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Babies need the right kind and the right amount of food to grow up fast and healthy. In their initial years, milk does everything for them. Yes, as a mother, you are still worried if he has drunk enough milk to be satisfied and well-fed. But once you have introduced solid foods to your child, the challenge gets even tougher! How much is really sufficient? Now that the infant is eating solid foods too, how much milk does he still need and how can you check if he’s getting enough? Well, your baby makes it easy for his mom by displaying some clear signs…
Paediatricians recommend exclusive breastfeeding, as far as possible, for the first six months of a baby’s life. After six months, many mothers introduce some solid foods to the baby. It is a challenging experience, and while some babies love the novelty, others make a big fuss. But one common problem that many of us face as mother is this: HOW MUCH milk does the baby still need? Since he is eating solid food also, does he really need all that milk still?
The Secret of Balanced Diet – Solids are NOT Substitutes
First, it is very important to remember that although your baby has started on solid foods, the solids cannot be a substitute for breast milk/formula milk just yet. A major part of your baby’s nutritional requirements have to still be covered with milk. In the initial stages, solids are used just to get the baby used to the idea of chewing food. Your baby will most likely have small quantities of solids at frequent intervals, since, she is more interested in checking out new textures and flavours rather than simply filling her tummy! There will also be days when she wants to have more of milk feeds. It is better to allow her to do so.
5 Signs To Watch Out For If Your Baby is Refusing Milk After Starting Solids
Here are the five signs you must keep track of in your baby to guarantee that’s getting a good balance of milk and solid food. If you notice any abnormalities, you can then adjust your feeding patterns accordingly.
1. Your Baby’s Needs
The amount of food your baby needs will depend on a lot of factors like her weight, feeding patterns, and level of activity. Thus, the amount of milk will vary for different babies and will also depend on how much solid food your baby actually consumes (as opposed to how much he throws or spits up!). According to some well-accepted studies on this subject, here are some guidelines to remember:
- At 6-7 Months: Your baby needs a lot of milk now – safe to say that it is milk that will actually give him his nutrition while solid foods are more ‘experimental’ in nature to just give him a feel. Many doctors also recommend that solids should be fed after nursing session, not before. This helps your baby get breast milk first, which is still your baby’s primary source of nutrition till he is a year old
- At 8-10 Months: The amount of milk will now start going down as your baby slowly accepts and enjoys solid food. Feed on demand by reading your baby’s cues that denote he is still hungry
- At 11-18 Months: Milk still accounts for a good percentage of your child’s diet, almost 50%, as suggested by child nutrition experts
- At 24 Months: By now, your child is getting a lot of his nutrition from solid foods. Milk will now account for about 20% of his nutritional needs
Tip: It is always better not to have a strict feeding schedule for your baby at first, but rather to go with the flow. You will notice that as your baby grows, she will show more inclination towards a variety of solid foods and the milk feeds will reduce accordingly.
Watch: 12 Infant Nutrition Do’s & Don’ts to Keep in Mind
2. Your Baby’s Height and Weight
Two of the most significant signs you must track are your baby’s height and weight. Make sure that you take your baby for regular checkups so that the doctor is able to assess her weight, height and growth parameters.
- At 6 Months: Your little boy should weight about 7.8 Kg now, with a height of about 67.8 cm. For little girls, the number stands at 7.2 Kg and 66.6 cm
- At 9 Months: By this time, baby boys usually reach the weight of about 9.2 Kg now, and a height of about 72.3 cm. For baby girls, the number stands at 8.6 Kg and 71.1 cm
- At 1 Year: At the one year milestone, 10.2 Kg is a healthy weight for boys, with a height of 76.1 cm. Baby girls, on an average, weigh about 9.5 Kg on their first birthday, with a height of 75 cm
If your baby’s height and weight are all well within limits, you can be assured that she is being fed right both in terms of milk and solid foods. Note that these are only indicative and there will be minor variations depending on your baby’s activity level as well as family background. You can refer to more details in the chart below.
3. Your Baby’s Reaction
When you start off with solid food, your baby has to be your guide in checking whether he’s full or needs his favourite milk! But babies can be very unpredictable. So, one day you may find your baby happily finishing up her bowl of puree, while the next day she may refuse to have more than a few spoonfuls. The best thing to do when you are introducing a new food is to dab a pea sized amount on your baby’s tongue. Watch her reaction to see if she likes it, and you can gradually increase the quantity. If not, don’t push it and let her find comfort in milk for the time being.
Also observe your baby when it comes to your feeding style. For instance, your baby may prefer to have small mouthfuls. She may be comfortable with chewing slowly and may not open her mouth for the next mouthful until she’s through.
Tip: Offer your baby only as much as she accepts willingly. It is not a good idea to force feed her at this stage, as she may develop an aversion to the whole feeding routine.
4. Your Baby’s Diapers
This is critical and a great way to check if your child is getting the right nutrition. Your baby, if she is eating sufficient quantities of food, will wet the diapers at regular intervals – typically 4-5 times a day at least. She will also have one or two bowel movements over the course of the day. If your baby is peeing and pooping far less than this, chances are she is not getting enough nutrition. She could also be facing dehydration. It is best to consult a paediatrician.
Also note the colour of your baby’s poop as a good indicator of whether his feed is going down well. If the poop is continuously green for a few days, it can indicate a stomach infection. Yellow-brown poop is also a cause for alarm as it can indicate irritable bowels. Many babies experience tummy problems when their feeding routine first changes from exclusive milk to solid foods + milk. If you notice any abnormality in the poop, discuss it with the doctor to get proper treatment without delay.
5. Your Baby’s Health
Lastly, remember that your baby’s requirement for food (solid/milk) will be different when he is unwell. For example, if your baby is running a fever or has a stomach infection, his needs will naturally be different. It is widely believed by many moms that babies should not be fed solid food if they are sick. But the truth is that most doctors advise it is best to continue feeding the baby normally, unless she is throwing up at regular intervals. If your baby is throwing up food, it is best to cut back on her solid food and keep giving your baby milk (formula or breast) at regular intervals. You can also try an oral re-hydration solution after getting a go ahead from her doctor.
Finally moms, let’s never forget that every baby is different and the amount of food a baby should eat isn’t set in stone. The main thing is to follow your baby’s cues to decide how much of what she should eat, keep some room for flexibility, and let your baby chalk out her own meal plan!