There's more to feeding a baby then just feeding the baby. There are do's and don'ts when it comes to feeding a child of any age. The best thing to do is not pressure the little one and to pay attention to their needs and wants. Don't over due or under-do things. Feeding techniques, the amount of food, and the diet itself are all things to think about.
Of course the most important thing is that the child is fed but people don't realize how many mistakes can actually be made when trying to feed a child.
Here's a list of 15 ways you may be messing with your baby's feeding process.
How do you chose the right bottle? How do you know which size and type of nipple is best, or what materials? There are plastic, glass, silicone, and stainless steel bottles that comes in all shapes and sizes that mimic different types of breasts and nipples. It's easy for new parents to get carried away or confused when picking out bottles for their baby. There are so many options and brands, it's insane! You can easily stand there for hours racking your brain staring at the variety. Truth is, parents tend to get the fancy ones rather than just the simple BPA free ones. All you need is food grade plastic and BPA-free bottles and you'll be fine, says Dr. Artish Ladded. You don't need expensive, fancy bottles. Also your baby "shouldn't" have trouble going from breast to bottle and back if that's the plan.
Breastfeeding doesn't require any mixing and is completely natural. However, there is nothing wrong with formula feeding if you choose to do so. A thing you have to keep in mind with bottle feeding is that it requires you to mix water and formula. It's easy to have too much or too little water. Same goes with formula. Not mixing in the right amount can throw off the nutrients and your baby may be getting too much or not enough. Any tub or container of formula that you get will come with its own scoop. More times than not it will be one scoop per two ounces. The scoop should be level and unpacked. To be safe, it's essential that you read ALL the instructions and measure carefully. This is your baby's nourishment and you don't want to mess that up.
When you switch from breast feeding to bottle feeding or you are switching back and forth between breast feeding and bottle feeding, you need to make sure you keep the milk flow in check. A nipple with a hole to wide will allow the baby to get milk even when he or she isn't sucking and that can cause infections. Also, this could be hazardous and allow your baby to choke. Be sure to keep the bottle up enough to ensure that your little one isn't sucking air because that can make them colic which causes a baby to be uncomfortable and fussy. You only want the bottle tipped up enough to where there is only milk flow when they suck. The perfect positioning of the bottle will ensure that your baby is only getting the milk when he or she is wanting or needing it. As your child gets older or if you're feeding them cereal, you may need to upgrade the nipple to a faster flow - wider hole - as you go.
Any formula milk should NEVER be reheated! If it has been out long enough that you feel the need to heat it up, it's probably no longer good for your baby. However, if you pump milk and bottle feed it or have extra, don't microwave it. Using a microwave to heat up your breast milk will kill a lot of the vitamins and minerals. Also, it causes hot spots through out the bottle that may burn your little one's mouth making it harder for them to eat. If you're going to go through the work to have pump your breast milk and you want your baby to have it, a better alternative is to warm heat it on the stove, stir almost constantly, and avoid boiling it. Make sure it's not too hot and you shake it well after you put it in a bottle.
As mentioned earlier, the positioning of the bottle and the milk flow are essentials to proper feeding. Don't let your little one hold the bottle on their own to feed themselves, it could easily result in choking. Honestly, letting your baby fall asleep with their bottle in their mouth is not only a bad habit to start because soon they wont be able to fall asleep without it, but that could also lead to choking among other things. Milk and juice can cause damage to teeth and gums causing your baby to be in pain. Also, letting your baby feed themselves in the crib while falling asleep can result in tooth decay. Make sure someone holds the bottle while your baby is eating.
A lot of parents think that it is necessary to try and make an eating schedule. There is no need to wake up your little one in the middle of the night or in the middle of a nap to try and make them eat unless directed by their healthcare provider. Allow your baby to let you know when he or she is hungry and feed them when they are. Sometimes a fixed feeding time is not needed. Don't always assume that crying means hunger. If your baby just ate thirty or forty minutes ago, check for another problem that could have started the crying spree. It's possible that he/she may very well be hungry again, so if nothing else works go ahead and make a small bottle. The most important thing is to just trust your baby, they know when they're hungry and when they're full.
It's ok for your baby to not want the whole bottle. If he or she ends up getting hungry after a while feed them some more. Keep in mind that formula isn't good very long if they don't drink it all at once so keep track of time, you may have to just make another bottle. It's important to not make them try to finish the bottle, even if there is only a little bit left. That's kind of how breast feeding works. When they are done, they are done. Trying to encourage them to finish the bottle can lead to them being too full which can cause a fussy baby and gastric problems. Neither are fun to deal with, nor is it healthy for your little one. Another thing to think about is stretching out your baby's tummy. Eventually your baby's tummy can get bigger than it should be, requiring him or her to want more then they should be eating at this stage in life resulting in an overweight child.
