Before your baby is born, there’s lots of planning and preparing that needs to be done. These things include, but aren’t limited to: preparing the nursery with all the essentials, deciding on a birth plan, replacing any harsh chemicals you use inside your home, and even figuring out how you’re going to get your little one home from the hospital (car seat shopping time!). But another significant decision that needs to be made is how you are going to feed your baby. There are three ways to go about this: breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or combining the two and pumping. After this phase, you’ll get into solid foods and that’s a whole different ball game! But seriously. Each method of feeding has its pros and cons and its do’s and don’t’s. But what it comes down to is this: each method’s goal is to provide the proper nutrients so that your infant may grow and begin mastering their milestones.
We know there a lot of division on which type of feeding is best for baby (e.g., “breast is best”), but at Best Baby Inc. we support each approach. Our goal is to educate and support moms no matter which route they take. After all, what’s best for one family might not be the right idea for the next. Keep that in mind when browsing these topics and engaging in conversation online and in person. Being a mom is tough and we should support each other and grow together as we take on this wild adventure called parenthood.
Breastfeeding, also known as nursing, is when you feed your baby directly from your breast. This method is extremely popular (about 75% of moms breastfeed soon after birth) and has been nourishing babies for as long as time can tell. In recent years, researchers have strongly associated breastfeeding with all things positive – and the science is convincing enough. Breast milk is a one of a kind formula that’s hard to replicate. There are so many benefits for both mom and baby.
Benefits for Mom
Benefits for Baby
Something to consider is that breastfeeding isn’t necessarily the sole factor in some of these benefits. For example, intelligence / higher IQ is also extremely related to adult-infant interactions such a reading, which can be completed regardless of bottle feeding or breastfeeding. Obviously, if breastfeeding helped prevent obesity and diabetes, we would have much lower prevalence of those health concerns in our modern society; but that’s not the case. Keep an open mind when reading about all the benefits of breastfeeding, as some of the benefits could have a significant amount of factors playing a role.
Researchers recommend solely breastfeeding your little one for at least the first six months of life, followed by at least another six months of breastfeeding possibly combined with nutritional formula and solid foods. How do you know when to stop? The AAP recommends that breastfeeding should be continued as long as mutually desired by mother and child. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant about your problem and how to best tackle the issue.
While most moms start out breastfeeding, almost half quit nursing by the six month mark, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a surprising number. There are lots of factors contributing to this drop (e.g., work and family demands, health issues, etc.) but it also comes down to this: breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s also downright difficult.
There’s lots of tips and tricks when it comes to breastfeeding, and everyone seems to have their own opinion, especially when it comes to night weaning. But to makes things easier, we’ve assembled a list of the top do’s and don’t’s that will help you along the way:
In the end, know that newborns nurse A LOT. You should feed your baby 8-10 times a day and keep track of feedings so that you can confirm with your pediatrician that your baby is receiving enough nourishment. Breast milk is the perfect food for babies and your child will help your body learn how much milk it needs to make. And this can take time. If you are concerned or having trouble, contact a lactation consultant and/or your doctor to help you out.
Bottle feeding refers to a baby that if fed using a bottle rather than directly nursing from the breast. The bottle can contain either milk or formula (but not usually both simultaneously). If the bottle contains breast milk, this is accomplished using a breast pump or in rare cases milk from a donor mom. On the other side, there are a few reasons a bottle may contain formula:
- Formula can be used to supplement breast milk or solid foods in the early stages,
- Mom cannot produce milk,
- Baby refuses to breastfeed,
- Other circumstances such as medication, job demands, demanding toddlers, infection, unfixable latching issues, severe postpartum depression, and more,
- Mom decides it’s best for her health or the baby’s health to not breastfeed for whichever reason.
There’s an endless amount of reasons to use formula, and any decision to do so should be respected and there is no shame in this decision. Either way, the baby was fed and loved; and that’s really all that matters. Many campaigns touting the wonders of breastfeeding have been so remarkably successful that some women feel ashamed and guilty that they can’t or won’t breastfeed. This is unfortunate because these mothers are likely doing a wonderful job.
