Feeding your child is one of the most basic instincts that you have as a parent. Of course, you want to do it just right. The trouble is, so much advice is available everywhere you turn. How do you sort it all out? Here is some simple advice as well as some good resources that you can turn to.

1. Breastfeed your baby if you can.

There are numerous benefits for your baby including less risk of infection, allergy, diabetes and even certain cancers
Here is a great guide: Breastfeeding

Remember that what you ingest can affect the baby. Do not smoke marijuana during the months you are breastfeeding- marijuana concentrates in breast milk so that the amount in milk is high. If you need to be on methadone or buprenorphine (subutex) for opiate addiction treatment, please make sure your providers are aware.

There are personal choice reasons why a mother may choose not to breastfeed. Infant formula is a good option for these babies. These days, you will see multiple choices available. Most of this is about marketing, not your baby’s health. Remember that there are 3 basic types: milk-based, soy-based and low-allergy. Most formula fed babies start with a milk-based formula that is either Similac, Enfamil or Nestle brand. If you are eligible for assistance from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, then you may be directed towards a certain brand. Excellent general information is available at Feeding Nutrition.

Sometimes breastfeeding is not an option. There are certain medical conditions, such as HIV infection, when it is not recommended. If a mother is taking certain medications, it may not be a good idea either. Look here to see if any of your medications are an issue: Infant Risk CenterMake sure all your medical providers know about medications you are taking

2. Starting solid food

Despite everything you hear, the best timing is not that well understood. We know that breast milk is the best early food. Starting cereal before age 3 months can increase the risk of Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), while waiting too long can increase the risk of allergy. So it seems like the best time to start is between 4 and 6 months.

If there is a strong history of food allergy in your family (a parent or sibling), it is a good idea to talk to us before starting solids- for example at the 2 month well visit.

Listen to your baby. If she likes something, you will know. New textures can take several tries to get used to, so be patient. If green beans go right through her, you will also know.

1. Go one food at a time so that you can see how they are tolerated. Most people wait ½ to 1 week between new foods.
2. Start once/day. Go to twice/day when he/she seems hungry for more than one meal.
3. Avoid foods which are easily choked on- grapes, chips, nuts, hot dogs etc.
4. Avoid honey in infants under age 1 year as this can cause botulism.
5. Finger foods start when h can feed himself in the high chair, usually about 7-9 months.
Aside from this, you can find details on almost everything at this link : Feeding & Nutrition

3. Picky eaters

You can lead a child to the dinner table but you can’t make him eat.

This can be very frustrating for parents, but do not dismay. First of all, he probably has a parent or other relative that was that way, too and is now perfectly healthy. If offered 3 meals/day, children will not always take what is offered, but in the long term, almost all will grow just fine. Regular checkups will make sure that is the case. For more information, you can read this: How to handle picky eaters

4. Overweight

Maintaining a healthy weight is a huge challenge for many children and families. We know that there are several ways to help:

1. Have regular family meals.
2. Be a role model by eating healthy yourself.
3. Avoid fast/processed food
3. Avoid battles over food.
4. Involve kids in the process.
5. Exercise- both for your child and yourself
6. Limit electronics

One big problem is that experts do not yet agree on what is “healthy” eating. For more on that subject, we recommend this interview with Dr. David Ludwig of Boston’s Children’s Hospital: Are All Calories Equal?

And remember, self-esteem is just as important as a healthy weight. As Dr. Stephen Pont of the University of Texas puts it, “Guilt and blame don’t motivate change, they just make people feel bad, and when people feel bad, they don’t tend to be motivated toward healthy behavior.” How Not to Talk to a Child Who Is Overweight

Eating Disorders

The most serious consequence of too much focus on weight is when unhealthy obsessions result. This can result in Anorexia (weight loss from too little intake), Bulimia (cycles of binge eating and vomiting or other forms of purging), or some combination. From an early age, you can work on creating a home which helps to promote healthy attitudes towards weight, body image and eating.

For more information, click here: Eating Disorders

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Challenge the idea that thinness is good, while body fat equals laziness.
  2. Avoid communicating, “I will like you better if you lose weight”
  3. Discourage the idea that body size will lead to happiness.
  4. Avoid judging others and yourself on the basis of body weight or shape.
  5. Be a role model of healthy self-esteem- talk about yourself with respect.
  6. Value yourself based on your character.
  7. Embrace the natural diversity of human bodies.
  8. If you suspect an eating disorder, show concern and encourage professional help.
  9. Become a critical viewer of media messages about self-esteem and body image.