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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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Excuse you! About your gassy baby.

Gas is seemingly everywhere when you have a baby. Baby gas tends to vanish by the age of four months but some babies will end up being gassy longer than that.

If you think your little one is gassy, then here are the tricks to try. After this, a fussy baby might just be fussy (babies like to be fussy "just because" sometimes), because he is not feeling well, or is in need of something else.

  • Make sure your babe is latched on well when breastfeeding. First and foremost, this is to your benefit (avoid sore nipples) but secondly it can cut down on slurping air and thus gas. The same goes for bottle feeding; tilt the bottle so that milk completely fills the nipple and give it a tiny shake to work up the air bubbles. Less air in the bottle is less air in your baby.
  • Rub your baby's tummy and rotate her legs bicycle-style to work that air out. Plus, babies love the bicycle leg game.
  • After breastfeeding, hold your baby upright for a little while afterwards. If bottle feeding, try feeding her as upright as possible.
  • Burp often. And don't forget the burping cloths.
  • Never wait until your baby is starving to feed her. A super hungry (or upset) baby will cry and eat at the same time or frantically eat; all the while gulping down air along with her meal.

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Mom feeding baby at table

Baby Feeding Overview: What to Feed, How Much, & What to Avoid

What you feed your baby during the first year is essential to your child’s healthy growth and development. These early nutrients are the building blocks on which your child’s future health depends. Find out what foods the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends for your growing child.

Figuring out when to stop nursing or when to transition to finger foods can be confusing. In addition to the guidance from your pediatrician, we’ve collected important nutrition tips from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the premier source for baby care and health information (aap.org). These valuable feeding must-knows will help solidify a healthy foundation for your child’s health.

Birth-6 Months

The AAP recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least six months. Studies have proved that children who are breastfed for at least six months are less likely to be overweight or obese as they get older.

  • It is considered best to try to breastfeed your newborn within the first hour of delivery.

  • Some newborns breastfeed as often as every 1 1/2 hours, while others feed about every three hours. The AAP says, “breastfed newborns will feed 8-12 or more times per 24 hours (once your milk has come in).”

Breastfeeding can be difficult for many women. For those who chose not to, or are unable to breastfeed, bottle feeding with formula is an alternative.

  • The AAP recommends you first give your baby 2 ounces of formula every 2-3 hours. As your baby grows, your pediatrician can help you adjust the amount of formula for your child.

3-4 Months

According to the AAP, many families introduce complementary solid foods when baby is this age, particularly if the child seems fussy (this happens more often with formula-fed babies). Note: Try not to introduce solids prior to 4 months. The AAP associates this with increased weight gain, both in infancy and early childhood

4-6 Months

With your pediatrician’s guidance, you can introduce your baby to 3-5 tablespoons of single-grain, iron-fortified cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula.

At around 4-8 months, you can also add pureed veggies, fruit and meats to your baby’s diet. (Some doctors suggest starting with vegetables instead of fruit to prevent a preference for sweeter foods.

6 Months-9 Months

The AAP recommends introducing solid foods to your baby around 6 months of age.

  • Introduce one foods new at a time and continue to offer that food for 3-5 days to watch for allergies.

  • Baby’s serving sizes don’t need to be very big: Just 1-2 teaspoons to start, gradually increasing to 3-4 tablespoons as your child gets older.

  • This is a good time to help your baby begin transitioning from a bottle to a sippy cup.

  • Also, this is when you can start helping your baby to self-feed with a spoon.

Tips from the AAP to help baby try new foods include:
  • Multiple exposure to new foods and textures:
    It may take several attempts before baby accepts them.

  • Eat with your baby:
    Babies and toddlers are more likely to eat foods they see their parents eating.

  • Watch for hunger cues:
    This is a good time to start watching your baby for signs of hunger (and fullness).

9-12 Months

Your baby is now developing a whole new set of feeding skills! To support further transitions into solids and self-feeding, the AAP shares the following:

  • Incorporate 2-3 healthy snacks per day, but maintain fruit and vegetable consumption after finger foods are introduced. These shouldn’t be thought of as treats, but as opportunities to self-feed nutritive snacks between set meals.

Attention!

  • Avoid honey in any form for your child's first year, as it can cause infant botulism.

  • Avoid introduction of sugar-sweetened beverages.

  • The AAP dissuades parents from introducing fruit juices until your child is a toddler. If you must introduce juice, the AAP advices waiting “until 6-9 months and limit consumption to 4-6 ounces.” (Tip: When you do begin introducing fruit juices, consider diluting them with water to reduce the sugar content.)

  • No cow’s milk for baby until after the first year (the proteins are difficult for your baby to digest)

  • Watch for choking hazards! Larger pieces of food (think bigger than a pea) should be off-limits to baby.

