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Feeding & Nutrition

Not all babies are the same, so it should come as no surprise that whatever your little one finds yummy may differ from other newborns. Huggies answers your questions and provides some food for thought when it comes to feeding your baby.


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First flavors can last a lifetime

Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia report that feeding experiences during the first seven months of life may contribute to food likes and dislikes.

"This research may help us to understand early factors involved in human food preferences and diet choice, an area with many important health implications. We can explore these early influences systematically by studying infants who are breastfeeding, as well as babies whose parents have decided to formula-feed," explains study lead author Julie Mennella, PhD.

As part of a research program aimed at understanding the underlying basis for individual food differences, the Monell researchers compared flavor preferences of bottle-fed infants raised on two different types of commercially available infant formula. One was a standard milk-based formula.

The second formula is called a protein hydrolysate because the proteins are "pre-digested" to help babies absorb them more easily. The two formulas are similar nutritionally but differ markedly with regard to flavor: Milk-based formulas are described as bland and cereal-like, while hydrolysates taste exceedingly unpleasant to most adults — bitter and sour with a horrible aftertaste.

In the study, reported in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics, 53 babies were fed one of the two infant formulas for seven months. Starting at about two weeks of age, one group was fed only the standard formula while a second group received only the hydrolysate formula. Two additional groups combined three months of hydrolysate feeding, introduced at different times, with four months of standard formula.

Because infants accept hydrolysate formulas readily during the first four months of life, all babies were content regardless of the formula they were fed.

At the end of the exposure period, all infants were given the chance to feed with both types of formula. The babies' behavior and the amount they fed depended on which formula they had been fed during the previous seven months. Seven-month-old babies who had never been fed the hydrolysate formula strongly rejected it. In contrast, infants accustomed to the formula appeared relaxed and happy while feeding, and drank more of the hydrolysate formula.

Mennella observes, "It is often difficult for parents to feed these formulas to their babies because they think it tastes bad. These findings reveal if the baby feeds this formula by three months of age, the baby learns to like its taste."

These early influences persist to shape flavor preferences during childhood — and perhaps longer. In earlier studies from Mennella's laboratory, four- to five-year-old children fed hydrolysates during infancy were more accepting of sour taste and aroma — sensory qualities associated with these formulas — than children fed other formulas.

The current findings complement Mennella and co-author Beauchamp's long-term research program on how breastfeeding infants learn about flavors. Because breast milk transmits flavors of mothers' diets to nursing babies, breast fed babies are exposed to flavor experiences during the nursing period. The Monell researchers suggest that this natural early flavor exposure serves to establish flavors of the mother's diet — which will subsequently be fed to the growing child — as acceptable and preferred.

Mennella comments on some of the implications, "Because we know that flavor preferences established early in life track into later childhood, eating habits in the growing child may begin to be established long before the introduction of solid food."


Table Manners for Toddlers (Yes, It's Possible!)

With all the food your child throws, mushes, and drops, feeding her can feel like a full-contact sport. These strategies will make mealtime less messy and "stress-y".

Ack! My child keeps dropping her spoon, then laughing as I pick it up

You might find this completely annoying, but to your toddler, it’s the best game in the world, saysRobin Goldstein, Ph.D., professor of child development at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and author of The New Baby Answer Book. "She’s just delighted that you’re engaging with her. Play along once or twice, then say, "Ooh, that was fun, but now let’s play a different game!" Then pretend to be a "hungry bear," eat a bite of food, and say, "Can you show Mommy how a hungry bear eats?"

Ack! My child smears food everywhere

Your child is using all of her senses—especially touch—to figure out the world around her, so it’s fine to let her be a Picasso with her peas once in a while (especially if you plan to put her straight in the tub after dinner). If she’s putting more food in her hair than in her mouth, though, it’s probably a sign that she’s not hungry or she’s bored, says Goldstein. Take her out of the high chair and let her crawl around or play with toys for a few minutes; then put her back and see if she wants any more food by placing just a tiny amount of food on the tray, like a couple of cubes of cheese or a spoonful of pasta.

Ack! My child likes to throw her food

When your baby flings pureed squash at the wall, keep your cool, but give a clear message that the behavior is inappropriate, says Goldstein. Say firmly, "No! You can throw a ball, but we do not throw food." Then remove her from the high chair for five or ten minutes to play with toys (and get her energy out) and try again. Also consider placing a plastic splat mat under the high chair to make clean up easier.

