With new studies that link infant baby fat with childhood obesity, new parents might be intimidated as their new arrival starts to “chunk up.” But as a parent, your number one job is to help baby grow and these guidelines should help you get off to a successful start.
1. Know when your baby is full. According to John Worobey, Ph.D. at Rutgers University, a baby will tell you when they have had enough to eat. Signs include closing their eyes, spitting out the nipple or pulling away from their food source. If this happens, don’t insist that your baby continues to nurse.
2. Try not to use food as a soothing technique. Of course you have to feed your newborn often and on demand but regardless of a new baby’s age, there will be times of fussing between meals. The automatic response should not be to feed. Try other soothing techniques first such as offering a pacifier, rocking, singing, shushing or bundling. Offering food should be an option after you have exhausted this list.
3. Solids enhance breast milk or formula. During the first year, the primary source of your baby’s calories should come from breast milk or formula. Even though your baby is going to be introduced to solids around 6 months, it is to give babies the experience of eating food, experimenting with texture and “practice” eating.
4. Keep guidelines as a “mental check.” If you are tracking weight, your baby will have roughly doubled their birth weight at 4 months and tripled by 12 months. It’s worth peace of mind to talk with your pediatrician if your baby is ahead of these guidelines.