A baby feeding pattern is the routine in which an infant chooses to eat.
The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, and the Surgeon General recommend that all babies be breastfed to give them the healthiest start possible. No matter how you choose to feed your baby, breast milk or formula should be the only foods offered to infants for the first six months of life.
It is normal for an infant to eat every 1 to 4 hours. Breast fed babies may eat more frequently because breast milk is more easily digested than formula. Sometimes babies will follow normal feeding patterns, but it is important not to force an infant to eat on a strict schedule. Letting a baby to choose when he or she eats allows for self-regulation and healthy weight gain.
Many mothers worry their baby is not getting enough to eat. The best way to know your baby is getting enough milk is to count his wet diapers. Babies should have 6 or more wet diapers every day. Your baby should also be gaining weight when you take him to the doctor’s office. It is normal for a baby to regain his birth weight in the first two weeks and gain up to an ounce a day for the first four months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting solid foods between the ages 6 and 12 months. Even when solid foods are introduced, most of the baby’s calories should be from breast milk or formula for the first year. No baby should be given whole cow’s milk until she is over 1 year old. After 6 months, it is considered safe to give infants baby cereals and strained or blended baby foods. New foods should be introduced one at a time. This allows you to see any allergic response in your baby. Begin with pureed foods and move gradually toward solids.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (March 1, 2012) Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics Vol. 129 (No. 3) pp. e827 -e841
- Lawrence R.A., & Lawrence R.M. (2005). Breastfeeding: A guide for the Medical professional: Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier.
Last reviewed by Mikael Meyer BSN, IBCLC, Lactation Consultant for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.