Do You Baby Your Baby?

By Roberta Duyff, MS, RD, FAND
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There's a lot to know about feeding an infant and a toddler — and about ensuring a positive eating experience from day one. Check yourself out on these baby-feeding basics. Which infant-feeding practices do you follow (or have you followed) when feeding your baby — or perhaps when helping a new parent? For each item below, answer yes or no:
  1. Count the number of wet diapers (six or more every 24 hours) to make sure your breast- or formula-fed baby is getting enough to eat.
  2. Offer breast milk or formula, not cow milk, to your baby up to 12 months of age.
  3. If your baby is bottle-fed, choose an iron-fortified formula — unless your baby's doctor advises otherwise.
  4. Discard unused expressed breast milk or infant formula after a bottle feeding.
  5. Wait to start solid foods, as directed by your doctor — perhaps until 6 months if your baby is exclusively breast-fed.
  6. Always wash your hands before feeding your baby.
  7. Clean all baby-feeding equipment with hot, soapy water, and rinse well.
  8. Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle.
  9. Offer infant cereal that's iron fortified.
  10. Start with single foods — one new food at a time.
  11. Monitor your baby's reaction to a new food, in case of a reaction.
  12. Offer your baby enough to eat, rather than trying to restrict calories or fat.
  13. Check the temperature of food or bottles that are heated so they're evenly warmed, not hot!
  14. Try new foods several times, rather than giving up after one or two tries.
  15. Let your baby — not you — set the feeding pace.
  16. Remain patient as your baby learns to feed himself or herself.
  17. Offer smooth foods until your baby is ready for mashed or finely chopped foods.
  18. Always stay with your baby while he or she is eating.
  19. Discard unused food after a feeding.
  20. Make infant feeding a special time to nurture and enjoy your baby — these days don't last!

Now Score Yourself:
Give yourself — and your baby — a big hug if you said "yes" to all 20 items. If you said "no" to any item, keep checking the Kids Eat Right website for more information. Then practice what you learn. Your baby's health depends on it!

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