Ultimate Guide to a Newborn Baby Sleep Routine

Newborn Sleep Routine Guide

Developing a Newborn Sleep Routine is one of the first challenges a mother face with her new baby, and it’s an important step to get right in early on, but with the tips in this guide you can maximize your babies sleep, and sleep for the whole family you had taken.

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Introduction

Are you in the throngs of enduring what feels like endless sleepless nights wondering if you’ll ever get a full eight hours’ sleep again? Ah – you’ve just had a new baby!  Don’t worry – you will sleep again, but when you finally get your zzz’s back will depend on your child and the routine you put into place.

So to assist Mums with this, TheBabySpot has created this guide to developing a your very own Newborn Baby Sleep Routine.

Without adding too much pressure to your hectic schedule, putting your baby into a routine will help his or her sleeping pattern to fall into place.  Remember, all parents are different and some prefer a more relaxed approach to daily life than others.  However, if you prefer to be led by your baby’s sleep patterns be prepared for it to take some time before he or she sleeps at the right time.baby-sleeping-routine-fast-asleep

If you are looking for some help, this guide will help you to understand your baby’s sleep patterns.  It will show you how to get your baby sleeping through the night as quickly as possible.  All children are different and some babies will sleep through the night as early as six weeks. Others might take four or five months to sleep from 11.00pm to 7.00am.

Being patient and following a good routine that works for you and the rest of your family will ultimately help settle your baby into positive sleep behaviour. There are also many other factors which might hinder your child’s sleep.  Understanding what they are and how to deal with them is part of the battle.

In this guide we will tackle:

Hopefully, by the end of this guide you and your little one will be dropping off to dreamland in no time!1    It’s All About Routine…

 

It’s All About… Developing a Newborn Sleeping Routine…

Follow a good routine to teach your baby good sleeping habits!Baby-Sleep-Routine

Some mothers don’t believe in routine and others are rigid – to the minute.  Believe it or not, a baby sleep routine does win out in the end so it’s important to put one into place.

However, it doesn’t have to be completely unbending and there should be some flexibility involved. A baby needs to know when it’s sleep time and when it’s not!

Babies have no idea of night or day time when they’re born so it’s up to parents to teach them good habits.  Very small babies only sleep for short periods of time to begin with, and most of that sleep is light sleep which is why it’s easy to disturb them.

Once you find a routine that works for you, you’ll find your days settling into a recognisable pattern and everything else should feel much easier to cope with.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep for mum and dad takes its toll so try and establish a routine early on. Of course, no baby will respond to a pattern from day one but after two or three weeks you can certainly start to try and establish one.

 

Is There A Tried & Tested Routine That Works?

There are no hard and fast rules and the following is a guideline which you can adapt to suit your family’s needs.

During those first precious weeks try and take a break at the same time your baby sleeps. Even if it’s just to put your feet up, relax and recharge those batteries, after all, you need your energy!  You could use the other part of the time for chores so you get some of those household bits and pieces done.

What’s best for your baby depends on the age of your child.  A newborn should be allowed to sleep when they need to but from approximately week two or three try to put into place a form of routine.  This is because you might find it hard over the coming months, and even years, to get your baby to sleep through the night when there’s been no pattern in place before.  Babies like routine and grasp very quickly what’s happening and when it’s happening.

 

Signs Your Baby Needs A Sleep

Look out for when your baby becomes irritable, it’s a sign of tiredness and at this early stage, tetchiness will probably occur every two or three hours.  Here’s a great source of information detailing how much sleep babies, children and adults should have:

 

How much sleep does your child need?

AgeSleep Requirements Per 24hrs
0-2 months12-18 hours
3-11 months14-15 hours
1-3 years12-14 hours
3-5 years11-13 hours
5-10 years10-11 hours
10-17 years8.5-9.25 hours
Adults7-9 hours

 

Baby Sleep Routine At 4 Weeks:

As a mother it’s better for you to be up and ready before your baby and while this is easier said than done, you have to start somewhere!

Get your baby up at 7.00am and this should be your starting point for your baby’s day.  Even if your baby has already been up at 5.00am wake them again.  This is really important as it will help them to establish their sleep pattern, getting them used to the time of day.  This is the time to feed, wash and change your baby.

Put your baby back to sleep at approximately 9 to 9.15am for 45 minutes and then wake your baby at approximately 10.00am for one hour.  You should next feed around 11.00am and then baby should go back to sleep for a long lunchtime nap, at approximately 11.45am.