Ack! My child turns up her nose at new foods

Stick with tried-and-true favorites—then place just a bite or two of a new food on the tray every day until she’s ready to go for it. Remember: It can take up to ten tries before a child accepts a new food.


The Weird Things Toddlers Eat

And you thought you had strange cravings when you were pregnant? Check out the out-there things toddlers love to eat, as revealed by their moms on the HUGGIES Facebook community.

"My son once used orange sherbet for dipping his cheese puffs in."—Bethany F.

"My kid’s fave is peanut butter and pickles."—Cindy F.

"My daughter will dip anything in mustard and ketchup. I think raisins dipped in ketchup is the weirdest combo I’ve seen."—Gretta S.

"My son likes ranch dressing on his pancakes."—Bethany K.

"Peanut butter and mayo—my daughter loves it."—Crystle C.

"Pizza and chocolate pudding."—Jennifer C.

"My baby likes lentil soup with cookies. Not crackers, cookies."—Diana M.

"Peanut butter and jelly with a slice of cheese. Totally gross to me, but he loves it. Could be worse, right?"—Danielle. W.

"Strawberries and ketchup. Gag."—Renee H.

"My 2-year-old likes orange juice in his Rice Krispies."—Sheryl M.

"Spaghetti with mustard, not sauce."—Jill. W.

"Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with onion dip to dip it in. YUCK!"—Cindy L.


See what parents are talking about on the HUGGIES Facebook community.


Starting Solids: When Is the Right Time?

By Jay L. Hoecker, M.D., Mayo Clinic

By ages 4 months to 6 months, most babies are ready to begin eating solid foods as a complement to breast-feeding or formula-feeding.

What's so magic about ages 4 months to 6 months? It's around this time that babies typically stop using their tongues to push food out of their mouths and begin to develop the coordination to move solid food from the front of the mouth to the back for swallowing.

Keep in mind that waiting until age 6 months before introducing solid foods to babies who are exclusively breast-fed can help ensure that they get the full health benefits of breast-feeding.

Starting solids too early - before age 4 months - might:

  • Pose a risk of aspiration - sucking food into the airway
  • Cause a baby to get too much or not enough calories or nutrients
  • Increase a baby's risk of obesity

Also, starting solids before age 4 months hasn't been shown to help babies sleep better at night.

Starting solids too late - after age 6 months - poses another set of issues. Waiting too long might:

  • Slow a baby's growth
  • Cause iron deficiency in breast-fed babies
  • Delay oral motor function
  • Cause an aversion to solid foods

Postponing solids - including highly allergenic foods - past 4 to 6 months of age also hasn't been shown to prevent asthma, hay fever, eczema or food allergies.

In addition to age, look for other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods. Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position? Can your baby sit with support? If you answer yes to these questions and you have the OK from your baby's doctor, you can begin supplementing your baby's liquid diet.

Image: Getty Images


Toddler Lunch Ideas

Like adults, kids just wanna have fun when it comes to food. Give them a good (and healthy!) mealtime with these ideas from New York City-based nutritionist Keri Glassman.

Alphabet grilled cheese: Make grilled cheese with whole-wheat bread; then use a cookie cutter to transform your sandwich into a heart, star, or the first letter of your child’s name.

Creative roll-ups: Wrap pieces of cheese around carrot sticks or pieces of turkey around pretzel rods for fun twists on the same-old, same-old lunch. Bonus: This is one "recipe" kids can do themselves!

Ants on a log: Fill stalks of celery with peanut butter and sprinkle with raisins or dried cranberries for a fiber- and protein-rich snack.

Smiley burgers: Make hamburgers more appealing (and nutritious) by topping them with pepper slices as a mouth and peas for eyes. Serve the top bun on the side so kids can enjoy your artwork before taking a bite.

Mock sushi: Layer a whole-wheat tortilla with turkey, cheese, lettuce, and peppers. Then roll up the tortilla, cut it crosswise into sushi-style pieces, and see how cool it looks.

Baked potato bar: Give your child a cooled half-baked potato, and spread out toppings to pile on including plain yogurt or sour cream, chopped tomatoes, broccoli, and shredded cheese.