  • Peanut and other nut butters are sticky, and can be difficult for young children to swallow until they’re older. There is also the risk of a peanut allergy; be sure to talk with your pediatrician about when peanut and other nut butters can be introduced into your child’s diet.
Image: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Toss the Cookies its Healthy Munching Time

By the time a child is one or two, he or she is most likely ready to explore the world. This can mean walking for the first time, showing new feelings and emotions, or branching out at meal times.

Because food preferences are established early on, this is a great time to tap into that sense of "exploration" by presenting your child with a wide range of snack, meal and drink choices. To make sure your child eats a healthy, balanced diet, start by applying the same basic guidelines you use for your own healthy eating to your child's meals and snacks.

Specifically, this means eating a balance of breads, cereal, rice and pasta; vegetables and fruit; dairy products; meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans and legumes; and healthy forms of fat.

The bread box. In the bread and cereal category, seek out foods that will fit in your child's hand (also known as finger foods), and that are soft enough to eat without the risk of choking. Good examples include cooked whole-wheat pasta, soft whole-grain crackers, whole-wheat bagels or bread, cooked breakfast cereal such as oatmeal or cooked rice.

The vegetable bin. When it comes to vegetables, cooked vegetables tend to be safer for young children than raw vegetables because they are softer. You can prepare canned, frozen, or fresh vegetables. Try to feed your child as many different colors of the rainbow as possible, a concept promoted by the 5-A-Day campaign. This means choosing foods from the five colors — yellow/orange, red, blue/purple, green and white. Examples include sweet potato and corn in the yellow/orange category, beets in the red category, eggplant in the blue/purple category, green beans or peas in the green category, and cauliflower in the white category.

The fruit bowl. Most toddlers love fruit and the possibilities here are endless, depending on the season and/or what's available in your supermarket. If you have time to cut and prepare fresh fruit, try strawberries, melon, pineapple, or cut-up grapes. If you are purchasing packaged fruit, try individual servings of applesauce, which are now available in a wide variety of flavors. Most kids also love watermelon on a hot sunny day and if they are thirsty, 100-percent fruit juices are a good choice. Just be mindful of letting your child fill up on juice and remember that whole fruit is a better choice nutritionally than juice.

The dairy case. Dairy products are a good source of calcium and children ages 1 to 3 require 500 mg of calcium per day, according to the American Medical Association. Good choices include cheese, yogurt, milk or even cottage cheese. Many types of cheese and yogurt are now available in individual servings, whether it's cheese sticks or tubes of yogurt. Although these may cost more than buying large containers of the product, the gimmick can often work to your advantage! Other non-dairy, kid-friendly sources of calcium include tofu, salmon, or calcium-fortified beverages, such as orange juice.

Protein choices. Good sources of protein for toddlers include lean meat, chicken or turkey, fish, eggs, tofu or cooked beans. If your child seems skittish of beans or lentils, try preparing them in soup or chili. Although the occasional cut-up hot dog or bologna sandwich probably won't hurt your child, do your best to steer clear of foods with added preservatives, salt or chemicals.

All about fat. Up to the age of two, children need plenty of fat in their diet to ensure proper brain development. (This explains why about half the calories in breast milk and infant formula come from fat.) After the age of two, children need about 30-percent of their calories from fat, according to the American Medical Association. This may mean switching from whole milk to low-fat milk, preparing lower-fat cuts of meat or poultry, or steaming, baking or broiling your food.

The cookie jar. Occasional sweets are okay, but if your child eats candy, cookies or dessert on a regular basis, this may dull his or her taste for healthier foods.

If you have questions relating to your child's nutrition, be sure to check with your pediatrician or other medical professional for expert advice.

By: Barbara C. Bourassa

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Toddler Tempting Healthy Snacks

I hate being the food police in my house. Now that my toddler has an opinion about food, the snacking battle had begun. I offer apple slices, he wants potato chips. I suggest water, he wants juice. I make a yummy mix of almonds, raisins and cranberries and he wants to eat Chex mix. It is exhausting!

According to registered dietitian Jennifer Haas, M.S., R.D. of Nova Medical &Urgent Care Center, Inc. — the largest primary care practice in Loudoun County, Virginia — snacking is essential to keep your child's metabolism going throughout the day. This will make sure your child's body is continually burning calories, which is an important component of weight management.

"If your child gets hungry, let him or her eat! Teach them to listen to their bodies. In doing so, you should also be teaching them portion control. As a parent, you are one of the biggest influences on your child's eating behaviors," says Ms. Haas, who notes that what kids learn in childhood and what they see their parents do will ultimately carry over into their adult lives. "By teaching them healthy snacking now, you can give them the tools to make smart decisions when it comes to their nutrition later in life."

Ms. Hass offers these suggestions for healthy snacks:

  • Instead of kiddie crackers try giving them cheese cubes and whole wheat crackers.
  • Instead of chips give them microwave popcorn (without the butter) or tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip.
  • Instead of fruit snacks try a frozen fruit bar.
  • Instead of sugary fruit drinks give them a nutritious fruit smoothie.
  • Instead of sugary cereals try whole wheat cinnamon toast or a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter.
  • Instead of snack bars give the kids a small bowl of trail mix (watch the portion).
  • Instead of ice cream try low-fat vanilla yogurt with honey, fruit and/or granola.

