Nutrition to Support Healthy Growth | 7
In the first six months of life, healthy babies get all the water for their
daily needs from breast milk or formula, even when their environment is
very warm. Unless a physician gives specific recommendations for extra
water, do not feed water to babies, and do not dilute breast milk or for-
mula with extra water. After six months, water may be given from a cup
if the infant is thirsty.
Feedings Should Nurture as Well as Nourish
The amount of food a baby eats is ultimately up to her, based on her
internal hunger. Babies have different reactions to hunger. As a general
rule, you can tell a baby needs to be fed when she becomes restless, sucks
on her fingers or fist, or cries. Some parents and caregivers try to stretch
the time between feedings to establish a convenient schedule, but this is
It is important to give babies enough formula or breast milk (and
semisolid food for older babies) to satisfy their hunger. Even if they are
“chubby,” underfeeding or restricting food is not appropriate for infants.
On the other hand, feeding should stop when the baby is full. Do not
coax a child to finish a bottle or serving of food, even if it seems wasteful
not to. Babies show you they are full by spitting out or pushing the nipple
away, pursing their lips together, turning away, or refusing to suck.
Hold infants in a partially upright position during bottle feedings.
Gently burp young infants when they pause after a few minutes of suck-
ing. Older babies who can sit up may hold their own bottles while sitting
in a high chair, but this is also a good time for them to learn to drink from
a cup. To reduce the risk of choking, babies should not carry their bottles
with them when they crawl or walk around. Additionally, babies should
not have bottles with them when they are put down for a nap. A form of
dental caries known as baby bottle tooth decay can occur when a baby
routinely goes to sleep with a bottle of breast milk, formula, or sweet
liquid. The sugar in these liquids causes bacteria to grow rapidly and pro-
duce acid that wears away the hard surface on a baby’s new teeth.