula will increase to approximately 6 to 8 oz per feeding.
- Routine check-ups with your physician to monitor your child’s growth will ensure that they are adequately nourished.
4 – 6 months
- If you have breast-fed your baby for 4 months or longer, it is a good idea to start with semisolid/solid feeds instead of milk.
- Breast Feeding is continued (4-5 times) and solids are offered twice daily at around 10 am and 6 pm.1 to 2 tsp are enough to start with and the quantity and frequency should be increased gradually. Remember, the stomach capacity (4 – 6 months) is only 86 -130 ml (17 – 26 tsp).
- If you are a working mother and your baby is over 4 months, you could start with solids and/or milk. Babies cannot eat much at this age. So if the mother plans to be away from home for prolonged periods, it is a good idea to get the baby used to milk first. Later one can start with solids. Once the baby takes milk confidently, you can start with solids. You can give 1 to 2 semisolid feeds.
- Formula fed babie can be given soild foods.
- Starting solids too soon may cause choking in infants (if they are not physically ready). A cereal based semisolid food is usually the first to be introduced.
6 – 9 months
- Continue Breast Feeding (3-4 times) and give semisolids after breast feeding.
- Give freshly prepared home foods to the baby. Mash or blend the food items but do not over dilute.
- Offer 3 solid feeds around 9-10 am, 1 pm & 7 pm. However, try to have flexible feeding schedules. These are based on signs of hunger in your baby rather than on fixed hours of feeding. After the first few weeks, a healthy baby will develop a self-regulated feeding schedule.
- Remember, the stomach capacity (6 – 9 months) is only 130 –190 ml (26 –38 tsp).
- 1 to 2 tsp are enough to start with and gradually increase the quantity and frequency of feeds. Over 3 to 4 weeks, your baby should be consuming 50 to 60 grams of food i.e. half a cup or one banana per day.
- Add a little vegetable oil for increasing the calorie density and green leafy vegetables for iron and vitamins.
- Some dietitians recommend introduction of a few vegetables before fruits as the fruit’s sweetness may make a less-sweet food such as vegetable less appealing.
- After a baby has tried different baby cereals, give fruits and vegetables in 2 to 3 tablespoon servings. Introduce Fresh milk gradually in a cup. With this plan you can avoid the bottle as well as formula.
9 – 12 months
- Solids are now offered at least 4 times a day around 9am, 1 pm, 4 pm & 8 pm. However, try to have flexible feeding schedules. These are based on signs of hunger in your baby rather than on fixed hours of feeding.
- The stomach capacity (9 – 12 months) is 190 –260 ml (38 –52 tsp.)
- Increase the amount of fresh milk to 2-3 times per day but continue breast-feeding at least 3 times a day.
- About 9 months, your baby can start chewing on soft food. Give almost everything cooked at home (softened and without spices/extra salt). The food at this time does not need to be mashed but if required, chopped or pounded.
- A variety of household food items should be given and the quantity gradually increased.
- Vegetables and seasonal fruits can be added; fish and minced meat in non-vegetarians.
- Maintain breast feeding.