In an ideal world your baby will sleep until approximately 2pm. If not, persevere because the aim is for 4 hourly feeds with short naps in between.  Don’t leave your baby asleep after 2.00pm because you want him or her to have a nap late afternoon.  The late afternoon nap gives them a good opportunity to be tired enough to sleep longer at night.

Next, feed your baby around 3pm and again introduce a nap at approximately 4.00pm for no more than one hour.  Your baby should always be up at 5.00pm. This is to make sure that he or she is tired enough to go to sleep at 7 or 7.30pm.

You should aim to feed your baby just before 7.00pm.  At this point your baby should be sleepy enough to want to go to sleep.

You can start to drop night feeds from approximately 7 weeks but in the meantime, feed at 11.00pm when baby should either wake naturally or start to stir.  After this feed your baby should sleep a few more hours until the next feed which normally occurs around 3.00am.

 

How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine at 4 weeks!

  1. Try to start your baby’s day at 7.00am every day for a week – this instils good habits.
  2. Get into the habit of morning, lunch and afternoon naps.
  3. Always have your baby up at 5.00pm to encourage a 7.00pm bedtime.
  4. Don’t wake your baby during the night – the aim is to push out the feeds as long as possible.
  5. Relax when your baby sleeps to re-charge your batteries.

 

TimeTask
7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:00-9:15amPut baby back to sleep for 45mins.
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
11.45amPut baby back to sleep for long sleep... but no longer than 2pm
3:00pmFeed baby ready for a nap
4:00pmPut baby back to sleep for 1 hour sleep
7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep
11:00pmBaby will normally wake for another feed. After burping, put baby back to sleep
3:00amBaby will normally wake for another feed. After burping, put baby back to sleep

 

Baby Sleep Routine At 9 Weeks:

At 9 weeks + your baby should drop the 11.00pm feed naturally and sleep until the middle of the night, 2 or 3.00am.  If you find your baby is still sound asleep at 2 or 3.00am, don’t wake him or her – push out the feed until baby wakes naturally.  This will help get your baby through the night the aim is for 12 hours straight sleep.

How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine at 9 weeks!

  1. Encourage your baby to drop the 11.00pm feed, don’t wake him or her – push it out as long as possible.

 

TimeTask
7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:00-9:15amPut baby back to sleep for 45mins.
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
11.45amPut baby back to sleep for long sleep... but no longer than 2pm
3:00pmFeed baby ready for a nap
4:00pmPut baby back to sleep for 1 hour sleep
7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep
3:00amBaby will normally wake for another feed. After burping, put baby back to sleep

 

Remember! Even if your baby wakes at 5.00am, don’t forget to start the daily routine at 7.00am.  Within a few days you will start to get into a comfortable pattern.

 

Baby Sleep Routine At 12 Weeks Plus:

Normally when weaning begins you will discover that your baby stays up longer in the morning and sleeps for deeper and longer stretches at night.  This is when most babies go through the night from 7.00pm for 11 or 12 hours.

During the day, your baby will still need to nap.  Try and keep up the mid-morning nap for half an hour, it shouldn’t be dropped until age 1.  Bring forward lunch/nap to 11.30am and combine it with a small milk feed so your child is ready for a long lunchtime nap.  The lunchtime nap should last anything from 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, depending on your child.

At around the 4 to 6 month mark, your baby might still get irritable and fuss so a short nap in the afternoon should help.  However, always have your baby up by 4.00pm so he or she is tired enough for the long night-time sleep around 7 to 7.30pm.

 

How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine at 12+ weeks!

  1. If your baby is too tired for lunch bring it forward to 11.30am.
  2. Don’t be tempted to drop the afternoon nap because it could interfere with bedtime.
  3. Have your baby up at 4:00pm at the latest after napping.

 

TimeTask
7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:00-9:15amPut baby back to sleep for 30mins.
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
11.30amPut baby back to sleep for long sleep... but no longer than 2pm
3:00pmFeed baby ready for a nap
3.30pmPut baby back to sleep for 30min sleep
7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep

 

Baby Sleep Routine At 12 Months:

At one year old, your child should lose the late afternoon nap and should have one long nap at lunchtime, 2 to 3 hours long.  Some babies still need a second nap and this should be taken in the middle of the morning around 9.30am for half an hour.  This nap usually disappears around the 18 month old mark.