Two moms-to-be, two appetites for baby talk, one friendship gone awry

By David Eddie, The Globe and Mail


A close friend and I got pregnant at the exact same time. In the ensuing months, she tended to dominate our conversations with all that she had read and learned about babies and giving advice about child-rearing choices. Not only was it information overload but I wanted to figure things out for myself and get advice from people I selected (my mother, friends and family). When she found out that I had said “new moms are annoying,” (I didn't think this was offensive since I was also a new mom) our conversations became combative. As we could both feel the tension, we e-mailed each other. I apologized but said I was just overwhelmed and asked if we could be friends like before without so much baby talk. She spewed back an e-mail saying maybe we can be friends when our kids are 18 and asked that I not e-mail her again. Perhaps we aren't meant to be pals but here is the issue: We are in the same group of friends. Our husbands are close as are our mutual friends. No one is picking any sides – they see it as an overblown mommy war. I thought I had put it behind me but now she has accused some of our friends of taking sides. Now, they are afraid of offending her if she finds out they're spending time with me. What could I have done differently?


Mom-fight! I'm not getting in the middle of one of those! I could lose an eye! (I kid – but I want to say this: In nature, the only thing scarier than an adult bear loping towards you is a baby bear gambolling in your direction. Happened to me once. I was frightened out of my boots! I knew mom wouldn't be far away, and she'd be coming to all kinds of conclusions about me being in the vicinity of her cub.

I got in the car and blasted out of there.)

On to your problem. I agree with you: New moms can be annoying – new dads, too – especially if they instantly turn into “sancti-mommies” and “sanctidaddies,” getting all prescriptive about other people's “parenting choices,” saying stuff like “We don't do pop” (actual quote from a sancti-mommy friend of a friend) when you offer them a soft drink and so forth.

Even if they're not pontificating about parenthood, I do think it's possible even in the most genial way to speak too much about your baby, and all the talk of strollers and which organic baby goo is best and what it looks like when it shows up in your baby's diaper can get tired fast.

Infuriating, even. I remember a friend of mine went away for a weekend with some new moms (and dads, I think) and by the end wanted to rip off his head and throw it out the window.

But here's the thing. You have to have show compassion, empathy and patience when it comes to people with fresh-minted offspring. People who have new babies, like people in the midst of renovations, become so consumed by the project at hand they can't think about anything else, thus can't talk about anything else.

(Me, I never talk about any renovations I might have under way, or my kids, unless I have something really witty and pithy to say – but not everyone has my discipline.)

I think you should just grin and bear it, for now. I mean, you're not having much success telling her to talk less about her baby. You're just ruffling her feathers. Is it such a hardship to smile and nod and act interested?

(Oooh, idea: get a pair of Google glasses, check your e-mails while she's talking.)

The other thing – and I only say this because of the way you framed your question ("What could I have done differently?") and because I've run afoul of this myself so many times – is: It's best, I've found, not to attempt to resolve arguments or convey anger or hurt via e-mail.

I don't know why. Maybe Marshall McLuhan could have explained it. But something about the medium seems to encourage flare-ups, distortion, posturing and friendship termination.

So if this is a friendship you want to hang on to, why not reach out to her in a friendly way, try to bury the hatchet. Face to face is best, ideally over a glass of chardonnay (now that you two can drink again!), and in a spirit of mutual empathy.

Life is (ideally) long, and, let's hope, so will your friendship be.

What's a couple of years spent smiling and nodding and listening to your friend talk about the interesting configuration she found in little junior's diaper the other day? It'll pass, and your patience will pay off in the end.

What am I supposed to do now?

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.


When Baby Won't Eat

By:Melanie Edwards

At every stage of a baby’s life, parents worry they’re not eating enough. Whether breastfed or bottle-fed, you often wonder if baby is drinking enough milk. When they refuse the bottle or refuse to nurse , you instantly think something may be up. Though you probably attribute it to a lack of hunger, if it happens more than once, you definitely worry.

The same can be said once babies start eating solids. If baby doesn’t finish his baby food, you again wonder why he won’t eat. As toddlers, it’s even worse. Toddlers are so busy running, playing, and generally exploring the world, that they often refuse food or eat little meals at a time. I’ve learned it’s not so much that they’re not hungry, but that they just generally get distracted.

I can tell you it doesn’t get any better as your children grow older. I still worry about my almost-seven-year-old daughter if she doesn’t eat too much. But, I also keep in mind (with both her and her baby brother) that babies know if they’re not hungry. They may not be able to tell you, but they know if they need to eat or if they’re too full.

