Formula, Breastfeeding, and First Foods
Breast feeding is best. Take a look at the ingredient list on a can of formula and you will notice a list a mile long. This includes “partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil”. This is because natural fat would spoil if left on the shelf for months or years.
I prefer organic formula’s if you must use formula, but exclusive breast feeding is the best way to feed your newborn. How much should my baby eat? Enough to gain weight, and newborns should get back to birth weight by 10-14 days of age. Make plans to track your baby’s weight, with visits a few days after birth, then at 2 weeks, and again at 2 months. If breast feeding, the more you nurse the more you make and babies will eat more often if they need more, so on-demand feeding makes perfect sense. For moms who have ample milk supply, then a schedule for feeding will work also. If feeding in a bottle, the most your baby can take at a time is about one ounce per Kg of weight every 3-4 hours. A baby weighing 8 pounds is about 4 Kg, so could take up to 4 ounces every 3-4 hours. By the time your baby is 16-20 pounds, they will have a maximum intake of about 8 ounces at a time. Solids are typically being introduced at this point also, making it very rare that you would ever need to feed more than 6-8 ounces at a time.
Start solids around 4 months. There are actually fewer allergies for those who introduce foods earlier. 50 to 100 years ago, babies were being started on solids as early as 6 weeks of age. Go with organic fruits and vegetables. Avoid the rice cereal due to the high arsenic content and avoid the other grains, especially the gluten containing foods. The hygiene hypothesis has demonstrated that earlier exposure to pets or dust or hay results in fewer allergies. We used to say “delay introducing solids to avoid allergies”. Well that was absolutely the wrong advice and studies have now shown that for foods, just like for the environmental allergens, earlier introduction and exposure results in fewer allergies.
If you are struggling with breast feeding, and considering giving up, please consult a lactation specialist. The La Leche League, or your local hospital, can provide referrals to specialists in your area.