As a new parent, the birth of your child presents many challenges. For one, after nights of peaceful and uninterrupted sleep, your little one may suddenly start waking up and crying in the middle of the night. This starts a new, difficult chapter for many parents—figuring out how to put their babies back to sleep.
However, most parents are not aware that nutrition can affect the amount and quality of sleep your baby might get. In fact, giving the right food choices for your infant is extremely important in his or her development and growth. This will eventually help your little one sleep through the night.
And while there’s no one-size-fits-all guide on feeding your baby, simply understanding what he or she is going through can greatly help you in making the appropriate food choices. In this infographic, Nurture Parenting breaks down each stage in your baby’s first year and shows which food choices to give or avoid.
An Age-by-Age Feeding Guide on Baby Food Choices
On the day your baby was born, his or her stomach is only as large as a marble. In order to seek nourishment, he or she may latch on your breast.
What to Feed
These two food choices are already filled with all the necessary nutrients your baby needs.
How Much Per Day
To aid in your baby’s development and growth, you may need to feed him or her about 7-9 times per day. Do keep in mind that there’s no fixed number of feedings required daily—it’s best to feed your little one on demand.
Foods to Avoid
Your baby’s digestive system is not physically developed enough to handle the following food choices.
Did You Know? Introducing solid foods early in your child’s birth may result in poor feeding experiences and increased weight during infancy and early childhood.
New babies under 6 weeks may feed 2-4 hourly especially during a growth spurt and overnight. It is not necessary to wake your baby to feed during the night and most babies need 1-2 night feeds at this age.
As your baby grows, he or she may need to take in more milk or formula. This is also the time when a predictable feeding pattern starts to show.
If your infant is still hungry after feeding, he or she may be experiencing a growth spurt. Follow such hunger cues and continue feeding your little one.
There is no need to introduce solid foods yet at this early age. However, if your baby can hold his or her head up or weighs at least 13 pounds (6 kilos), you may want to begin feeding your little one with soft foods.
What to Feed
By the time your baby turns 6 months old, his or her natural supply of iron and vitamins may have already been depleted. That’s why it’s best to introduce foods filled with these nutrients.
Semi-liquid, iron-fortified cereal e.g. porridge oats, quinoa flakes made with baby’s usual milk or full cream cows milk
Pureed fruit (apples, bananas, and peaches)
Pureed vegetables (squash, sweet potatoes)
How Much Per Day
Mix a teaspoon of cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of breastmilk or formula. Its consistency should be the texture of custard or yoghurt.
For pureed food, start with a teaspoon then slowly increase its amount to a tablespoon.
Foods to Avoid
Large chunks of food
Chilli and spices
Did You Know? Citrus fruits can irritate a baby’s stomach and cause severe rashes. This ultimately affects his or her sleep.
Introduce one new food at a time and give your infant time (at least 3-5 days) to adjust. This would help you figure out what specific foods cause allergic reactions.
When preparing homemade baby foods, avoid adding sugar or salt as it may lead to obesity later in life and kidney problems.
For pureed fruits and vegetables, make sure to remove all seeds or piths to avoid choking.
Once your baby turns 6 months old, he or she may begin teething. This is the perfect time to introduce solid foods.
What to Feed
Iron-fortified cereal (barley, oats)
Pureed or strained fruit (apples, avocados, bananas, peaches, and pears)
Pureed or strained vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes)
Combo foods (beans and broccoli, lasagna, casseroles)
How Much Per Day
Feed 1 to 1 ½ cup each of fruits and vegetables. Giving 4-5 tablespoons of protein-rich foods is necessary for your little one’s growth and development. Increase your baby’s intake of dairy to at least ½ cup a day.
Foods to Avoid
Candies and chocolate
Did You Know? Chocolate contains a significant amount of caffeine. As such, avoid feeding it to your baby in order to ensure proper sleep.
Avoid feeding your little one with canned foods. These contain high levels of salt and sugar that are harmful to his or her health.
Do not force your child to eat all the food in his or her plate. It may lead to disturbances in appetite and result them to become pickier as they get older.
Help your baby give up the bottle by the time he or she turns 1 year old.
Your baby’s food choices not only affect the rate of his or her development, but also impact his or her sleeping habits. That is why it’s important to provide your little one with the appropriate food choices to ensure both proper growth and sleep.
