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Infant Nutrition

One of the early decisions you will make is what and when to feed your growing baby.

The information below is a guide to what is good for your baby and what is not.

Feeding Your Newborn (0-6 Months)

While many professional groups concerned with the care of newborns advocate breastfeeding as best, this usually not possible with an adopted infant. However, your baby's nutritional and emotional needs will be met whether your baby is given breast milk or formula.

Formula or bottle-feeding requires organization and preparation, especially if you want to take your baby out. It is important to make sure that you have enough formula on hand and that bottles are clean and ready for use.

Here are a few key guidelines about formula feeding:
*Formula that has been mixed and left out of the refrigerator longer than 1 hour and any formula left in the bottle that a baby does not finish should be discarded. 
*Prepared bottles of formula should be stored in the refrigerator for no longer than 24 hours and should be carefully warmed just before feeding. 
*A bottle of formula should not be warmed in a microwave since the milk can develop "hot spots" that can burn your baby's mouth. 
*Many infants "spit up" a small amount after eating or during burping and may even vomit after feeding, but vomiting should not be a frequent occurrence. Vomiting after every feeding may be a sign of an allergy, digestive problem, reflux or other problem about which you should contact your health care provider.
*Formula contains vitamins for a baby, so supplements are usually not necessary. Iron-fortified formula is usually recommended for a baby's first year but your baby's health care provider may suggest non-iron formula if constipation becomes a problem and a soy formula if the baby show's allergy responses. For the first 4 to 6 months, formula will be the main source of nutrition for your child. Water, juice, and other foods are usually unnecessary during a baby's first 6 months.

Feeding Your Infant (6 Months and Up)

Before you start giving your baby solid food, you should always consult with your health care provider. The following is a brief summary of what is commonly recommended.

Your will typically start with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal like rice, mixing a teaspoon of the cereal with 4 to 5 teaspoons of formula. You should give this to your baby while the baby is sitting upright and not give this "mixture" in a bottle. This mixture is given to the baby once or twice a day using a small spoon.

As your baby matures and is able to swallow this liquidly mix you will begin slowly adding more cereal and you can give your baby control over a spoon while you use a second spoon to actually feed your baby. Soon your baby will start to feed themselves with their spoon.

Once you have checked with your health care provider you can start to add finely mashed fruits, vegetables and other new foods. Make sure to add new foods one at a time so you can check for possible allergy reactions. When your baby has reached the age of about 10-12 months, most babies can handle small portions of finely chopped finger foods like soft cheese, well-cooked pasta, and ground meat. After your child is about a year old, ground, mashed or diced versions of whatever you eat will be OK for your child.

The following are food cautions suggested by most baby health care providers:

* Cow's milk, eggs, citrus or honey should not be given to your child before their first birthday. After 1 year of age you may start give your baby homogenized whole cow's milk but 2%, low fat, or skim milk is not recommended until your child is 2-3 years old.

* Do not give the baby the bottle in bed and do not prop-up the bottle while feeding; always hold the bottle.

* Don't put cereal in the bottle and do not heat bottles in the microwave.

* Do not give your child peanuts, peanut butter, and any product containing peanuts, fish or shellfish before the age of 3.

* Avoid foods that could be a choking hazard such as whole grapes, hard candy, or large pieces of fruit or vegetables and no popcorn or sticky food that can form a lump, such as raisins.

* No home-prepared spinach, beets, turnips and collard greens.

* Avoid large amounts of sweet desserts, soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sugarcoated cereals, chips or candy.

Please remember to always consult with your health care provider and follow their advice when it comes to baby feeding and food.

Additional Areas of Interest

Child Nutrition Programs that offer information about, and access to, a more nutritious diet and free or low-cost food are available in every U.S. state. These Child Nutrition Assistance Programs typically include Child and Adult Care Food and Emergency Food Assistance Programs as well as the School Lunch, and School Breakfast and Summer Food Service Programs.

State Child Welfare Department can provide you with information about foster care, adoption and parenting.

State Department of Education in each state can give you information about special early intervention programs and about school nutrition programs.

Department of Health can provide more than "just" health information. They can also be a good source of information about nutrition programs and about programs that can help with parenting concerns.

Additional Information

The Child Care Nutrition Resource System provides information on preparing meals for children.

Gaining and Growing: Assuring Nutritional Care of Preterm Infants offers information about feeding premature and very low birth weight infants.

For additional information about infant nutrition and about breast and bottle feeding, please visit the website Pregnancy And Children. Please visit our home page to read about our commitment to assist you, pregnant women and birth parents.

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