In feeding babies, parents need to take a lot of things in consideration. Parents need to make a vital decision whether or not they want their baby to be breastfed. Breast milk is definitely best for babies, but commercially prepared formulas are also designed to provide the needed nutrients of infants. Ultimately, parents have the prerogative in choosing what they think is the best for their baby. This decision may be best made after weighing your options with a health care provider, so that you are bound to make an informed choice.
Many new parents may find it hard to determine how much and how often babies need to be fed. Generally, it is recommended to feed a baby per demand, but do you really know the hunger cues of your baby? Do you still wait out for your baby to cry before you offer him milk or formula?
Crying in infants may or may not indicate hunger. There are instances when all your baby needs is a change of diaper, or he may only want to be cuddled. A good way to determine whether your baby is already hungry is to keep track of the time of his last feeding. If your baby has recently fed and he seems upset, then hunger may not be the reason why he is not content.
Here are the common signs of hunger in babies:
– hand to mouth activity
– cooing and fussing sounds
– moving head from side to side
– rooting reflex (when a baby moves to the direction of a stroke or a touch to the cheek)
It is important to understand that babies have varied needs. Newborns generally need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours, but as babies grow older they may already tolerate bigger feedings. This will allow babies to go on longer stretches after each feeding. Establishing a regular feeding pattern may be good, but a rigid feeding schedule may not be advisable. There will be instances when babies will be hungrier than usual, and during these times it is important to still continue to feed per demand. These are common during periods of growth spurts, which are expected when the baby is around 2-3 weeks old or 6 weeks old. Growth spurts also occur when babies turn 3 or 6 months old.
Once you have an established feeding schedule, you will be able to estimate how much milk you need to prepare or pump. After some time, you may need to adjust the volume of the milk you need to prepare, depending on the amount of milk that your baby can already consume. Generally newborns can consume 1 ½ to 3 ounces of milk every 2 to 3 hours. Two month old babies on the other hand, can already consume 4 to 5 ounces of milk every 3 to 4 hours. By the time babies reach 6 months old, he can already consume 8 ounces of formula or more, depending on whether baby food has already been introduced.
If you are worried if your baby is not feeding enough, you can monitor his soiled diapers each day. You should be able to expect at least 6 wet diapers and 4 soiled diapers in the beginning. Be very wary of orange crystals when changing diapers because it can already be an indication of inadequate fluid intake in babies.
In order to ensure that your baby is on the right track, it is very important to follow scheduled well-baby check-ups. These visits to the doctor are essential, so that your baby’s growth can be monitored. It also gives you an opportunity to ask your doctor pertinent questions regarding the care of your baby.
Each day is an opportunity for parents to get to know their baby. From hunger cues to signals that a baby is already full, these are already significant signs of early communication between parents and child. While caring for newborns can be demanding, each day can be a meaningful learning experience for parents, who want nothing more than what is really best for their baby.