An important part of nurturing involves establishing a positive feeding relationship with your baby.
According to feeding experts, infants eat and develop best when parents feed them in a calm, smooth and continuous manner in a social environment that is loving and accepting. Infants eat less well when parents are overactive or overmanage the feeding process.
A positive feeding relationship requires a division of responsibility between parent and child. The parent is responsible for what the child is offered to eat, the child is responsible for how much. During infancy, parents must provide an appropriate breastmilk or formula feeding, but they must allow the infant to regulate the amounts consumed. It’s important for parents to allow the infant to set the timing and pacing of feeding. Around 6 months of age, parents must offer solid foods in response to signs of developmental readiness, but again they must let their child take the initiative on the amounts consumed and what foods to accept.
- Follow the baby’s signals and feed promptly when the baby is hungry.
- Let the baby decide how much to consume and the speed. Expect the baby to rest or socialize, and then go back to eating.
- Interact (sing, talk, smile) and look at each other during feeding, but don’t overstimulate the baby.
- Stop the feeding when the baby shows signs of satiety by refusing the nipple or turning away, refusing to open the mouth, or arching the back.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
Breastfeeding gives children the healthiest start in life by offering a superior source of nutrition and a wide range of health benefits, while also supporting:
- Brain development
- Immune system maturation
- Appropriate growth of teeth and jaw
Reduced Health Risks for Baby
Research indicates babies that are breastfed have lower chances of risks for:
- SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Childhood obesity
- Type 2 diabetes
- Childhood cancer
- Asthma, allergies and sensitivities
- Respiratory tract complications and gastroenteritis
- Ear infections
- Heart problems, elevated blood pressure, and high cholesterol
Reduced Health Risks for Breastfeeding Mothers
Research shows mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
How Long Should I Breastfeed?
While any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial and promotes wellness for your baby, both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American Academy of Pediatrics agree the ideal feeding pattern for infants is exclusive breastfeeding for six months after birth, and continuous breastfeeding along with complementary foods from 6 months to 12 months after birth, and thereafter as long as mutually desired.
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Office of Women’s Health
Committee on Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Ellyn Satter Institute
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KOHLS EAT WELL, BE WELL NUTRITION PROGRAM.
Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well Program
Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.
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