The lunchtime nap will remain important for a long time – children age 3 and sometimes 4 still need a rest at this time of day.  Remember, your baby is a very busy person!  He or she is learning new skills and discovering exciting new things every day and this is exhausting.  It’s good for your child to sleep and to be in a recognisable routine.

Of course, you might find your child is too tired to eat lunch especially if you’ve dropped that morning nap so you could bring lunchtime forward to 11.00am. Give half of their lunch to him or her at that point and the rest on waking up.  Milk is great at this time too, especially before the lunchtime nap because it is soothing and helps to make baby feel sleepy.

 

How to Develop a Baby Sleep Routine 12 months!

  1. This is the time to drop the late afternoon nap and encourage a longer nap at lunchtime.
  2. If your baby is too tired for lunch, bring it forward by half an hour and save any leftovers for after the lunchtime nap.

 

TimeTask
7:00-7:15amWake baby up for feed, wash and change of nappy
9:30amPut baby back to sleep for 30mins. Optional after 18 months
11:00amWake baby up for a feed
1:00-1:30pmPut baby back to sleep for 2-3 hour sleep
6:00-7:00pmFeed baby ready for a sleep
7:00-7:30pmPut baby back to sleep for big sleep

 

Baby Can’t Get No Sleep!

Does your baby cry when you put him or her down?

Baby-Crying-In-Bed

Bottle V Breast – The Debate Continues!

It’s worth remembering that there are lots of factors which might help and hinder sleep.

Bottle-fed babies tend to sleep through the night much faster than breastfed babies. This is because formula milk is notoriously heavier than breast milk so makes babies feel sleepier.

Breast milk is quicker to digest. Therefore breastfed babies become hungry faster, whereas formula-fed babies digest milk slowly so hunger pains are kept at bay.  So if you are reading this guide and your baby is 12 weeks old and showing no signs of going through the night it might be because he or she is breastfed.  Don’t feel disheartened, persevere, breastfed babies do catch up in regards to sleeping patterns. There are other benefits of breastfeeding which are covered in more detail here.

 

Colic – The Witching Hour

Some babies go through a colicky period which normally occurs from week 2 or 3, and can stretch to week 9 or 10.

Colic starts in the evening and is usually a combination of wind build-up.

Be patient, your baby is growing and his or her insides are stretching to try and accommodate the milk.

 

Colic Symptoms

Colic episodes can be distressing and some babies cry for hours on end, clenching their fists and drawing their legs up.  This is a sign of tummy discomfort.

 

How To Relieve Colic

To help to relieve their pain you could try Gripe water before feeding which alleviates trapped wind.

Don’t feed your baby lying down, prop him or her upright during feeding, this helps them to stop swallowing air. Always burp your baby after feeding by gently rubbing the back, pushing the wind upwards.

Don’t feel you can’t pick your baby up during an intense crying period and help your baby by massaging the tummy area to disperse wind. Another remedy for colic is choosing a baby bottle with an anti-colic design teat.

 

Actionable Steps for Colic!

  1. Use Gripe water before feeding if your baby has colicky episodes.
  2. Choose a bottle with an anti-colic teat.
  3. Feed your baby propped up to help wind disperse naturally.
  4. Always burp your baby after feeding.
  5. Don’t be afraid to pick your baby up, if in discomfort.
  6. Gently rub your baby’s tummy to sooth.
  7. Stay calm!  Colic eventually passes.

Ideal Baby Room Temperature

Keep the temperature of your baby’s room cool.  Unsettled babies are sometimes too warm.

It’s recommended that a baby’s room be no more than 16-20 deg C (61-68 degrees F) and babies dressed accordingly.  This is a clever guide to help you know what your baby should be wearing to bed.

How to dress your baby for bed

When dressing your newborn baby for bed is suggested that wrap your in a swaddle with arms inside. Swaddling your baby arms in help your baby feel safe and secure, and prevents them from startling themselves awake, by hitting themselve with a stray arm. As your baby grows older you can transition them into a sleeping bag.

Its important to consider the TOG rating of what you baby wears to bed to ensure its not to hot or too cold for your climate or room temperature.

TOG ratingAmbient Room TemperatureRecommended Product
0.2 TOG24-27 degree Celsius0.2 TOG Swaddle
1.0 TOG21-23 degree Celsius1.0 TOG Sleeping Bag
1.0 TOG Swaddle
2.5 TOG16-20 degree Celsius2.5 TOG Sleeping Bag
2.5 TOG Swaddle

There’s no doubt, swaddling is an art-form and here’s a little video to help you get to grips with swaddling your baby.  If you can’t swaddle don’t worry, there are ready-made swaddle bags. Swaddle bags are useful for babies who like to sleep entirely covered or part-covered. Simply zip your child in so they are nice and snug. A good swaddle to try is the ErgoPouch.