Have you already fed your baby with these food choices, but he or she is still not sleeping peacefully at night? You may want to consult Nurture Parenting, the baby sleep experts in Sydney, Australia. For over 16 years, we have helped many families solve their problems through our Nurture Sleep Program. Through 7 easy lessons, we can take your baby from sleepless to slumber. Contact us today to get started!
Found this infographic helpful? Check our blog for more informative articles about baby sleep.
Preventing Allergies in Infants with a Family History
What to Feed Your Allergic Baby
Babies can develop food intolerance or food allergy especially if there is a family history of atopic disease e,g. asthma, eczema, auto-immune disease and food intolerance or allergy. Breastfed infants can develop allergy due to food proteins the mother eats passing through her body to her breast milk. Formula-fed infants can show allergy symptoms due to not tolerating the food proteins in infant formula.
Symptoms of infant food intolerance can vary and may include colic, reflux or more projectile vomiting and sleep and settling problems.
Breast milk provides optimal nutrition for a baby. Even babies with food allergies can benefit from breast milk. But, the mother may need some dietary restrictions, also known as an “elimination diet.” Many women can continue to breastfeed if they remove an allergen from their diet e.g. dairy or eggs.
Allergies and food reactions in babies and children are common and may be associated with a variety of foods including adapted cow’s milk infant formula. Parents may consider using special infant formulas for preventing or treating allergic disorders.
This includes amino acid-based formula, hydrolysed formula, soy formula and milk from other animal species e.g. goats. However, the evidence is mixed and the routine use of special formulas for preventing allergy is not recommended. An Australian expert panel has made recommendations on the use of soy, extensively hydrolysed and amino acid formulas for treating cow’s milk protein allergy.
Hydrolysed infant formula, which is cow’s milk-based formula, processed to break down the proteins into smaller particles, may modify the development of the allergic disease.
Infants with a strong history of atopy, there is limited evidence hydrolysed formula, in comparison with cow’s milk formula, is helpful in reducing infant and childhood allergy. Most studies on the use of hydrolysed formulas have involved infants at high risk of atopy. Rather than the general population and benefits have been modest.
Additional randomised studies are needed among infants from families with low risk of atopy. There is no evidence partially hydrolysed infant formula prevents allergic disease when used for supplementary feeds in hospitals. And widespread use for this purpose may undermine breastfeeding.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RAcP) recommends the use of extensively hydrolysed infant formula in infants with proven cow’s milk allergy or cow’s milk protein intolerance who are not breastfed.
Despite what the research has uncovered anecdotally I have helped babies with cows milk protein intolerance or eczema become amazingly settled on a partially hydrolysed formula. Compared to a predominantly cows milk-based formula.
Examples of partially hydrolysed formulae include Aptamil Allerpro Syneo and NAN HA Gold. Extensively hydrolysed formulas include Neocate, Nutramigen, Pepti-Junior and Alimentum.
In the past soy formula was the preferred option. However, soy formula has not been shown to be effective in preventing the development of atopy in ‘at-risk’ children. And may actually worsen atopic illness with prolonged use. Examples of soy formulas include Isomil, Prosobee and Nestle Good Start Soy.
Consuming high levels of soy can have potential risks for babies. For example, the phytoestrogen compounds in soy formula might affect babies’ growing neuroendocrine systems and immune systems. But there’s no compelling research to say what effects these have on babies.
Soy-based formulas don’t prevent or reduce the risk of your child developing allergies.
A Cochrane review concluded that feeding with soy formula should not be recommended for preventing atopy in infants at high risk of developing an allergy.
Further research may be warranted to determine the role of soy formulas for preventing allergy or food intolerance in infants who are unable to be breastfed, who have a strong family history of allergy or cow’s milk protein intolerance.
The RAcP policy for the use of soy formula in infants recommends:
infants under 12 months who are not breastfed should be fed infant formula, not a soy drink or dairy-based milk marketed for older children or adult consumption
soy-based infant formula should not be used for preterm infants
the possible interaction of soy-based formula with thyroxin replacement therapy should be considered for children with thyroid disorders.