Something to think about: bottle-feeding peaked post World War II, a time during which childhood obesity was extremely rare and the baby boomers still managed to create a technologically advanced modern society. Plus, while about 75% of moms breastfeed, that figure falls to about 40% after 6 months. No woman should feel guilty about feeding her baby with healthy formula. We should all really just quit crying over spilled milk.
Whether your bottle is filled with formula or milk, there’s a plenty of do’s and don’t’s to consider when bottle feeding your little one:
When in doubt, ask! Your pediatrician will be able to give solid advice on when to start stretching out your feedings, begin sleep coaching, increase volume of feedings, etc. And while nursing pillows are named like they’re for breastfeeding, they make a great addition to any bottle feeding session. They take the extra strain off your back and shoulders, all the while keeping baby comfortable and at an appropriate angle that helps prevent bottle caries.
Remember, whatever your reason is for bottle feeding (whether that bottle contains milk or formula), you should never feel guilty or ashamed. Being a mom is tough and you should always do whatever is right for both you and baby, not just baby. Reach out whenever you need help and try to create a support system within your family to help keep you motivated and healthy.
Compared to breastfeeding and bottle feeding, solids food is in its own realm. This is the time in your baby’s life when he/she will be exposed to many different new tastes and textures, and will experience many new things (like different poop!). Many parents find themselves confused during this time period about when to start the process, what to start with, and how much variety to incorporate because they’ve received so many differing opinions. On the other hand, some parents have an exact plan and know what they’re doing. Either way, there’s lots of helpful hints, tips and tricks, and do’s and don’t’s that you should consider when moving into this phase of your child’s life.
Remember, pediatricians recommend that you should solely breastfeed (or formula feed) your baby for at least the first six months. After that, you can start introducing solid foods to supplement milk/formula. However, food shouldn’t overtake milk until at least 12 months – milk should be the main source of nutrients until baby is at least 12 months old. Every child reaches the different milestones at different rates, so how do you know when your little one is ready? There are four factors to consider:
- Can they move food from spoon to throat? If you spoon feed your baby food and they spit it out and it dribbles down their chin, they probably aren’t ready yet. The ability to move food to the back of the mouth for swallowing is a skill that comes with time. It will take some practice, but not until your baby is ready for the task at hand.
- Is she big enough? Generally speaking, when infants weigh more than 13 pounds and are double their birth weight, they are more likely to be ready for solid foods.
- Does he seem interested? If your baby watches you eat, reaches for your food, and seems eager to be fed, it might be time to start trying solid foods.
- Can she hold her head up? With good head control, your infant should be able to sit in a high chair, infant seat, or feeding seat.
Readiness for solid foods varies greatly and you shouldn’t force it, but the average is between 4-6 months. If your baby cries or turns away when you offer food, return to exclusively nursing / bottle feeding for a couple more weeks before trying again. Plus, don’t be surprised when the first few feedings end with more food everywhere else other than your infant’s tummy.
There are three phases of solid food:
- Stage 1: foods in this stage are single ingredient, non-processed foods that are extremely watered down with milk/formula. Stereotypically, people first think of “baby cereal,” although there is no evidence to suggest that foods should be introduced in any particular order.
- Stage 2: these foods are slightly thicker / less watered down than stage 1 but are still non-processed, no sugar foods that are easy for baby to digest. The main feature of this stage compared to stage 1 is an expanded menu of lots of different flavors, tastes, and textures.
- Stage 3: the first two stages are more purees while stage 3 is considered to be “soft chunks.” Foods can also be offered in combination instead of single ingredient recipes.
While this milestone can be an exciting one, it also can be quite the difficult challenge. Here are some do’s and don’ts to guide you along the way:
Starting solid foods can be a frustrating milestone but it can also be so much fun to watch the faces your baby will make when trying new tastes and textures. This is one of the greatest steps towards toddler-hood and before you know it, your baby will be a food connoisseur. But in the meantime, start good habits early, include a wide variety of foods each day, and buy a high chair that’s super easy to clean!