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Father Feeding Baby Daughter In High Chair

Baby feeding challenges

What to expect — and how to cope

Bringing home your baby

When you have a baby, it’s an adjustment period for everyone; you and your little one are getting used to each other. Then there’s the matter of a schedule — or at least a good routine. Between developing a good sleep pattern and a feeding regimen, those first few weeks and months can feel overwhelming. For the first 4 to 6 months of your baby’s life, they will consume only milk. This can be given via breast or bottle feeding. You may provide all breast milk, all formula or alternate each throughout the day.

Common newborn feeding challenges

Your baby is learning, just like you are, how and when to feed. No need to worry, mama — newborn feeding issues are relatively common, whether you’re breastfeeding or using formula. Some common feeding challenges to watch for are:

  • Taking a long time to feed
  • Fussiness during feedings
  • Arching their back while eating
  • Spitting up
  • Not latching properly
  • Refusing a bottle
  • Gas or crying after a feeding

Once you start introducing your baby to solid foods, you may find that some of the feeding challenges you had before have gone away. However, a baby’s first foods may bring with them new adventures.

Starting solid foods

Starting solids is a fun and exciting time. You’ll get to witness your baby trying new tastes (and textures) for the first time. Maybe they excitedly open wide for more peas or make faces if they’re not crazy about carrots.

Once your pediatrician has told you that your child is ready for solids, typically between 4 and 6 months of age, start slowly. Introduce one new food at a time, about every three to four days, and be alert for allergic reactions, such as a rash or vomiting. Watch for your baby’s natural feeding cues — they will let you know when they’re not hungry.

Never try too hard to make your baby eat, especially when they are overly tired or fussy. Distractions such as television, loud noises or even a wet or dirty diaper can also interrupt feedings. Rotate between fruits and vegetables so your child doesn’t get partial to the sweeter taste of fruit. If you’ve introduced a fruit at one feeding, introduce a veggie at the next one.

If at first you don’t succeed — try, try again. It may take several attempts before your child accepts a particular food, like carrots or avocados. The important thing is to keep trying. Introduce new and interesting tastes to diversify your baby’s palette.

What to do when your baby has trouble with feedings

If your little one is having any feeding challenges, make an appointment with your pediatrician. Feeding issues can lead to failure to thrive, dehydration, developmental delays and other health concerns.

Work with your child’s doctor to find out how to handle feeding issues. Is your child fussy during feedings, or gassy and uncomfortable afterward? It may be that their formula needs to be changed, or they need to be fed in a different position. Babies who arch their back or seem to writhe in pain during feedings often have acid reflux, which you can treat with a prescription acid reducer. Those who seem uninterested in feedings may need a faster-flow nipple.

Some children have difficulty with new textures, which can make the introduction of solids more challenging. Others may experience allergic reactions, or just be more cautious about the transition.

Most importantly, try to relax. Every baby is different and will eat on their own schedule. Along the way, you’ll have some trial and error as you nurse, pump or bottle feed. Let your child guide you. And if you have concerns, talk to your pediatrician.

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