A number of concerns have been raised about soy-based infant formulas, on the basis of possible physiological effects of isoflavone compounds on the infant’s developing neuroendocrine system. There is no clear clinical or scientific evidence to support the position that these compounds are harmful, although no long-term studies have conclusively documented the product’s safety in infants. It is appropriate to use soy infant formula in the management of galactosaemia. Its use may also be appropriate for infants who cannot consume dairy-based products for cultural or religious reasons.
Goat’s milk formula
Compared to cow’s milk formulas, there have been fewer studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of goat’s milk formulas. Goat’s milk is not considered to have any role in preventing or treating allergic disease. many infants who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to goat’s milk and soy drinks. The use of goat’s milk formula is not recommended.
Amino acid-based formula
Amino acid-based or elemental formula is “built” from component nutrients including individual amino acids. Its use in preventing atopic disease has not been studied. Examples of amino acid-based formulas are Neocate and Elecare.
Infant formulas with probiotics or prebiotics
The evidence on probiotics or prebiotics in infant formula to prevent atopic disease varies. two Cochrane reviews and a review by the European society for Paediatric gastroenterology, Hepatology and nutrition (esPgHAn) committee on nutrition concluded there was insufficient evidence to recommend their use.
Maternal dietary restriction
There is no evidence that avoiding any particular foods or food allergens during pregnancy, lactation or infancy provides any benefit in preventing allergy and this is no longer recommended.
However, once your baby has been diagnosed with cows milk protein intolerance or allergy An elimination diet is recommended to remove all dairy and usually soy from the mum’s diet.
Table 8.6: Minimising the risk of allergy in infants with a family history
• Do not smoke during pregnancy and provide a smoke-free environment for your child after birth
• Dietary elimination of potential allergens during pregnancy is not recommended for preventing childhood allergy
• If breastfeeding is discontinued for any reason, there is no advantage in using special formulas, except under medical supervision
• Soy-based formulas do not prevent or reduce the risk of developing allergies and are not a suitable alternative to cow’s milk-based formulas
soy or goat’s milk-based formulas are not suitable alternatives for infants with allergies to cow’s milk-based formulas unless used under medical supervision.
Avoiding any particular foods or food allergens during pregnancy, lactation or infancy does not prevent allergy development.
Advice for parents
Formulas for managing other infant conditions
A number of infant formulas marketed in Australia claim that they are suited for managing minor conditions and symptoms. An extensive literature review failed to find any evidence of their efficacy.
Special infant formulas for managing metabolic, renal, hepatic, immunological and malabsorptive conditions are available (standard 2.9.1 of the FsAnZ code). Inborn errors of metabolism are outside of the scope of these guidelines.
Your 12-month-old baby is now officially a little toddler. And as such, they are moving on developmentally at a rapid pace of knots. As soon as they hit their 12 month/1-year-old milestone their nutrition needs to change as well. Whilst milk and dairy are still important food becomes even more so. Their brains are building at such a fast pace and their nerve fibres are undergoing massive myelination. Approximately 90% of their brains are formed by the age of 3 years. The brain is made of at and therefore needs a high good fat diet in order to grow. Their energy needs are higher than an adult male and they need double the carbohydrates of an adult to avoid hangry – aka hungry and angry meltdowns.
Having too much milk affects food intake and especially iron levels.
At 12 months their dairy intake reduces to 1.5-2 servings a day. A serving is 200 MLS Full Cream Milk, 40g or a matchbox size of cheese or 1 small tub of full-fat Greek yoghurt.
Transitioning to Full Cream Cows Milk at 12 months
Hopefully, by now, your baby has sampled some full cream cows milk in cooking or on their cereal. It is important to transition gradually especially if there has been a history of cows milk protein allergy or asthma, eczema or hayfever in the immediate family – parents or siblings.
At 12 months move to all milk feeds in a cup.
Starting a gradual titration – every 2-3 days – 2/3 normal milk and 1/3 full cream milk. Then half and half for 2-3 days followed by 1/3 normal milk and 2/3 full cream milk. Then if there have been no food reactions to the cows’ milk you can switch completely. By food reactions, I’m meaning skin rashes such as eczema, mucousy or bloody poo or severe constipation. These are all typical cows milk protein reactions.