Other great, healthy kids' snacks include:

  • Apple slices with cinnamon or peanut butter
  • Fresh veggies, like carrots or cherry tomatoes, with low-fat ranch dressing
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Mini pizzas
  • Mini sandwiches, like ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly

Ms. Haas also notes to always ask the child what she wants. If it's an item that's not completely healthy, teach your child portion control and pair the unhealthy item with a healthy one. For example, if your child wants ice cream, give her a smaller portion and pair it with fresh fruit. In addition, including the child in food preparation will make her interested in what she is eating — ultimately teaching her to choose healthier foods. Also be sure to pack snacks if you are going to be out all day. This way, you or your child won't be tempted to stop and get something high-calorie and high in fat.

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How Much Food Does My Child Really Need?

Sometimes, it seems like your tot exists on air. Is that really enough food to keep her going? The good news: Little ones need to eat a lot less than you think. Here are some guidelines, from mom of two and New York City-based nutritionist Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D. (Just remember that all kids are different, so yours may eat more or less than these amounts.)

Birth to 3 months:
  • In the first week, babies on formula typically drink 1 to 2 oz. about six to 10 times a day. (Breastfed babies feed every few hours during the first few weeks, with longer stretches in between as they get older). From two to four weeks, formula-fed infants typically drink 2 to 4 oz., seven times a day.
  • In the second and third month, expect your baby to consume around 4 to 6 oz. about five to seven times a day.
4 to 6 months:

Liquids: About four to seven bottles daily; 4 oz. per feeding. If you’re breastfeeding, nurse whenever your baby is hungry. As he gets older, he will breastfeed less often.

Cereal: At around six months, introduce iron-fortified, ‬single-grain cereals. (Your baby’s natural reserves of iron begin to deplete at around 6 months.) Start with one teaspoon of dry rice cereal mixed with 4 to 5 teaspoons of expressed breast milk or formula. Gradually thicken the consistency and increase to one tablespoon of dry cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. "Offer it twice a day, but don’t expect your baby to eat much at first," says Glassman.

6 to 8 months:

Liquids: About four or five bottles per day, 6 to 8 oz. at a time.

Cereal: Mix 3 to 9 tablespoons of infant cereal with breast milk, formula, or water for two or more feedings daily‬.

Solids: Your baby is ready! "Introduce new textures slowly. Good starters are mashed bananas, mashed avocados, pureed or strained fruits like bananas, pears, apples, and apricots," says Glassman. Start with one teaspoon of fruit two to three times per day, gradually increasing to ¼ to ½ cup per feeding. Also offer one teaspoon of veggies two to three times per day, gradually increasing to ¼ to ½ cup perfeeding.

8 to 10 months:

Liquids: About three to four bottles per day, for a total of 16 to 32 oz.

Cereal: Feed your baby about ¼ to ½ cup i‬ron-fortified infant cereal at each meal.

Solids: ‬Your baby can have about ½ to 1 cup of pureed fruits and veggies a day, ¼ to ½ cup non-pureed fruit, ¼ to ½ cup non-pureed vegetables, ‬¼ to 1/3 cup dairy, 3 to 4 oz. non-citrus juices, and 1/8 to ¼ cup protein (pasteurized cheese cut into small pieces, cooked lentils, pintos, or black or red beans). Start to introduce pea-size pieces of meat (like cooked chicken, turkey, beef, and pork). You no longer have to puree veggies: "Just cook until soft or mash up soft foods like bananas and avocados," says Glassman. You can also serve finger foods like small o-shaped cereals and small pieces of cooked pasta, as well as dairy foods like yogurt and cottage cheese.

10 to 12 months:

Liquids: About three to four bottles per day, for a total of 16-24 oz.

Solids: A well-rounded daily menu includes ¼ to ½ cup rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or iron-fortified cereal;¼ to ½ cup fruit; ¼ to ½ cup vegetables; 1/3 cup dairy; 1/8 to ¼ cup protein foods; and 3 to 4 oz. non-citrus juices. "At this point, your baby can try eating most of the foods you eat now, if they are cut up or mashed properly so that he can safely chew and swallow," says Glassman. ‬

If your child is 1 to 3 years old:

Liquids: Toddlersneed about 4 cups or more of total beverages per day, which includes drinking water and milk. (Limit fruit juice to 4 to 6 oz. daily.)

Food: "On average, your toddler should consume about 1,300 calories a day to promote normal growth and weight gain," says Glassman. Kids this age ‬typically need 2 cups of dairy (milk, cheese, or yogurt); 5 ounces of grains (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, crackers); 4 ounces of protein; 1½ cups of fresh or cooked veggies; and 1½ cups of fresh or cooked fruit.

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