Nothing is quite as exciting as bringing your baby home for the first time. There’s lots to look forward to in the months and years ahead, from their first steps and first words, to new cots and new clothes. However, although there’s many memorable moments to come, those first few weeks in particular can, naturally, be a nervy time for new parents, particularly those who haven’t had a baby before. Amidst all the cooing and cuddles, you’ll probably have a lot of questions too.
Knowing how much your baby should eat and when you should be feeding them are just some of the queries you’ll have. Luckily, ensuring your child gets the right amount of food at the right time isn’t too much of a difficult task once you know the basics. If you’re choosing to formula feed, keep your child healthy, happy and well-fed with our baby feeding guide.
How often do you need to feed a newborn?
It’s best to feed newborns every two to three hours1. At this stage, your baby’s stomach can’t hold too much, so it’s best to feed them smaller amounts of formula or milk more often. That way, you can ensure they get all the nutrients they need while lowering the risk of them being sick.
Those first few magical months are a stage of constant development for your newborn, so it’s important to make sure your little one is getting the right nutrition during this period of growth. To gauge when is the best time to feed them, look out for some of the tell-tale signs of hunger like crying and suckling. Feeding your baby when they show signs of being hungry is called demand feeding, which simply means you’re responding to their individual requirements and their hunger.
When your baby is a little older, they’ll be able to talk and tell you when they’re hungry, but until that time, you’ll start to get used to those little behavioural clues that let you know they want feeding, such as:
- Crying and having difficulty settling
- Sucking on hands, fingers or fists
- Opening their mouth excessively
- Making a sucking motion with their lips
- Shaking their head as if searching for a food source
Of course, these behaviours don’t always mean your little one is hungry, but it can be a good indicator.
How much do you feed older babies?
Your baby’s feeding needs will change as they grow, particularly as they expend more energy moving around on their own, crawling and walking. As their tummies get bigger, your child will require more food, so it’s best to feed them a larger amount every four hours or so1.
What should a newborn eat?
Your baby won’t yet have the digestive system to cope with solid foods, so you’ll start them off with liquids that are easy to eat and easy for them to digest. Before the six-month mark, it’s best to feed them baby milk or a formula mix, which are both packed with all the necessary vitamins and nutrients they need to grow and develop.
All babies are different too and much like all of us, they’ll have preferences, so don’t worry if they struggle to adapt to a certain type of food. Simple trial and error can help you settle on something they like that gives them everything they need.
How much should I feed my baby?
A baby’s appetite can vary as much as their personality, so look to match how much you’re feeding your child with their individual requirements, regardless of age. A good place to start for a newborn is to feed them around 150 to 200ml of formula for every kilo they weigh2, which can be upped steadily over the first few weeks and months as they grow.
At first, your baby will eat little and often, as their stomach will not be able to handle a lot of formula, so they will generally need feeding once every two or three hours. As they get older, the volume of formula they eat in one sitting will rise, but they’ll also eat less often.
When can babies eat baby food?
One of the first milestones in your baby’s life will be that move away from a purely liquid-based diet and towards baby food, which will usually happen at around six-months old. However, it’s best to make this transition a steady one to allow them to get used to the change.
Start by supplementing a little baby-specific soft food in alongside their formula feeds. Give it a few days between trying different foods so you can check that your baby isn’t allergic to any of the ingredients and to ensure it doesn’t upset their stomach.
Most parents will begin by feeding their babies specially formulated baby cereal. This, usually made from oatmeal and fortified with essential nutrients and vitamins, is a good place to start as it’s quite simple and mixes well with a little formula milk.
From there, you can try other pureed foods. These can be found in most major supermarkets or can even be easily made at home from fruits and vegetables to give your baby a healthy introduction to solid foods.
When do babies eat solid food?
You can start introducing solid food to your baby’s diet at around the six-month mark, starting off with soft foods once they’re used to eating baby food. Start slowly to allow them to adjust and to keep an eye out for any allergic reactions.
There will be tastes that your baby prefers more than others, but keep introducing new flavours to allow their taste to develop and let them find the foods they enjoy.
This is a good time to begin letting your baby feed themselves too. Cut or mash some vegetables into small, thumb sized pieces and hand them to your little one. Doing this can help them become familiar with different textures and feelings, improve coordination and grip and allow them to develop their first sense of independence.
Good foods to mash up for your baby at this stage include:
- Sweet Potato
- Bell Peppers
Feeding your baby the right foods at the right time is an important part of their development process and will provide your child with a nutritious and healthy start to life at home.
Explore more top tips and helpful hints to guide you through your baby’s early stages with JOHNSON’S® Baby.
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