I met mum Kellie through a Skype consultation as she lives up in North Queensland. She’s done amazingly with her little boy Reece who is baby number three. Kellie was going away on a holiday but she was really worried about Reece and just how she’s going to manage travelling with homemade baby food. And I know this is a really common problem so I answered her question during one of my weekly Facebook Live Q&A broadcasts.
She said, “Unfortunately bubba Reece will still require purees when we go away in a month, and he will be too established with his diet to skip proteins etc in meals. I’ve never travelled with a baby this age before and there will be a couple of days he’s out all day long. Veg and fruit aren’t a problem, but how do I safely take along animal proteins like chicken his favourite, and cheese for example when I won’t have microwaves or other appliances around to reheat? Is there a safe substitute I should consider? Maybe chia puddings or red lentil dishes?”
I agree with Kellie because if you don’t give protein in meals, then babies are not going to sleep. And fat is also extremely important. If your brain isn’t getting fat then it’s not going to grow well. The balance of nutrition is so important. I talk more about this in my BLOG: Fixing your baby’s sleep problem with diet
Keeping baby food safe while travelling
When you go abroad there might not be ways to keep sort of meat safe and other foods safe. Heat obviously will grow bacteria so you can’t do things like chicken and rice. You’ve got to be really really careful. You’ll need to consider foods that aren’t going to cause an issue in a hot climate.
So, I would look at taking things like avocado or chia puddings made with coconut cream. We need to think about the importance of good-fats in the baby’s diet.
I would be taking Weetbix out with you as well. Because that’s really high in Tryptophan, in lower-glycemic index carbohydrate, it’s high in iron and is a great filler.
Consider the all the nut butter too – peanut butter, almond butter, macadamia nut butter.
If the place where you’re staying at does scrambled eggs these are ok. They need to fully cooked however and you need to have given eggs to bub to check for allergy at least 3 days before you go. If you’re cooking the eggs yourself you can increase fat by adding butter into it as well.
You can even get little blender things that are portable that you can take with you as well. So there are many ways that you can make that food into a puree and give good nutrition as well.
Lentils, chia puddings or quinoa flakes are a great idea as well. With quinoa flakes, you’ve got protein in there and you’ve got low GI carbs. So I’d be looking at those sort of things. I’ve blogged on the advantages of quinoa bubs before at BLOG: Quinoa and Baby Food Purees
Something that many of us grew up with and I know a lot of people don’t like anymore, but that you could take are tinned sardines that are full of protein. Tinned salmon, also full of protein. And you can just mash these up with a fork into a puree. If you’re looking at things in tins then the best way to go is those that are in either spring water or in olive oil.
Baked beans and cannellini beans. I know some have sugar and salt but we’re talking that you’re going away for only maybe 1 to 2 weeks.
I would take some ready prepared sachets out with you as well. Now as people know I have a love/hate relationship with sachets and call them kitchen cupboard drugs because many of them are full of things like fruit juice and fruit and vegetable puree, but not much substance. So when you look at the actual percentage of protein or carbs it’s actually really low. So a lot of them only have maybe 5 or 7 per cent protein, and same with carbohydrates. Now how is that baby going to sleep off that? They’re not!
Here are some blogs I’ve written on the reasons why you need to take care of food pouches …
Hopefully, you’ll have a fridge in your hotel room. If not, email or call ahead and see if the hotel will store some food for you.
It’s important to test any new foods before you go to make sure there isn’t a food reaction while you’re away, because that’s the last thing you want. Be aware that it takes about 2 or 3 days to for a food reaction to show itself.
A word on allergies. There’s interesting research out there as well as to why you should be giving nut butter before 6 months. If you give peanut butter and other nut butter before 6 months, you can decrease the instance of nut allergy by 80 per cent. Which is massive! The same applies to a cooked egg. So if you give cooked egg before 6 months, you can decrease egg allergy by 80 per cent. Baby’s gut before 6 months is more porous, so we need to think about these things.
Today’s blog is especially for Tyler, who is feeling incredibly anxious that her baby has gone 8 hours and is showing no signs of being hungry or wanting a breastfeed.
