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Newborn Baby Diet, Foods


The first year of your baby’s life is the most crucial, since that is when maximum growth takes place. It is very important to provide the right diet and nutrition to the growing infant, since this will have an effect on physical and mental growth throughout life. The first three or four months of a baby’s life are even more crucial. During this period, breast milk is sufficient for a baby’s growth.

From the time of birth until three months, babies are considered as newborns.

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Babies tend to sleep for most part of the day during this time and occasionally wake up to eat or when they are wet. Growth and development occurs significantly and rapidly at this stage. The baby’s internal systems such as the digestive, skeletal and muscular systems are still delicate and in the process of maturation. Therefore a safe and clean newborn baby diet is imperative. Mothers are always concerned about whether they are feeding their children the right foods in the right amounts. This is more so in the case of newborn babies. You can discuss with your pediatrician and formulate a newborn diet chart which will give you a better idea about the amount of milk you need to feed your newborn. The feeding schedule will also be outlined by such a chart. The diet for newborn babies consists of only breast milk which is the perfect food for babies because it supplies them with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats. It does not produce any allergic reactions and in fact also contains certain enzymes which assist in the digestive process. There are also antibodies contained in breast milk which provide protection to the infant from illnesses and infections. Therefore the newborn dietary intake should comprise solely of breast milk. In cases where breast feeding is not possible, infant formula may be used. Water should not be given to newborns as they receive all the hydration they need from breast milk. One should also not feed a newborn fruit juice before the age of 6 months. Liquids must only be introduced after 6 months as before that they can hamper milk consumption and lead to nutritional problems. Newborn food intake takes place after every 2 to 3 hours. There are likely to be a total of 8 to 12 feedings in a day. In a couple of months, the feedings may reduce to 6 to 8 times a day. Mothers who feed their babies formula should feed them a slightly lesser quantity since formula takes more time to digest as compared to breast milk. Gradually babies adapt to a regular feeding schedule and will start consuming more milk during each feeding, thereby reducing the number of feedings. Apart from your newborn food needs, there may be a requirement for vitamin D supplements in some cases. This is because breast milk and formula do not supply a sufficient amount of vitamin D which is necessary for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. In case of severe vitamin D deficiencies, there is a risk of bone problems such as rickets. See also baby food diet

Studies suggest that breastfeeding mothers who consume certain foods such as peanuts may trigger an allergic reaction in their newborn babies. Other common irritants that result in newborn food allergies include chocolate, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat and eggs. A good way to monitor these allergies is to keep a food journal. Note down the type of food, amount, time when you consumed it and the time when you breastfed your baby. Usually these reactions are temporary and subside as the baby’s gastrointestinal system matures. Some foods can result in gas in breastfed babies. Such foods include vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts and legumes. Newborn foods that cause gas also include legumes, caffeine and spices. When feeding your newborn foods to avoid also include citrus fruits and corn. Some babies may be allergic to formula. This is due to the presence of cow’s milk protein in most formulas. Babies that suffer from cow’s milk allergies are also likely to suffer from soy milk allergies. Signs of an allergic reaction include rashes, vomiting and eczema on various parts of the skin. Allergic babies may also seem colicky after a feeding. In such cases, it is advisable to discuss with your pediatrician about switching to another type of formula. There are also certain precautions you need to take when bottle feeding your baby. Ensure that you follow the directions properly when preparing the formula. Discard any formula that has been kept out of the refrigerator for more than an hour or that is left behind in the bottle after a feeding. Prepared formula should not be stored for more than a day in the refrigerator. Formula or breast milk should not be warmed in a microwave oven as this does not ensure uniform warming. Mothers often worry that their babies are not eating enough. However instead of focusing on the amount, regularity or frequency of milk intake, look for certain signs between feedings such as 6 to 8 wet diapers in a day, steady weight gain, healthy skin tone and alertness. Regular check-ups will also ensure that your baby is in good health and is making good progress in growth and development.

Importance of mother’s milk:

  • Breast milk provides all the nutrients that your baby needs to grow. Breast milk changes in consistency and composition to adapt to a baby’s needs and growth. For example, the first milk that the newborn has from the mother is colostrum, which along with many antibodies, contains laxatives. This helps the newborn to purge the bowels of wastes.
  • Breast milk contains omega-3 fatty acids and balanced amounts of fats and calories, necessary for baby’s growth.
  • Breast milk is rich in hormones and digestive enzymes which help in baby’s well-being and development.
  • Breast milk contains antibodies, which helps babies to fight many infections and diseases even later in life. It has been observed that infants who are fed totally on mother’s milk in the first few months after birth, have lesser incidences of respiratory infections such as pneumonia, influenza or wheezing, or gastro-intestinal infections, constipation or diarrhea. In later life they have lesser incidences of asthma, allergy, juvenile diabetes, Crohn’s disease, heart disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Infants fed on mother’s milk have lesser chances of obesity in later life.
  • Breastfeeding encourages not only healthy teeth, ears and eyes, breast-fed babies are supposed to have higher intelligence.
Other reasons for mother’s milk:
  • A newborn baby’s digestion is not yet developed to digest other food or solid foods.
  • A newborn baby also does not have the physical development to eat solid foods from a spoon.
  • Feeding your newborn other foods, may lead to food allergies at this early stage
  • Introducing other foods too early may lead to over-feeding and unnecessary weight gain.
If formula feeding is needed: If for some reasons, you are unable to breast your baby, do not feel guilty. Speak to your doctor to help you select a formula which will come closest to providing:
  • The right consistency and composition.
  • The right nutritional balance (it may be fortified with extra iron, vitamins and other minerals).
  • Have a fat content which is not too high and is closest to mother’s milk.
  • Has a protein content which is closest to mother’s milk and easiest to digest.
  • You must also ensure that feeding bottles are properly sterilized to prevent diarrhea and other intestinal infections.
Submitted on January 16, 2014
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