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Recently, a new parent asked me how to know that their baby is getting its proper nutrition.
As a parent, it’s quite natural to have questions and concerns about feeding your baby. It’s also natural for some to take a little time before feeling confident about the many aspects of breastfeeding, especially with a first child. So let’s go over some nutrition basics for babies to get you started on the right foot.
First of all, if you decide to breastfeed, your baby won’t need any other food or drink for the first six months, as mother’s milk contains all the energy, nutrients and fluids your child will need for healthy growth and development. Breast milk also contains immune factors that can help protect your baby against infections and disease.
If you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about adding a vitamin D supplement to both your and your child’s diet. If you decide to formula feed your baby then you don’t need to worry about adding a vitamin D supplement to your diets.
If you are not breastfeeding, infant formula is the only suitable alternative in the first twelve months of your baby’s life. A simple guideline is 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of infant body weight per day, so a baby weighing 6 pounds should be given approximately 15 ounces of formula a day, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
If you do formula-feed your baby, or if you use a pacifier, be sure to thoroughly clean the bottles, pacifiers, and your hands with soap and hot water between feedings. This will help safeguard your child from oral thrush, a common yeast infection in babies that causes irritation in and around the mouth. Watch for white patches on the lips, tongue or inside the cheeks, or cracked skin in the corner of the mouth. See your doctor if you think your baby might have this condition. You may be prescribed an antifungal solution.
There are a few obvious signs that will let you know whether or not your child is full or still hungry.
• A low pitched cry can be a sign of hunger.
• If your baby wakes up, acts restless, sucks on their fists, smacks their lips or is rooting, these can also be signs of hunger.
• On the other hand, closing the lips and turning the head away might mean the child is full.
• Repeatedly spitting out the nipple can be another sign that your baby is full.
• If they fall asleep after a long feed that is likely a sign that they are full.
• Another potential sign that your nursed baby is full is their muscles are relaxed. To know for sure, you can gently raise their arm and if it drops back to their side without hesitation they are likely full. A baby who may need more will likely not immediately drop their arm.
The important thing to remember as a new parent is to keep yourself healthy by eating well and staying fit physically and mentally. This will keep you in the best form to care for your baby, and ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. If you have any concerns, remember your pharmacist is here to help!
Until next time, I’m Safin Bandali, and this has been another episode of ‘Ask the Pharmacist’.
I wish you good health.