This is what she sent me:
Hello Karen Faulkner! Carter is 6.5 months and not interested at all in milk feeds during the day! He will go 8 hours and isn’t “catching up” during the night either. I’m a bit worried because he’s not a great eater (only does finger foods refuses to be spoon-fed so I’m unsure how much he’s actually eating) I can’t see any teeth and he seems unbothered.. not sooky at all. Could he be self-weaning 😱
These are more common than you’d think in the older baby and can cause a lot of worry to a mum.
It can occur for one of many reasons including:
Changed your deodorant, soap, shower gel or perfume
You have been under stress
Your baby or toddler has an illness or injury that makes breastfeeding uncomfortable eg snuffly or blocked nose caused by a cold, an ear infection, thrush.
Your baby has sore gums from teething
You changed your feeding patterns
You reacted strongly when your baby bit your nipple and they got a fright. You are newly pregnant and your supply may have reduced
You are ovulating and your supply may have temporarily reduced
You have been expressing/pumping less when away from your baby
You have been sick or taking medication which can have an impact on the letdown
You have got your menstrual period and it changes the taste of the milk temporarily
What can you do to help this?
In most cases, nursing strikes are temporary and will resolve spontaneously. In the short term, it’s important to keep your supply going till they get back on the breast. Try not to stress about it as your baby will pick up on your stress levels
Developmental leaps in the baby, those pesky wonder weeks can interrupt the norm including feeding
Try a dream feed
Sometimes, a baby does not actually refuse but is very fussy and difficult to feed
Change your feeding positions
Nurse when in motion, using a sling or carrier to do this can be helpful
Give the baby extra attention and skin to skin contact
Lay on the bed with your baby with no bra or top on so if your baby wants a nurse he or she can.
Feeding in a darkened quiet room with no distractions
Stimulate your letdown and get your milk flowing so your baby gets an instant reward
Take a warm bath together with lots of skin to skin and no pressure to nurse/breastfeed
Sleep near baby giving baby easy access to the breast if they feel like nursing/feeding
Spend time around other nursing babies, peer pressure may help
Express as you feel necessary to keep your supply going and empty your breasts
Offer your baby plenty of fluids or expressed milk in a cup or a bottle as they need
it is so important to remain calm and patient, handling your baby gently. If you are both feeling anxious and stressed, try taking deep breathes similar to that which you may have used during labour or when meditating. The deep breathing helps slow your own breathing and make it more regular which can help calm everyone, concentrate on staying relaxed, use soothing music, rock your baby gently or carry him whilst walking. This will help your milk to flow so your baby will get milk once he latches.
And like everything else things will settle back down, its usually just a little blip.
Observe wet nappies and weight gain and if you’re needing a second opinion a trip to the Child & Family Health Nurse or GP doesn’t do any harm. Plot your baby’s measurements on their centile chart and make sure they are gaining at the right rate.
Making your own baby porridge is super easy and it’s a much cheaper way to feed a baby than the packaged variety.
Baby porridge is a favourite food parents are choosing to feed their baby. Soft and creamy with a very mild flavour it’s a great first food. Many baby food companies are manufacturing pre-packaged baby porridge oats. However with just a food processor you can make your own finely milled baby oats for a fraction of the price. Most baby porridge oats you can buy in the shops are iron enriched. Whilst this can be useful past 6 months of age it can lead to constipation in some babies.
Store Cupboard Staple
Porridge is one of those useful cupboard standby items and it can be added to both savoury as well as sweet purees. It’s low glycemic and a healthy breakfast option.
Oats are high in fibre, calcium, protein and even some B vitamins. Steel cut oats are slightly healthier and more nutritious than rolled, quick cook or instant oats. Steel cut oats retain the most nutrients because they are not highly processed. However they take approximately 10-20 minutes longer to cook than instant oats. Steel cut oats are also referred to as pinhead oatmeal in the UK. Read more at https://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/oatmealbabyfoodrecipes.htm#ajGpSoQR6DlUeBsJ.99
Puree some pear or blueberries and you’re onto a winner your little one will love.
Pureed strawberries with vanilla bean
Poached and pureed nectarines or peaches – poach with star anise and or cinnamon for added flavour
Pureed apple – use a red apple such as Pink Lady or Royal Gala as these are sweeter compared to a green Granny Smith
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Nurture Parenting's Karen Faulkner is a baby sleep and toddler expert who brings calm and sleep into families and gives parents their confidence back.
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