So, as I offer food to my toddler, I keep an open mind and remember that if he refuses, he’ll probably make up for it later. Here’s how I keep myself from going crazy about him not eating:

  • I offer him food, but don’t stress if he won’t eat it right away.
  • I wait a while then offer him the food again.
  • I try to get him to sit and keep his attention on the food.
  • If he eats, but gets up after a few bites, I try to get him to sit back down. But, if he still refuses, I let it go.
  • I make sure he gets enough liquids in-between meals. If he’s hydrated, I at least feel better about him not eating very well – even if he doesn’t eat well for an entire day.
  • I give him smaller meals and snacks, correlating with the shorter attention spans he has these days.
  • I remember he’ll probably eat better the next day.


Feeding your newborn: Tips for New Parents

Feeding a newborn is a round-the-clock commitment. It's also an opportunity to begin forming a bond with the newest member of your family. Consider these tips for feeding a newborn.

1. Stick with breast milk or formula

Breast milk is the ideal food for babies — with rare exceptions. If breast-feeding isn't possible, use infant formula. Healthy newborns don't need water, juice or other fluids.

2. Feed your newborn on demand

Most newborns need eight to 12 feedings a day — about one feeding every two to three hours. Look for early signs of hunger, such as stirring and stretching, sucking motions and lip movements. Fussing and crying are later cues. The sooner you begin each feeding, the less likely you'll need to soothe a frantic baby. When your baby stops sucking, closes his or her mouth, or turns away from the nipple or bottle, he or she might be full — or simply taking a break. Try burping your baby or waiting a minute before offering your breast or the bottle again. As your baby gets older, he or she will take in more milk in less time at each feeding.

3. Consider vitamin D supplements

Ask your baby's doctor about vitamin D supplements for the baby, especially if you're breast-feeding. Breast milk might not provide enough vitamin D, which helps your baby absorb calcium and phosphorus — nutrients necessary for strong bones.

4. Expect variations in your newborn's eating patterns

Your newborn won't necessarily eat the same amount every day. During growth spurts — often at two to three weeks after birth and again at six weeks after birth — your newborn might take more at each feeding or want to be fed more often. Respond to early signs of hunger, rather than keeping a strict eye on the clock.

5. Trust your instincts — and your newborn's

You might worry that your newborn isn't eating enough, but babies usually know just how much they need. Don't focus on how much, how often or how regularly your newborn eats. Instead, look for:

  1. Steady weight gain
  2. Contentment between feedings
  3. By the fifth day after birth, at least six wet diapers and three or more bowel movements a day

Contact the doctor if your newborn isn't gaining weight, wets fewer than six diapers a day or shows little interest in feedings.

6. Consider each feeding a time to bond with your newborn

Hold your newborn close during each feeding. Look him or her in the eye. Speak with a gentle voice. Use each feeding as an opportunity to build your newborn's sense of security, trust and comfort.

7. Know when to ask for help

If you're having trouble breast-feeding, ask a lactation consultant or your baby's doctor for help — especially if every feeding is painful or your baby isn't gaining weight. If you haven't worked with a lactation consultant, ask your baby's doctor for a referral or check with the obstetrics department at a local hospital.

©1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of Use.

This article was from Mayo Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.



Protecting Our Carpet from a Messy Eating Baby

By: Melanie Edwards

When babies begin to self-feed, whether with finger foods or learning to eat with a spoon, it can be a very messy time! Babies drop their spoons (constantly) or purposely throw them down. Babies miss their mouth and accidentally get food all over themselves, the chair, and the floor. It’s natural, of course; learning to eat on your own can be tough! It’s also tough on our floors and particularly difficult when you have carpet. As parents, how can we let our babies go through this phase of learning to self-feed, and yet keep our floors clean?

Our dining area is carpeted. Even worse, it’s that cream-color carpet. I have nightmares about baby boy eating spaghetti on his own. But, I realize that I have to let him try because otherwise he’ll never learn to eat by himself. This means I have to let him try all kinds of food, not just finger foods.

We began with him trying to eat simple finger foods that wouldn’t make too much of a mess: cheese, crackers, cut-up chicken, and other foods that he could easily pick up with his fingers or a fork. The problem was that whenever we fed him rice, spaghetti, soup, or other more messy foods, he also wanted to dig into the bowl.

Realizing that we couldn’t avoid the issue much longer and that it was good and necessary for him to try to feed himself the messier foods, we had to figure something out. My husband found a no-longer-in-use plastic office floor mat at his job that they let him bring home. We put the floor mat underneath one of our dining chairs and that is our baby boy’s designated chair. The floor mat covers a wide area, which is perfect.

Baby boy can now eat finger foods or with a spoon without us having to worry so much. When food now falls on the floor, we simply wipe it up! Our carpet is clean and baby boy is happy feeling more like a big boy eating by himself.