Baby Sleeping Swaddle

How To Swaddle Baby video:

  1. As an alternative to swaddling you could try the ErgoPouch sleeping bag which cocoons beautifully without being restrictive.  Choose the correct tog according to the season and temperature of baby’s bedroom. Courtesy of: http://goo.gl/Xm1q8y
  2. Don’t overcrowd your baby’s cot or crib – too many objects could make the cot very warm and too busy.  Stuffed animals in abundance could pose a health risk.
  3. A twinkling mobile is hypnotic and often works perfectly to lull babies to sleep; babies love colours and different shapes as well as gentle music.
  4. At night, tell your baby it is night time so it’s sleeping time.  It’s always a good idea to tell your baby what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. Babies love being spoken to especially by mum’s voice, it helps them to understand later on.
  5. Be kind but firm, if your baby won’t go to sleep, comfort them but don’t be tempted to pick them up unless you think there might be a specific reason why they won’t sleep.  Never rock your child to sleep or let them fall asleep on you; if you do this your baby will begin to expect it every time it’s time to go to bed.
  6. Perhaps choose some soft music such as classical piece because it is soothing and relaxing, babies like this type of sound.
  7. Babies also love white noise!  You might notice that when you use the vacuum
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Ideal Baby Cots

Choosing your babies cots can be a task on its own, but ideally should be done before your baby arrives home. There are all sorts of different baby beds to choose, from cribs, classic old style cots, sleigh cots, etc … but checkout our guide on how to choose the right cot.

Whatever you buy, make sure the bed, mattress and bedding meets Australian Standards, meets the Sids guidlines, and is comfortable and won’t make the baby to hot.

 

Other Reasons Baby Doesn’t Settle

Sometimes your baby just won’t settle.

Some babies are exemplary – they sleep when they should, they feed when they should and they hardly ever cry. This is rare and most babies have an unsettled period.  If your baby doesn’t settle remember as long as he or she has fed well, then sleep should be achievable.  Ask yourself if your baby has eaten enough? Check your baby’s nappy and make sure the temperature in your baby’s room is comfortable.

Your baby might be struggling with wind which will definitely hinder sleep or might be unwell so keep a thermometer handy.  Sometimes baby is just over-tired, in which case try your best to relax him or her, soothing and settling.

If your baby continues to be unsettled for a few weeks there might be another reason which needs exploring.  In which case, it is a good idea to seek advice from your doctor to check for allergies for example, or see a sleep consultant in extreme cases.

Heres some more tips for a Baby Sleep Routine.

 

How to Settle a Crying Baby!

  1. If baby doesn’t settle perhaps there’s been an interruption to routine?  It’s easy enough to remedy, just go back to basics and start again.
  2. Things to check: your baby’s nappy, bedroom temperature, trapped wind.
  3. Ask yourself if your baby has fed well and check baby’s body temperature.
  4. Don’t be frightened to speak to your doctor if unsettled episodes continue.

 

Bedtime Routine Video Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

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Top Baby Sleeping Tips!

  • Nap your baby in the same place every day.  Generally the cot or a crib is the best possible place but if not, a buggy will suffice.  This is so your baby knows it’s time to go to sleep.  If it’s hot or cold a good quality sheepskin liner will work well for your baby’s comfort. In cold weather sheepskin keeps baby warm and snug and in warm weather it cools the body down.
  • Develop a night time routine, for example, bathe your baby, feed, read a story and put your baby down to sleep.  Your baby will recognise the pattern which is soothing and comforting.
  • Swaddling is an excellent way of helping your baby to sleep because it cocoons in warmth and comfort – reminiscent of the womb. Swaddle your baby every time they have a nap, even during the daytime so it’s associated with going to sleep, babies like familiarity.

 

What NOT To Do!

Co-Sleeping

Don’t Fall Asleep With Your Baby On You! (image source http://goo.gl/F9HHAV)

Bad habits are easy to fall into and unfortunately, co-sleeping is one.  Tempting though it might be, don’t try it because it poses a serious health risk.