No matter what, make sure your baby burps after each feeding. It's essential so that all of the trapped gas or air from feeding can get out. Trapped air can result in uncomfortable sleeping and a whinny baby. Try to get two to three burps out after a feeding to be the most sure that you got that built up air out. It might help to feed your little one a couple ounces at a time and burp in between. Sometimes it may take quite a while, especially when you are half asleep it may seem like it takes forever but don't give up on that burp. You and your baby will both be thankful. It's normal for babies to burp or fart while they are asleep too, so don't think that you should stop burping them just because they fell asleep. That air will still come out, asleep or not.
Children learn by watching others. It's common for babies to be fed separate meals all by themselves with little to no variety. There is no need for that. Get them up at the table, pass them around to see what's going on and learn a little. Ensure that they are introduced to a large variety of foods, let them try a little bit of everything that's on your plate. You might be surprised at what your little one will like. The ages from six months old to two years old are when children are the most open to trying new foods. Introduce them to things you will want them to eat later. Feeding your kids the same thing all the time is not a healthy habit. It makes for a picky eater. The lack in variety of foods can affect the child as he or she grows and you will eventually get tired of cooking the same thing all the time.
Once your child starts getting teeth, graduates into the toddler stage and starts to eat more and more solids, don't be afraid to expose them to new foods several times. Everything new is probably going to surprise them. It's things they have never had before. You know how you can decide whether or not to try new things based on what it is and you somewhat know what to expect? Well, babies have no clue, they just know that they are hungry. So yes, they may make funny faces for a while but let them get used to it. Introduce them to a lot of new foods and don't be afraid to shoot for a new item everyday. Just because they don't like it once doesn't mean that they will never like it. It takes about twenty times of trying something for them to accept it or be used to that food. Allow them to feel it and put it in their mouth and spit out and do it again. Over time they will either realize they really do like it or that maybe they really don't.
Not all snacks you give your toddler will be healthy and that's okay. Even you cheat way more than you should when it comes to eating "healthy". But try to set a good example. Allowing your kid to eat a bunch of cookies a couple hours before supper is not a good idea. If it is getting close to supper time try and make them hold off. Giving them a task, playing a game with them or asking them to help in preparation for the meal may take their mind off of eating for a little while longer. Have them set the table with appropriate silverware or stir some ingredients together that you will need for supper, have them clean their room or pick up toys in the living room. I'm not saying don't spoil them a little with a cookie or sucker here and there, but if they are snacking, try healthier snacks throughout the day like fruits and veggies.
It is recommended that children get a half cup of 100% juice a day. Having said that, the rest should be water or even milk. But water is the best for them. A lot of kids are into to bug juice, tea, kool-aid, or even pop. Even you have to have those couple sodas or teas. Water gets old sometimes when that's all you can have. It's not going to hurt for them to get a bug juice on the quick stop at the gas station, they will be fine. However, more then the recommended amount of juice can result in your toddler not being hungry for their meals. Also, sugary drinks are not a good habit to start especially at a young age. Too much sugar can cause cavities in the future including other health problems like obesity and juvenile diabetes.
You'll come across a time when your toddler will throw a tantrum and scream and kick and cry because play time is over and it's time to eat. When they are sitting at the table for a meal there shouldn't be any toys available. It will seem like the easiest thing to do is to just give it to them so they will shut up and stay in their chair, but it will likely distract them and prevent them from eating. It may take a while but once they know that you mean business, they'll stop asking. If they play the "i'm not hungry" card then have them sit at the table with the rest of the family until the meal is over. Odds are they will get tired of sitting there watching everyone else eat and they will give in.
Banning bad foods may seem like a good idea, and it will work for now, but it the long run it will most likely bite you in the ass. It's important to expose and allow your child to have some junk food every now and then. You're not ruining their "diet". When children haven't had access to junk food (candy, sugary snacks) they will be over sensitive to them when they finally do. Yes, your kid is only a toddler but going to school may turn into the first rebel stage. "How much of this delicious junk can I eat before I go home and can't have any". It's much better to allow them small amounts here and there. With never being able to have them and then all the sudden being exposed, their body could act a little "cray cray" with all the sugar and they may be bouncing off the walls.