Babies may be small, but they actually eat a lot!  You have probably seen your mom taking the baby off to feed him pretty often throughout the day and you might wonder just how she is doing this!  We are going to talk a little bit about breastfeeding and how it works and also how parents will introduce your baby brother or sister to solid foods when they get a little older.

Breastfeeding

If your mom is breastfeeding your baby brother or sister, she will have to do this throughout the day and night when they are very young — babies are growing fast and they needs lots of nutrients and calories to help with that growth.  Here’s how it works:

How to Breastfeed

  • Your mom will sit down and make sure the baby is facing her.  She will usually the support the baby with one arm, so that the baby’s head is resting around the area of her elbow.
  • Your mom will brush her nipple against the baby’s lips so that baby will open its mouth.
  • The baby will put its mouth around your mom’s nipple. This is called “latching on”.
  • The baby will then begin to suck to get the milk from your mom’s breast.  Usually, a baby who is breastfeeding will drink for about ten minutes from one breast.  
  • After around 10 minutes, your mom will put him over her shoulder and pat or rub his back gently until he burps.  This helps keep the air out of a baby’s tummy and prevents him from getting a stomachache from feeding.
  • The baby will then “latch on” to the other breast and drink for another 10 minutes or so. He will need to be burped again after this as well. Then the feeding session is done!

Your mom will probably try to breastfeed your baby brother or sister for a year.  This helps a baby grow big and strong and also means that his immune system – which is what helps the body to fight off illness or disease — will be stronger as well and he is less likely to develop allergies or asthma. It is also a good way for moms to bond with their babies. However, during this first year, parents will start to introduce their baby to solid foods — like the ones that you eat! Read on to find out more!

Introducing a Baby to Solid Foods

When a baby is first born, his digestive system is just not ready to handle solid foods and he feeds exclusively on breastmilk.  However, between the age of 4 months and 6 months, parents will begin to introduce their baby to solid foods — they can’t live off breastmilk forever!  Here are some cool things to know about introducing solid foods to a baby.

  • Timing is everything!  Before 4-6 months, a baby’s stomach simply cannot handle solid foods. However, if parents wait until after 6 months to introduce these foods, the baby might reject them because he does not like the texture!  
  • A baby is not ready to safely eat solid foods until he is able to hold up his own head, sit upright in a high chair and can keep food in his mouth without pushing it out with his tongue (this is called an extrusion reflex, which babies are born with but lose sometime between 4 and 6 months of age).  Doctors also recommend that parents wait to start solid foods until the baby’s birth weight has doubled. That means that, for example, if he weighed 7 pounds when he was born, he should weigh around 14 pounds when he starts solid food.
  • Usually, a baby’s first solid food is a cereal based on rice or oats, which are easy for a baby to digest. Some parents, however, will start their baby on a pureed fruit or vegetable.
  • Some parents buy baby food from the grocery store, but some make it themselves at home.  Either way is okay.
  • A baby won’t start eating three square meals a day all at once!  By 4-6 months, a baby should be eating one solid “meal” along with some breast milk, and by 8-9 months, they will  work up to three solid meals.  Most babies will stop breastfeeding altogether by around 12 months, but some moms will breastfeed for longer than that.
  • As the baby grows, parents will advance them from pureed foods to mashed foods and then eventually to small pieces of solid foods that babies can pick up and learn to feed themselves.  Just be prepared!  Babies can be VERY MESSY when they are learning to eat, and will sometimes spit out or throw food, bowls or spoons — it can make breakfast pretty exciting!

Things won’t be messy forever, though. The cool thing is that eventually your baby brother or sister will start eating on their own just like you do — and in no time at all you’ll be arguing over who gets the last slice of pizza or serving of mashed potatoes!