The safest place for your baby to sleep is in your bedroom for the first six months, however this should be in a cot or a crib and never in your bed.  Sometimes, you might find you doze off while breast feeding or because your baby has fallen asleep on you and you find yourself drifting to sleep.  This is very risky and some sleeping like this could suffocate your baby.

Here are some extra resources from “SIDS and Kids” on co-sleeping and the risks associated with sudden infant death syndrome.

 

Actionable Steps for Co-Sleeping!

Here are some pointers to avoid falling asleep in the same bed as your baby:

  • Check your baby can’t fall out of the bed.
  • Never cover your baby with your duvet, a duvet could stop your baby from breathing.
  • Don’t put your baby on a pillow as this is a suffocation risk.
  • If you feel sleepy move your baby to the cot quickly or ask your partner to take over.
  • For the first six months keep your baby in your room but in a separate cot/crib.
  • From 6 months plus, move your baby into their own room.  Start by introducing naps in their own room first, gradually increasing the number of naps until they are used to their surroundings.  If you are not using a cot yet, place the crib on top of the cot and after a few days, place baby directly into the cot without the crib.  Using this method means change won’t be as drastic as moving them straight from crib to cot.

Ultimate Guide To Introducing Solids To Your Baby

Introducing Solids to Babies Guide

Introducing Solids To Your Baby is a major milestone, and transitioning from milk to baby food can take time, but with the tips in this guide you can make it an enjoyable experience that you won’t soon forget.

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A baby’s first year is full of milestones. Some theirs and most ours as parents.

The first time you did the diaper, surviving the first night when you brought your baby home, the first time daddy managed a whole day with the baby while Mama was on a break. Ah, the joys of parenthood.

One of the biggest milestones is introducing solids, and it can be very exciting for baby, and even more so for mothers. If your breastfeeding your little one, then you might be relieved to finally have an alternative source of food.

I know I was…

But starting solids is no easy run, and there is a whole lot you need to know before you both go down that road. And be prepared for disaster.

So Mummies, get out your notepad and take notes! Here is everything you need to know about introducing solids to your baby.

introducing solids to baby

When To Start Solids With Your Baby?

It takes a baby’s digestive system 4 months to develop the enzymes that help break down foods that are not milk. Before this time, the babies menu has one sole item- milk (breast or formula).

The ideal time to start solids is between 4 to 6 months.

While some babies start showing interest in solids by 4 months, research says that their digestive systems are not ready for solids until 6 months of age.

The early introduction could lead to diarrhea and gastroenteritis. And cleaning up all that poop is no joke honestly. If there is some funny business about their diapers and you are not sure, then it is strongly recommended to visit a pediatrician right away.

Take Tammy Gold’s word for it, she is an expert.

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Signs Your Baby Is Ready To Try Solids

If you are enjoying your guilt-free pizza around your child and he/she is trying to reach it or making a fuss, then chances are they are ready to indulge in this great activity called eating. Unfortunately for their taste buds, they cannot have the pizza anywhere in the near future.

Besides this, if your baby is chewing on his toys or is constantly trying to eat her hands, then this to start solids. Some babies do not communicate so well (which is no cause for concern), in which case you need to look for other signs:

  • Your baby can control his neck and hold his head up
  • Sits with only a little support
  • Responds with an open mouth when you put a spoonful

Best Baby Foods To Start With

Not the pizza, this is settled. You start with pureed fruits and vegetables that are very thin and runny so they can digest it easily. Some babies hate the different taste and might spit it out right away but take heart and don’t worry. To begin with, baby cereal, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, avocados, pears, squash and full-fat yogurt are excellent ideas.

foods-to-introduce-solids-to-baby

If the baby responds positively to these foods and their digestive systems agree too, then gradually you change the texture and thicken the pureed foods. The process is a slow one so be patient, and your baby will take a liking to it too as well.

How to choose first foods for baby 4-6 months old:

  1. Start with things that grow on trees or are grow close to the ground. (baby cereal, rice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, bananas, avocados, pears, squash)
  2. Unless you are trying baby-led weaning, you should offer runny and smooth purees.

How to choose foods for baby 6-8 months old:

  1. Same as 4-6 month old, plus introduce more variety of fruits and veges, and some meat and grains  (apricots, blueberries, grapes, kiwi fruit, broccoli, carrots, parsnip, zuccini, beans, chicken, turkey, pasta, oats)
  2. Unless you are trying baby-led weaning, you should offer smooth purees.

