Babies: Nutritional guidelines for babies

Babies are growing machines. In one year they will triple their birth weight and increase their length by 50 percent. To do that they need to eat, and they need to eat a lot, and they need to eat often.

Besides growing physically, they are also developing socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Food plays a role in all these areas.

Your little baby starts out as a floppy, tiny being with no head control, and gets his nourishment from reflexive sucking and who, by age one, will have turned into a solid little person, crawling with speed and determination, eating selectively, probably from your plate, and deliberately using a precise pincer grasp to feed themselves food they bite, chew and swallow.

Starting out with breastmilk or formula in the early months, offered to baby when he requests, and served in a supportive, loving environment lays the foundation. Following this up with a progressive addition of solid foods that add increasing texture and consistency will give your baby the important nutrients he need to grow plus the developmental stimulation necessary for oral and motor development.

Nutrient Needs of Infants

Newborn to four months: At this age, the best and only food for your little one should be mother's milk, formula, or a combination of the two. Each baby should be allowed to determine for himself just how much and how often he needs to eat. Some babies will eat every two hours, day and night, others will go for longer stretches. At this age, it is best to feed your baby on demand. He is much too young to know how to manipulate. All he knows is that he's hungry. When you feed him, he feels secure and learns to trust you.

Average, normal daily intake of formula for babies this young can be anywhere from 16 to 32 ounces. You needn't worry much about what specific nutrients your baby needs when they are breastfed or fed formula.

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