Babies healthy eating habits

The first two years of life are a key period to establish healthy eating habits. This means teaching him to eat healthy foods and in the right amount, neither too much nor too little. Eating just what he requires will promote adequate growth while maintaining healthy body weight.

It may seem difficult to know how much he needs, after all, he is growing and changing every day and so his needs. The good news is your baby already knows how much he should eat! With a bit of practice, you can learn to read his signals.

While feeding at the breast, the baby has greater control over the time and duration of the feedings, he learns to recognize the signals of satiety and decides when to stop eating. Either to deliver breast milk or infant formula, bottle feeding is a very common practice nowadays. An adequate bottle-feeding can also support the natural learning of satiety that occurs during infancy. A caring interaction between the baby and the parent, as well as the choice of an adequate bottle, are very important to achieve this objective.

« it is important that your baby learns to stop eating when he is feeling satiated, this will help him maintain a healthy weight in the future”

Reading your baby’s signals

Your baby has many ways to communicate with you. Since he was born you’ve learned to differentiate when he is tired, when he is hungry or when he needs a diaper change. During his feeding time it is important to pay attention to the signals of hunger and satiety and act on them by initiating or stopping the feeding. This is called “responsive feeding” and it is key on determining the final amount that the bottle-fed baby drinks.

Every little one is different, and you will learn the signals of your baby. To help you start, here are some common cues of hunger and satiety

Hunger- means ˜start or continue with the feeding’

Baby-caregiver gaze

Adoption of feeding posture

Mouth opening

Sucking sounds

Reach toward the parent

Satiety- means ˜I had enough now’

Avoids gaze

Back arching

Spits out the nipple/ slow or stop sucking

Falls asleep/ distracted

Turns head away

« It is important that your baby learns to stop eating when he is feeling satiated, this will help him maintain a healthy weight in the future ”

The feeding system

The oral movements of the breast-fed and the bottle-fed baby are very similar. They consist in the jaw and tongue making suction (generation of negative pression in the mouth) and compression of the bottle nipple by the tongue against the hard palate. When drinking milk, the baby needs to synchronize suckling, swallowing and breathing. The nipple and bottle characteristics such as the material hardness, shape and hole size can affect the flow rate and total milk intake. A flow rate that is too slow leads to fatigue and inadequate intake and if it is too fast, it results in a greater milk volume delivered and the baby needs to adjust its suckling-breathing pattern. Signs of fast flow rate include milk drooling, breathing anomalies and can result in milk aspiration.

« The bottle and teat characteristics can affect milk flow rate and intake ”


References

Kotowski, J., C. Fowler, C. Hourigan and F. Orr (2020). “Bottle-feeding an infant feeding modality: An integrative literature review.” Maternal & Child Nutrition 16(2): e12939.

Lau, C. (2015). “Development of Suck and Swallow Mechanisms in Infants.” Annals of nutrition & metabolism 66 Suppl 5(0 5): 7-14.

Shloim, N., C. Vereijken, P. Blundell and M. M. Hetherington (2017). “Looking for cues – infant communication of hunger and satiation during milk feeding.” Appetite 108: 74-82