How to choose foods for baby 8-10 months old:

  1. Same as 6-8 month old, plus introduce more variety of fruits and veges, and some meat,  eggs and dairy. (citrus fruits, tomatos, spinach, onions, cauliflower, beet, peppers, potato, turnip eggplant, beef, eggs, pork, cheese, yogurt)
  2. Unless you are trying baby-led weaning, you should offer thicker purees and smaller finger food.

How to choose foods for baby 10-12 months old:

  1. Same as 8-10 month old, plus introduce more variety of fruits and veges, and some more meat and dairy (strawberries, rasberries, fish, cows milk, corn)
  2. Chopped into finger food size for easy consumption for babies.

How To Prepare For Introducing Solids To Your Baby?

“Take it from me, feeding is about the toughest parenting job in the first year. And more often than not, it ends in tears.”

Personally, I cried at a glimpse of all the spat out food on the table and the floor.

Baby-Solids-Feeding-Starter-Kit

Baby Solids Starter’s kit:

  1. Bib: start clipping on those bibs now or they will reject it later.
  2. High chair: We recommend high chairs that are easily cleaned and collect spilt food over time. And again use these early to avoid the rejection factor
  3. A few plastic spoons: one for feeding, one to hand your baby and a couple more that he might throw away
  4. Soft bowl: a spare bowl for your child to grab off the table might be a good idea too
  5. Reusable Food Pouches: for easier feeding of homemade vegetable or fruit puree. They are also safe and convenient for freezing large batches
  6. Wipes: to clean you your baby and any message afterwards.

Before you start with the actual feeding, take some time out and practice sitting in the high chair a couple of occasions. Make sure you strap him in just right and if your baby has trouble sitting in the high chair after all the strapping and support, then maybe you could delay solids for a couple of more weeks.

Encourage him by exciting him. Take the first bite and make big, yummy faces which make them excited to discover what is it that mummy is having.

How Much Food Should You Start With?

Start with a couple of teaspoons and increase the quantity as you go. Introduce one new fruit or vegetable every four days and give their system the time it needs to adapt. Remember, their digestive systems are just getting started, and they need a head start.

Once your baby starts to reject the spoonful or spits the food out, stop.

Seriously just stop.

As a mother, we always think they haven’t had enough but it is their body, and your baby knows best so it is wise to listen to them. You don’t want them to puke everything they just had or overeat.

Pushing babies to eat often leads to food rejections in the very near future. You want your baby to enjoy eating and not turn it into a task that needs to be checked off the list of things to do.

How much baby food for a 4-6 month old baby?

  1. Breast milk or formula is still the core of the babies diet at this age
  2. Start with baby steps- only 1-3 teaspoons at a time.
  3. Introduce new foods in their diet every 4-7 days.
  4. Don’t push it even if your child hasn’t had any food.

How to Deal With Food Allergies

This is the biggest risk factor and stuff of nightmares of every concerned mother. What if my child is allergic to something and has an adverse reaction to it?

Well, you can’t find out quick enough so be very careful and keep a watchful eye on your child after you introduce a new food. The only way you will discover if your baby is allergic is by having the food.

If any of the family members have any allergies to certain foods, then take extra caution before starting those foods. In fact, it is always best to consult with the pediatrician that knows your baby and ask for his professional advice on the best way to approach a ‘risky’ food to your baby. Sometimes with kids, we can never be too careful.

Symptoms of Baby Food Allergic Reaction:

  • Skin rashes
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Tongue or lip swelling
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive crying

Baby Food Allergy

According to research, if you introduce foods like eggs, seafood and nuts early on, there is a smaller chance your baby will develop an allergy to the particular foods. So I don’t mean to push you down the metaphorical staircase here or anything, but talking to your pediatrician is the best approach to dealing with allergies. It is important that we as parents are comfortable and confident about the foods we offer our babies.

Steps to dealing with baby food allergic reactions:

  1. If there are allergies present in the family, then introduce those foods with utmost care. In case of severe reactions, consult a pediatrician immediately.
  2. In case of severe reactions, consult a pediatrician immediately.Introducing foods that have a risk of allergies sooner decreases a chance of developing them later.
  3. Introducing foods that have a risk of allergies sooner decreases a chance of developing them later.

Offering The Right Food Textures

The texture of the food is one of the biggest discussions in the world of baby-raising. When you first start solids, whether it is at 4 months or 6, you start with pureed, smooth foods that should be made runny with formula or breast milk.

Eventually over the course of weeks as your baby gets accustomed to the idea of having foods other than milk and responds positively, you can make the texture thicker and then later make the food lumpier.

