Feeding baby can be a daunting task. Please always consult your midwife, physician, pediatrician, lactation consultant or other health care provider to ensure your baby is eating well and gaining weight appropriately.
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests (in blue) the following
- Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately 6 months
- Continue breastfeeding until the baby's first birthday or longer while mutually desired by mother and baby
- Practice appropriate bottle feeding practices:
- avoid bottle propping
- Only breast milk or formula in bottle unless otherwise directed by physician"
Let's start with breast feeding. Breastfeeding can be HARD! Some moms struggle with production, getting a good latch, mastitis, tongue tie etc. When baby is first born, it usually takes about 4 days for mom's milk to let down. Although sometimes when that happens, there isn't enough being produced to satisfy baby. This was the case for me with my second baby. Luckily my midwife wrote me a prescription for donor milk from BC Children's Hospital. (To all the moms who are super producers and donate your milk to this incredible cause, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. You are giving such a gift!) I was then able to nurse as much as I could at each feeding and if my babe needed a top up, I could simply warm up the donor milk! You can just as easily do so with formula.
I've invited local MamaCoach, Amanda Archibald to provide us with her top 5 tips to improve success in breast feeding! Amanda is a wonder! She's a Registered Nurse, a Lactation Consultant and a Baby Sleep Coach annnd she's a Vancouver Mom also!!Her top 5 tips are as follows;
"1) Education - THIS is so so important, most people have never learned about breastfeeding before they have to breastfeed, so while trying to recover from birth, learning to take care of a new baby (add in some sleep deprivation) and trying to take in new information about breastfeeding too, this is overwhelming to say the least... Fed is best but I also think INFORMED decision making is important in this process as well and that is where education comes in!
2) Support - it is important that your spouse, family, friends etc know what your preference is with regards to breastfeeding. This is also a bit about education as well, the more they know, the more they are able to support you and baby in the process, especially during hard times.
3) Nourishment! - AH! this is so important, often I show up and while chatting with mom I ask "when did YOU eat last" and often they can remember. Your nutrition and hydration is SO SO important. Creating breastmilk takes calories and water. Drink to match her thirst - on average a breastfeeding mother should be drinking about 12 cups a day.
4) Check out resources - It is great to get to know your local resources. Often so many new moms don't even know where to turn. Most communities have great Le Leche League groups, local breastfeeding clinics or Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) - Check out this website for local IBCLC's - http://www.bclca.ca/Find-a-BCLCA-Lactation-Consultant
5) Antenatal Hand expression - This is a relatively new concept but I have found it so useful for establishing breastfeeding. This refers to expressing colostrum (first milk) from the breasts after 36 weeks gestation AND most importantly after approval from a physician or midwife to do so. I like to think of it as "priming the tubing." We use hand expression to manually remove and collect colostrum before baby arrives, It gives mamas the opportunity to practice handling your breast and practice expressing before baby comes and helps build a little store of colostrum if your baby should have difficulty latching to begin with."
Amanda offers in Home Lactation Consulting as well as prenatal breastfeeding sessions and Antenatal hand expression classes, where she will come and talk about breastfeeding before baby arrives which has been hugely successful for establishing breastfeeding! Reach out if you are ever looking for support, She is always happy to help!
I share the same opinion with Amanda - fed is best. I do know that breast milk is truly liquid gold but if you just cannot produce it or you do not have access to donor milk, formula is needed, and there is nothing wrong with that! Do not feel guilty!!! Do not feel like your baby is at a disadvantage and do not stress about it!
With my first born, my supply dried up after about 4-5 months and my son was solely on formula after that until solids were introduced, all the while still having formula until about 1.5 years old. At that time however, I was not aware of the variety of options available (or perhaps they weren't available at that time because that was 8 years ago!) I purchased the best quality formula I could find at my grocery store. Unfortunately the standards for "organic" here in North America is not as strict as they are in Europe, but I did the best I could at the time with what I knew.
