Feeding and Sleeping, your baby’s development
Breastfeeding exclusively becomes easier as the weeks continue. Your baby will be having between 6 to 8 feeds a day, every 3 to 4 hours. The quantity she or he takes will increase to about 210 mls a feed by 6 months and he will be noticeably growing and gaining weight every week.
Some babies will begin to get hungry and want more that just breastmilk at about 6 months old. Some babies may reach this stage a little earlier. Remember to continue to breastfeed or give formula to your baby along side solid food. He may want less as he gets older, but morning and evening feeds can carry on for as long as you like.
At six months a baby’s body can cope with solids. He can also sit, grasp objects and move them to his mouth. Baby-led weaning is a natural approach where the baby is offered a selection of nutritious finger foods, such as cooked carrot, potato, broccoli, sweet potato, soft fruit such as peach, pear, melon, ripe banana and avocado as well as meals suitable for his age. You will give him baby rice, cereals, fresh pureed vegetables and fruits, nicely warm and with a small plastic spoon. Soon you will add meat and fish to his purees and by the age of one he should have tried nearly all the foods that you eat yourself.
Do not add salt, stock cubes or sugar to his food. Also be aware of all the different foods you add to his diet. Perhaps keep a list so you know if something upsets him or you see any allergic reaction straight away and you will then know the exact cause.
Wheat based foods which contain gluten are not recommended for babies under six months.
Your baby will enjoy meals and he will be sitting properly in his high chair. You will be feeding him with a small plastic spoon and giving him the recommended amount of puree or soft and mashed food, whether it is from a jar, packet or made yourself. Sometimes babies will continue eating when they have really had enough. It is wise to be aware of the amount you give him and give it slowly but consistently, so he is neither frustrated, too hungry or becomes bored and uninterested. It is sensible not to distract him with toys or make him sit for too long in his high chair. Meals are enjoyable family times and so take care to be ready and organized before they begin so you can enjoy them too.
Remember to give him sips of water from a cup with his meals and by the time he is one he will be eating three meals a day, often with a pudding of yogurt, fromage frais or custard and fruit. Choose makes with no or little sugar and mix plain yogurt with fruit yourself. Give full fat dairy products to children under two as children need the extra fat and vitamins found in them. However, do not give cows milk as a drink until he is one.
Always stay with your baby when he is eating in case he starts to choke. Don’t force your baby to eat. Wait until next time if he is not interested this time. Remember not to start bad habits and snacks that he will then depend on.
You may feel ready to introduce an evening bedtime routine when your baby is around 3 moths old. Getting them into a soothing simple bedtime routine may prevent sleeping problems later on. The NHS website suggests the following, which is very sensible and a tried and tested way for generations of parents.
- Having a bath
- Changing into night clothes and a new nappy
- Brushing teeth when they have some
- Putting to bed
- Reading a bedtime story
- Dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
- Giving a good night kiss and cuddle
- Singing a lullaby or having a wind up musical mobile which you put on when you have put your baby to bed.
- Leave the room when your baby is still awake, happy and relaxed and they will learn to fall asleep in their own cot.
If your baby get used to falling asleep in your arms, he may need nursing back to sleep if he wakes up again.