By the time your baby is 9-10 months old, you can start introducing table foods. By their first birthday, they can be eating with the whole family at the table. Be prepared for screaming, a lot of fuss, mess, and food on the table and floor by then. Soon enough quiet dinners will become a thing of the past.

Continuing pureed foods for too long will lead to rejection to different textures when they grow up. You don’t want to raise a picky eater, ladies. Trust me. But if your baby is not comfortable with the change of texture and seems agitated or refuses to take a bite, then back up and slow down. Give him some time and he should settle on his own.

Actionable steps – Offering the Right Food Textures:

  1. Introduce texture once your baby has successfully digested smooth purees.
  2. Take it slow but not too slow. Babies can take different textures by the age of 7 months.
  3. Unless advised by the doctor, they can be eating table foods by 12 months.
  4. If your baby gets fussy and irritated, then back up – this is a major sign he isn’t ready.

Baby-Led Weaning Your Baby

Welcome to the world of modern day baby raising. Parenting tactics have changed drastically over the years, and some typical examples are “don’t say no to your kids” and “don’t spank your kids”.

Did you really think feeding kids would be the same in this era? Nope! Baby-led weaning is when you skip the purees even as first foods and hand the baby finger foods directly. They explore and discover. Sometimes with their tongue and most times with their nose. Just hand them the banana and let them do their thing.

While it is quite obviously the messier option, and kind of makes me cringe… it is an excellent way to create good eating habits in your baby. The baby will adapt to foods well, get excited to eat and really enjoy mealtimes. If you don’t want to rely entirely on baby-led weaning, then you can do a mixture of both, purees plus finger foods.

But you will have to keep an eye on them in case they choke on the food or stuff too much in their nose. Trust me, it happens. Choking and gagging are another one of those things that can easily be classified as ‘nightmare stuff’. If you child is gagging, it is due to the new feeling of food in their mouth. And kids gag a lot when first introduced to foods so don’t be so alarmed. Keep your calm, you will need it.

Baby-Led weaning foods

As mentioned, Baby-led weaning comes with some special considerations to ensure its safe for your baby.

Choosing which finger foods you let your baby try is very important, and the food will need to be prepared, cutting into small managable pieces for the baby (baby fist-size), and may need to be soften by steam cooking or baking it before giving to your baby.

The recommend foods to start with are:

  • Fruits – banana, pear, apple, avocado, peaches, nectarines, melons, plums.
  • Vegetables – broccoli, sweet potato, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, green beans, pumpkin, white potato, beet, bell pepper, cauliflower, cucumber.
  • Grains – whole-wheat fusilli pasta, wheat toast with hummus, boiled rice.
  • Other – toasted bread, ricotta, chicken or turkey chunks, grated cheese.

Heres another resource for more baby led food ideas.

baby led weening

Yep, just hand it over

How to baby led wean your baby:

  1. Just hand over soft foods and watch the mess as it happens (foods mentioned in section above).
  2. Great way to encourage self-feeding.
  3. A better idea would be to take baby-led weaning as well as smooth purees together so keep them used to the different texture.

Pre-Made Baby Foods V’s Home-Made Baby Foods

Do you lack the energy to make baby foods after those nursing/feeding sessions? Or are you off maternity break and simply can’t cope? While making baby food is not that much work or effort, there is little reason to feel guilty about pre-made foods.

Here is the thing. Pre-made baby foods lose most of their nutrition in the packaging process in order to increase their shelf life. I don’t want to give the verdict but regarding nutrition content, home-made food wins. ALWAYS!

Another advantage of making foods at home is you can puree whatever fruit or vegetable you like. Or make mixtures of both. Most pre-packaged foods contain mostly fruit purees and very little vegetable. Your baby will not meet vegetables for a while and might not learn how to enjoy them.

Making baby food at home isn’t that hard and doesn’t even require a lengthy cooking process either. Some fruit simply need to be mashed away. Others need to be boiled or roasted before being mashed away. Also, homemade baby food is much cheaper than pre-made baby food.

But this does not mean pre-made food is a poison of any sort. It does come with a lot of conveniences. I found it very easy to carry a little jar and spoon in my diaper bag and feed it to him when I had no time to make food at home.