Preparing to Breastfeed: What You Should Know

By Christopher McNamara, FW Media

Whether you're expecting a baby or have recently welcomed your little one, you've most likely given much thought to the topic of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides your child with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development, but should you choose to partake, there are a few things you should know.

When your milk comes in-two to four days after birth-and replaces the colostrum, you will know it. Your normally squishy breasts will get bigger than you ever imagined possible and may seem as hard as rocks. For some women, this transition from colostrum to milk can be rough, but at least it doesn't last long (typically just a day). You may feel like you are going from a size C to a size ZZ. Fetch your baby and start nursing because the longer you wait, the more your breasts will hurt. If your breasts are too hard for your baby to latch on to, put a warm washcloth on them for a few minutes or take a shower. You can also massage your milk glands toward your nipple and squeeze out a little milk. If you are still uncomfortable after your baby nurses, put ice on your breasts for a few minutes, or tuck a cold cabbage leaf into your bra. While this may seem like odd advice, cabbage, possibly because of its sulfur content, draws out the excess fluid to reduce swelling and the cold feels good.

Now when your baby begins to feed, you may feel a tingling or burning sensation a moment before milk begins to leak from your breasts. This is the let-down reflex, caused by the release of oxytocin, the hormone that triggers contractions in the muscles surrounding the milk-producing cells to squeeze the milk into the milk ducts. (You don't need to be feeding a baby to trigger this reflex. It can happen during sex, when you see a picture of a baby, if you hear a baby cry, and sometimes for no apparent reason.) If you don't feel it, you'll still know milk is flowing because your baby will start gulping. (He may also pull away for a moment if the milk is spraying too fast.)

Gearing Up

The nice thing about breastfeeding is you really don't need anything but your baby and your body. But it can be even nicer if you have:

Lots of pillows to tuck around you.
A nursing pillow. There are several types: a wedge that sits on your lap; a wide, partial ring for your waist (great for football holds or nursing twins); and the Brest Friend, which is a smaller ring with a back support.
A nursing stool. This low stool lifts your legs just enough to ease the strain on your lower back.
Cloth diapers, and lots of them, to catch messy burps and drool.
An electric pump. The popular Medela Pump In Style is usually powerful enough, but rent a hospital-grade pump if you need more suction.
A sling. Great for nursing while on the run.

Breastfeeding Fashions

Just because you are nursing doesn't mean that you can't look good. You can find sleek, comfortable clothes, including professional outfits for when you return to work but want to continue pumping. In the haze of those early weeks, look for comfort and easy access in whatever you wear.

Bras: You will probably have more cleavage than usual, so you'll need comfortable nursing bras that offer good support. You may find the snap-front styles easier to manage than those with hooks. Avoid tight or underwire bras.
Casual wear: Look for washable button-front shirts and T-shirts for easy nursing access. You can always drape a baby blanket for discreet breastfeeding in public.
A nursing dress: You may eventually get sick of untucked shirts, so one official nursing dress, with its discreetly hidden slits, is nice to have.
Breast pads and shells: To absorb milk leakage, tuck some cotton or flannel breast pads into your bra.

Especially in the early weeks, when your milk lets down as your baby sucks on your breast, you'll want something to absorb the leaking from the other breast. Breast shells are made from silicone and tuck into your bra and are especially helpful in the first weeks. They keep your nipples protruding which relieves engorgement and makes it easier for your baby to latch on. Any dripping milk collects in the shell, and you can freeze it for future use.

Maintaining Your Milk Supply

You will have more success breastfeeding if you get plenty of rest, surrender to your baby, and are surrounded by people who support you. Don't be discouraged by friends or relatives who are uncomfortable at the sight of you breastfeeding, or keep questioning your ability to feed your baby. If your baby wants to nurse every hour or two, let her. Her stomach will eventually get bigger, she'll become strong enough to feed more efficiently, and the time between feedings will increase.

If you are concerned about your milk supply, take more naps and make sure you are eating and drinking enough. Let your baby feed more frequently (if she's using a pacifier, you might want to take it away for a while) and consult your doctor or a lactation specialist. Breastfeeding can be a confusing journey, but by using these tips, you'll be well prepared to make your baby happy and healthy!

For more information about breastfeeding your new child, check out The Only Baby Book You'll Ever Need: A Parent's Guide to Everything, which includes expert advice from Marian Borden, Ellen Bowers PhD, Vincent Iannelli, MD, and others!

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