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From birth, infants follow their
internal hunger and fullness cues. They eat when they're hungry and stop eating
when they're full. Experts agree that newborns should be fed on demand. This
means that you breast- or bottle-feed your infant whenever he or she shows
signs of hunger, rather than setting a strict schedule. You let your infant
stop feeding at will, even if there is milk left in the bottle or your breast
still feels full.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast-feeding
babies for at least the first year and giving only breast milk for the first 6
months.1 Although breast-fed babies get the best possible nutrition, they will probably need certain vitamin or nutritional supplements to maintain or improve their health, especially iron. If you are unable to or
choose not to breast-feed, feed your baby commercially prepared iron-fortified
formula. Cow's milk, goat's
milk, and soy milk are not appropriate for babies younger than 1 year of age.
They do not contain the amounts of fat, iron, and other nutrients that very
young babies need in order to grow and develop properly. Also, the protein in
cow's and goat's milk is very hard for young babies to digest.
your baby reaches 6 months of age, you can begin adding other foods besides
breast milk or infant formula to your baby's diet. You and your baby can make
this transition smoothly if you follow these tips:
By 12 months, your child will be able to eat many of the same
foods the rest of the family eats. Your child can sit with you at the table for
short periods of time during meals. Sharing meals with your child allows him or
her see you eating a variety of foods, which makes it more likely that your
child will also eat a variety of foods as he or she gets older.
your infant reaches 1 year of age, you may find it helpful to know what your
job is and what your child's job is when it comes to eating. Parents provide
meal structure. That means you are in charge of deciding when meals and snacks are served, where
meals and snacks are eaten, and what is served. Your
child's job is to decide how much of the provided foods
he or she will eat. This will help you avoid power struggles about food.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on
Breastfeeding (2005). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 115(2): 496–506.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0–3 years of age). Pediatrics, 126(5): 1040–1050. Available online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/126/5/1040.
August 29, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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