Toss one in your bag and you are ready to go

There is no reason why you cannot do a mixture of both. Fruits like banana or avocado simply need to be mashed right up so I will highly encourage you to avoid the jar and do it the old-fashioned way.

home-made-baby-food

How to prepare homemade baby food:

  1. Prepare vegetables or fruit by peeling and chopping food
  2. Steam vegetables or fruit till cooked
  3. Puree with food processor, can add cooking liquid or formula to achieve correct food texture

Successful Homemade Baby Foods Storage

If you lack the energy and time to cut up fruits and cook and puree them after a long day at work then behold. You can always store homemade purees for later use. If this was you, skip the cons of pre-made jars, and get the pros of homemade foods without the daily hassle.

You can simply steam, bake or boil fruits and vegetables and then puree them in a blender or a food processor. You can mix a couple of fruits and vegetable as you go. My baby loved carrots and potatoes together.

As you blend the food, thin them out using formula, breast milk or water. Fill up resusable food pouches or ice cube trays (plastic), and wrap up the tray in plastic and toss in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the pureed cubes from the tray and store in bags.

Make sure you label and date them as you go and remember, DO NOT USE THESE FROZEN FOODS IF STORED FOR MORE THAN A MONTH. This is the word of God.

For more interesting baby recipes, click here.

How to store homemade baby food:

  1. Boil/bake/steam and blend away.
  2. Store for later use by freezing in ice cube trays and or re-useable food pouches.
  3. Label and date them before putting in freezer.
  4. Home-Made Baby Food will keep for 1 month if stored in the freezer, or 2 days if stored in the fridge.

Starting Solids to Premature Babies

Premature babies require special treatment and starting solids is no exception. Every preemie is different from another and the nutritional needs and requirements vary largely depending on how premature your baby is. Whatever the case, you need to talk to your pediatrician first before starting solids since it is a big milestone and it crucial to identify if your preemie is ready or has needs other than milk.

A preemies signs of readiness for solids are same as a full-terms baby’s (holds head up, sits by himself) but there could be development delays so don’t freak out if he doesn’t meet all the requirements. However, if he pushes the food out or gags too much then it is a wise idea to put off solids for a while.

Whatever you decide don’t rush to make milestones meet. This is sound advice to all parents at all points in life. Let all your babies go at their own pace.

Avoiding Non-Picky Eaters

Well, some kids are born picky so we don’t have to take all the blame for their poor eating habits. Only partial. We as parents make our natural picky eaters worse by pushing them too much. Well, I confess I do. My son has taken into licking his spoon first and then pushing out the food if he doesn’t like the taste. It drives me nuts. So if your mealtime is turning into something close to war, then there are some things you are doing wrong.

Fortunately, we can always set right those wrongs and I have been implying some of these methods and with great success.

Start with a scheduled dinner. If the whole family eats together at one table every day then the baby automatically is interested in the activity. There will be a lot of screaming and throwing food and it can get annoying especially after a long day but it is better than a starved child.

Strictly no phones/toys/TV/iPads during dinner time. I agree they make stuffing food down your baby very easy but at a big cost. Your baby doesn’t learn to listen to his hunger cues and honestly, it’s a bad, bad eating habit generally speaking.

Learn more from this Mum and her eating hacks:

YouTube Preview Image

Encourage your baby to feed himself. While feeding your baby with your hands is a lot less messy and takes lesser patience, it is a habit that will stick long and is hard to break. They take it well into toddlerhood and some even later. When I watch my son literally take one grain of rice at a time I get very frustrated but he enjoys the eating process and that calms my nerves.

Give it good time. I know motherhood takes a fair share of patience and then some more. But remember, some good habits will take you a long way. By the time your baby will be 24 months old, their eating habits will last long. Both good and bad. So just work hard for a couple of years.

How to raise a non-picky eater:

  1. Don’t push- you will make it worse.
  2. Encourage self-feeding by leaving him to the plate.
  3. Schedule a dinner time and sit with the whole family.
  4. Give it as much time as needed.
  5. Discourage TV or distractions during meals.

Stick With It… It gets easier

In all honesty when I first started solids I kept thinking feeding my baby just breast milk was so much easier and I wish I has continued for a while longer. But if there is something that does not rhyme with laziness is motherhood.

Also, whenever you decide to start solids remember continuing breast milk or formula is very important. Your baby should receive either or both (whatever you do) for at least a year and then after that they can be put on whole milk but not anytime before 12 months. This is crucial so bookmark this.

This is all the stuff I really wish I had known before I started. The beginning of my journey of solids with my baby was too close to disastrous, but many tears and struggles later we found our way. Patience, all you need is patience.