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Infant feeding 

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The survival, nutritional status and proper growth and development of infants depend mainly on feeding practises. The feeding habits vary considerably across the world though certain guidelines have been put forward for effective feeding.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of adequate and safe complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond.

This notion has been supported by other organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.1– 3

Advantages of Breastfeeding

The mother’s milk provides all the nutrients that are necessary for the infant during the first six months of life. Additionally, it also protects the infant from infections and other disorders by providing the essential components of the immune system. It further helps in forming a bond between the infant and the mother.

The infant can be protected from:
  • Ear infections 
  • Chest infections 
  • Infections of the stomach and the intestines 
  • Urine infections 
  • Childhood diabetes 
  • Eczema 
  • Obesity 
  • Asthma

Advantages for the woman:
  • Can get their figures back faster
Prevents breast cancer, ovarian cancer and weakening of bones later in life1

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Methods of Infant Feeding

The breastfeeding can be started as soon as possible after the birth of the baby (ideally within the first 1 hour).

There are various methods of holding the infant while feeding.   

ome of these include:

  • Cradle hold
  • Cross-cradle hold
  • Football hold
  • Side-lying position

The common point to be followed in all these methods is that the infant’s head and body should be in a straight line, the infant should be close to the mother’s body and should be properly supported.1


Signs That Indicate Proper Feeding

  • The infant has a large mouthful of breast
  • The infant’s chin is touching the breast
  • The infant’s cheek stay puffed during feeding
  • The infant takes long sucks and swallows with a short pause in between
  • The infant comes off the breast on his or her own after feeding


Signs That Indicate Sufficient Feeding 

Following are the signs tell us that baby is getting enough milk.

  • The infant appears satisfied after most feeds
  • The infant progressively gains weight after the first two weeks
  • The infant has wetted at least six nappies a day after the first few days
  • The infant passes a minimum of two yellow stools everyday 


Introduction of Solid Food

The solid foods can be introduced along with breast milk when the infant is older than six months. This is required to provide all the nutrients and minerals that are necessary for the infant at this stage of life. By the fifth month, infants are able to take soft food from the spoon and swallow, and as they reach the sixth month, their ability to use the lip and tongue during feeding increases.6

Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last updated: July 13, 2011

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