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What is an Infant Feeding Guide?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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An infant feeding guide helps to answer questions about what and how much babies should eat. Guides are produced by a number of sources and can be found in infant parenting books, in pamphlets created by government or nonprofit agencies, and sometimes from more commercial sources such as formula companies. Many of the guides look fairly similar and will consistently the same or similar information and advice; parents should plan on reviewing several guides and getting advice from pediatricians on feeding babies.

There are different ways an infant feeding guide may be organized. Most cover the period from birth to 12 months, splitting each section into several months. Typically the first section is either zero to four or zero to three months. Subsequent sections could each be two or three months long. Each new section introduces slight changes to how often the baby should receive breastmilk or formula and could suggest changes to the baby’s diet like introducing solid foods. Not all guides stress quick introduction to solid foods, and those created by committed breastfeeding advocacy agencies certainly don’t.

Recommendations for first few months in most infant feeding guide examples is to first give breast milk or appropriate formula, and a guide made by a formula company might suggest its own products. Suggestion of brand or product isn’t always appropriate. Occasionally, parents have to look for different formulas made by other companies if a baby isn’t tolerating a certain type of formula well.

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Instead of stating how many times a baby should be fed, an infant feeding guide will typically give a range of how often feedings should occur. Some might suggest feedings by hour (every two to four hours for newborns) or suggest the number of feedings (10-12 a day for zero to three month olds). Guides should stress that intervals or number of feedings aren’t always ironclad. Parents should still see if the baby is getting enough or feeding to the frequency near suggested intervals. If not, they could discuss this with a doctor. If the baby is consistently falling short of the recommended feedings per day, this may be due to illness.

As babies grow, they nurse or bottle-feed less, usually eating more with each meal, and begin to show interest in solid foods. An infant feeding guide may have different recommendations on when to introduce solids, how much solids to give and types of foods to offer. Since there is dispute on this issue, parents will need to find a guide that best reflects personal views. Those strongly supportive of breastfeeding can find guides that stress offering exclusively breastmilk through year one, but these won’t be useful for parents wanting to introduce solids earlier.

It makes sense to evaluate several infant feeding guide examples, and check conflicting advice with pediatricians. It is important to note that guides are just guides, and don’t always conform exactly to a baby’s individual demands. Parents shouldn’t force food on unwilling children. Ultimately, the best guide is regular visits to doctors that confirm the baby is growing and developing at a normal, healthy pace.

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