Your baby’s growth and nutrition are inextricably linked. Each stage of feeding your baby, from breast to bottle and solids, will bring new and unique concerns about whether your baby is getting enough.
Are you producing enough breast milk for your baby?
Breasts do not come with calibrations like bottles do and breast fed babies all feed very differently – some suckle for 40 minutes to get their fill and others only a few minutes before they are satisfied. This makes knowing if your baby has had ‘enough’ a common question. Your baby is getting enough milk if he:
- Has 6 or more wet nappies a day with pale urine
- Is alert and responsive and generally content between feeds
- Is gaining weight (breastfed babies regain their birth weight by 3 to 4 weeks)
In the early days you can weigh your baby regularly and record his weight on a growth chart. As he gets older you will weigh him less often. You can use his growth chart to track his weight gain and growth. The bold line on your growth chart shows the international average for weight and height according to age; however it is very important to realize that there is a wide variation in the height and weight of babies and children. As long as your baby follows a curve similar to the bold line he is healthy. Whether your baby is below or above the bold line is not as much of an issue as the shape of his curve.
While you must not be too concerned about your baby’s growth chart, reasons to see your health visitor, include:
- If your baby’s weight or height percentile changes from the pattern it’s been following
- If your baby doesn’t get taller at the same rate at which he is gaining weight
- If your baby doesn’t gain sufficient weight for his height
Is your baby’s diet providing enough nutrients?
Once your baby and toddler is on a full diet of solid foods, you should offer a good variety of protein, such as fish, eggs and meat or beans, vegetables and fruit, dairy and of course white starches such as rice or potatoes. Your baby may have specific preferences (especially in the toddler years) but in general, most babies eat sufficient variety within a week to cover all their nutrient requirements.
Guidelines to offering supplements:
- Very fussy eater or eating a limited choice – a vitamin and mineral supplement
- Not eating enough meat products – will need additional iron.
Won’t eat fruit and vegetables – should have a vitamin supplement
- Ill and not eating for a prolonged period – may need supplements in the form of shakes. These shakes are provided in powder form that you mix with water or milk and provide a meal in a cup or some of the products are ready to drink. Ask your doctor or dietician about these supplements.