I've now found that there are more options available that are organic, and high quality. In my opinion Holle and HiPP formula are the best on the market! I personally really like Holle Goat's Milk formula as its composition is closest to mothers milk and can be more easily digested Because these brands are created in Germany, on organic, biodynamic, GMO free farms, you can purchase them online at Beyond Organic Baby (not sponsored). These brands come in stages - meaning they have different compositions based on babies age! Also, Both companies are fiercely dedicated to sustainability (yayyy) so that's another fantastic reason to support them!
Check out Dr. Young's website for more information on the benefits of European formulas.
At or around the age of 6 months your baby's digestive system should be ready for the introduction of solids. The AAP recommends:
- Introduce solid foods around 6 months of age
- Expose baby to a wide variety of healthy foods
- Also offer a variety of textures"
How to tell if your baby is ready for solids
- he can sit upright and hold his head up
- he seems hungry after nursing/bottle feeding
- he's lost the tongue thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of his mouth
- he seems interested in the foods you're eating - staring at your food, reaching food it, mimicking you chewing
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to how to introduce solids. One being baby led weaning which focuses on allowing baby to feed themselves by hand. This practice is believed to support hand-eye coordination, dexterity and offers the opportunity to experiment with textures, tastes, smells and colours of various foods. The idea is that once your baby shows signs of being ready, you offer a number of choices of foods for them to choose from and they eat what they like. We'll chat more about BLW in future.
Then others believe that pureed food is a way to ensure baby receives adequate nutrients. Pureeing baby's food means that you can hide tastes that baby would usually have an aversion to (ex. broccoli) with an enjoyable taste (ex. banana or squash) to get those cruciferous goods into their tummy. While blending up all of baby's food can be time consuming, it can also be very rewarding knowing that your babe is enjoying all the healthy foods they need.
There is no right way to feed solids to your baby. I recommend paying attention to your baby's ques and doing what is right for him/her. Whichever way you decide to feed your baby is up to you and your family.
Foods to introduce:
- egg yolk
- melon, mango
- carrots, sweet potato, beets, rutabaga, parsnip
- tastes of yogurt, kefir (sour tastes)
- chicken liver
- cod liver oil
- creamed soups/stews
- dairy (ex. cottage cheese, Greek yogurt)
- pre soaked brown rice (if baby seems ready, if not, wait until 12 months)
- nuts and seeds
After 12 months:
- nut butters
- cooked leafy vegetables
- raw salad vegetables
- citrus fruit
- whole egg
Snacking and Healthy Drinks
AAP Suggests "After 9 months, offer 2-3 healthy and nutritious snacks per day. Maintain fruit and vegetable consumption after finger foods are introduced."
"Babies should drink breastmilk or formula for the first year of life. Try to avoid introducing juice until child is a toddler . If juice is introduced, wait until 6-9 months and limit consumption to 4-6 ounces. Avoid introduction of sugar-sweetened beverages."
Fun and Healthy Snacks:
- carrot sticks
- celery sticks
- yogurt (coconut yogurt with fruit is a big hit in our house)
- Any other fruit/vegetable
You might also be wondering how much solids your little one needs at each age/per sitting. Be sure these foods are cooked/steamed and soft enough for baby to eat. There are opinions available that suggest rigid amounts of food and specific numbers of feedings per day - for example:
4-6 months = 2-4 Tsb of fruits/veg 2X per day.
However, I always suggest instead that you feed your baby on demand. Of course you will notice a schedule appear but your baby's hunger can change day to day based on foods they are eating, peaks in development and energy being expended. If you are concerned that your baby may not be getting enough food, contact your physician or paediatrician.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined the following feeding guidelines
- "start at 6 months with small amounts of food and increase gradually as the child gets older;
- gradually increase food consistency and variety;
- increase the number of times that the child is fed: 2–3 meals per day for infants 6–8 months of age and 3–4 meals per day for infants 9–23 months of age, with 1–2 additional snacks as required"