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From Birth to Four Months: Dietary Milestones

You've delivered your bundle of joy. Now what? Well, newborns generally sleep a lot. When he's not snoozing, your baby is usually eating, getting his diaper or outfit changed, or being cuddled by Mom, Dad, and other family members, or friends.

Babies crave physical contact. Touching your newborn a lot is especially crucial during the first six months of life. That's when babies form emotional bonds with parents and other loving adult caregivers such as grandparents and babysitters. A child's future emotional development depends on the security of these early bonds.

Infants must learn to trust that their basic needs will be met again and again. Take eating as an example. Babies feel hunger pangs and begin to fuss and perhaps cry, a very distressing situation for them. Along comes an adult to relieve baby's discomfort, either by offering the breast or a bottle. The baby is relieved and in the bargain, he gets the chance to cuddle with another warm body, to listen to a soothing voice, and to study your face, as babies love to do. Breastfed babies get the added bonus of skin-to-skin contact.

As the hunger/feeding scenario is repeated anywhere from eight to twelve times a day, newborns begin to get the idea that Mom, Dad, or another person will provide what they need to make them feel content. This helps them to know that everything is OK in their world. Experts say that repeatedly satisfying an infant's physical and emotional needs creates feelings of security on a baby's part. Those feelings of trust provide the basis for the self-confidence that guides your child in trying out new things as he matures.

Four months marks a developmental milestone that influences how you feed your baby. It's the very first time that it's acceptable to serve infants solid food. Up until four months, the only nourishment newborns need is breast milk or commercial infant formula. Feeding baby solid foods before she's ready will not help her sleep better, contrary to what others might tell you. In fact, introducing solids early on can increase the risk of food allergies.

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Copyright © 2002 by Elizabeth M. Ward. Excerpted from Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids with permission of its publisher, Adams Media Corporation.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.


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