Birth to 4 months
Breast milk or formula
Breast–feeding is best for babies, but this may not be possible in case of few health problems or for new mothers who want to return to work. New mothers who want to return to work have often been able to combine breast–feeding with formula–feeding (powder milk).
The nursing mother usually needs an extra 500 kilocalories per day, along with 20 more grams of protein and 400 more milligrams of calcium. This can be supplied by adding a glass of milk, a slightly larger serving of meat, and an egg or a slice of bread. Drinking plenty of water will help provide the needed liquid.
Advantages of breast feeding
- Breast milk contains best combination of nutrients for your baby.
- Breast milk contains factors which help protect your baby from viruses and bacteria since in the first few weeks your baby has little resistance to diseases.
Disadvantages of breast feeding
- Babies can receive harmful substances from a mother’s milk if she is on medications, alcohol and caffeine, (However, mothers can easily limit their use of caffeine and alcohol, and only use medication on the advice of their doctor.)
- It is easy to prop the bottle in the baby's mouth while doing something else rather than give the baby the love and attention it needs.
The stomach of a newborn infant has a capacity of less than 1/4 cup or three hours. Babies get hungry at irregular times during the first few weeks and as they grow they become more regular and will be able to go longer between feedings.
Just like older children and adults, babies need water, daily, as well as milk. These fluids are necessary for the formation of urine to help remove wastes from the body. Babies need about 1/3 cup of fluid per pound of body weight up to 18 pounds. At heavier weights, fluid needs are smaller. A 12 pound baby, for example, needs about 4 cups of fluid a day. Most of this should come from breast milk or formula though in hot weather many babies may need additional water.
Vitamin & mineral supplements
Breast milk and commercial formulas contain adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals for normal infants. Although breast milk and formula contain very small amounts of vitamin C, it is enough to meet a baby’s needs. Generally the vitamins and minerals in breast milk are well–absorbed and used by an infant. A full–term baby who has a well nourished mother is born with iron stores large enough to last nearly six months.
Many babies cry inconsolably after given a feed. Some may even vomit. Colic may be a result of something the baby has eaten, or something the mother has eaten that appears in her milk. Most babies get fussy or appear colicky at times. Practice some comforting techniques, such as rocking your baby or talking or singing softly to her.
Small babies can sense when a parent is tense rather than relaxed. So always make a comfortable environment while feeding your baby. It is most important for parents to make decisions that are right for the family. Whichever feeding method is chosen, the baby needs to be fed in an atmosphere of love. The baby should be nestled close, touched, rocked, and talked to during feeding times. Without this tender, physical contact, babies often fail to grow and develop.