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HiPP's Baby & Nutrition Blog

Night-time milk feeds

Posted on 22 March 2011 by Helen

Hi Everyone!

I've just come off a call from the mother of a 11 month old baby who keeps waking up at night wanting milk. She wanted to know what she should do.

The first thing I did was to reassure her that this is quite a common problem and she's not alone. Babies often wake up a number of times throughout the night. Their crying might make you think they are hungry and needing a feed, but most babies don't need night time feeds after the age of about 6-8 months from a nutritional point of view. They should be getting enough energy and nutrition from their milk and foods during their day to meet their requirements.

The aim is to get them to fall back to sleep again without needing the cue of being fed first. Although it may seem much easier to feed them than trying to work out another way of settling them (especially if they are breastfed), feeding your baby during the night won't help them sleep better; in fact, it may prolong the problem and make it worse.

When they wake during the night, you should make sure they are comfortable and then try to settle them in a way that suits you and your baby. There are various things you might want to try –

  • Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it whenever possible. If your baby wakes at night, try to be consistent at these times too
  • If your baby wakes up at night, give them a few minutes to settle themselves before going to them. If they keep crying, talk to and comfort them, but don't pick them up, take them to your bed, or feed them. If absolutely necessary, offer a drink of water, not milk.
  • Let them find their own way back to sleep using self-comforting techniques such as thumb sucking, cuddling a soft toy or comfort blanket.

I know it probably sounds easier said than done, but it usually works if you stick with it. You can find more advice and tips on helping your baby get a good night's sleep on the HiPP Baby Club.

Until next time...

Helen

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Dairy for babies

Posted on 4 March 2011 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

Recently I have been asked by confused mums why, even though their health visitor has told them to avoid giving dairy products until baby is at least 6 months, there are baby food jars labelled as suitable from 4 months when they contain cow’s milk and cheese. Also, if cow’s milk isn’t suitable as a drink until a year of age, is it really safe for inclusion in weaning foods anyway?

Of course, weaning shouldn’t be started until baby is ready for solids, usually around 6 months and definitely not before 4 months of age. If baby is ready at 4 months, however, cow’s milk and other dairy products such as small amounts of cheese, yogurt, fromage frais and milk-based dishes can be used in weaning foods from the start and there is no reason to suggest otherwise. The foods that you should avoid giving before 6 months are shown at the link below:

http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Weaningfirststeps.aspx

Previously, concerns about including these ingredients in weaning foods were based on their potential to cause allergic reactions. However, recent statements by the British Dietetic Association Paediatric Group and other specialists in Europe and the United States have highlighted that current evidence indicates that there is in fact no need to delay the introduction of certain potentially allergenic foods e.g. milk, cheese, yogurts, egg, fish, wheat, gluten, until a certain age as doing so will not reduce the likelihood of allergies developing.

Remember that cow’s milk shouldn’t be given as baby’s main drink until 1 year of age as it doesn’t contain enough iron and other nutrients to meet baby’s needs. Breast milk or an infant or follow on formula should be given up until this age. Toddlers can be introduced to cow’s milk from year as they should be able to get enough iron from other foods in the diet, but if you are concerned about their intake of iron from foods then continued use of formula or introduction of a Growing up Milk can be very reassuring.

Bye for now.
Helen

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How much food should my baby be eating?

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Helen

Hi everyone,

Well, this is an interesting question but as every baby is different there is no standard answer, whatever their age, so if you are wondering if your baby is getting enough foods I might not be able to set your mind at rest here I’m afraid :-(.  However, there are some basic pointers we can use to work out how much food your little one should be eating and I hope you find these useful.

  • Between 4-6 months of age, most babies can be satisfied by milk alone without the need for solid foods until 6 months. 
  • However, there are others who seem to need some solid foods before 6 months as milk alone doesn’t seem to satisfy them.  Remember that even in these cases milk still provides most of the nourishment baby needs and usually only a few teaspoonfuls of food are needed at any mealtime.  Of course, you can increase the amount of food gradually as baby gets used to it and seems to want more, but make sure they keep their milk intake at more-or-less the same level (babies at 4-5 months usually need about 900ml milk per day).
  • From 6 months of age, the situation is a bit different.  All babies will need to include a variety of different foods in their diets, including foods with a higher energy density than milk, to make sure their nutritional requirements are being met.   As the amount of food given increases, at one then two and then three mealtimes, you will find that baby needs less milk to satisfy him/her.  Once baby is on 3 reasonable meals a day, the volume of milk needed falls to about 600ml per day and you can usually cut out a milk feed or two.  Offer other drinks instead e.g. water or diluted fruit juice, to ensure baby gets enough fluids.
  • For quantities of foods, the best advice I can give is to be guided by your baby’s appetite.  Don’t worry about giving your baby too much food – they will normally turn their heads and refuse to open their mouths when they are full.
  • At the end of the day, as long as your baby is well and wetting and soiling his nappies regularly and is putting on weight steadily, it is likely that you are doing everything you need to do.

Does this help?  Let me know.

Helen

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When should I start reducing the amount of milk that my baby takes?

Posted on 19 January 2011 by Helen

Hi everyone,

I often get asked 'when should I start reducing the amount of milk that my baby takes? I have just started weaning him and am confused as to when one of his bottle feeds should be dropped.'

It is quite common for parents to be concerned and confused about this as the last thing they want to do is leave their babies short of energy and important nutrients during weaning, yet they don't want to be overfeeding them either. Weaning can be a bit of a hit and miss affair until both of you have established a routine, and babies will often eat more on some days than others for no apparent reason, so their milk intake can fluctuate quite a lot.

So, I encourage parents to be as relaxed and flexible about this as possible and to follow a few basic principles -

  • At the start of weaning, continue to give your baby's usual milk feeds at mealtimes, preferably after you have given them food. The quantities of food eaten at this stage are small and your baby still relies on milk to meet all his nutritional needs.
  • Usually at around 6-7 months, or once your baby has got used to eating solid foods at 3 mealtimes each day, try dropping one of his milk feeds (at lunchtime, say) and offer water or diluted fruit juice in a feeding beaker instead at that mealtime. Often babies show you themselves that they don’t need milk at a mealtime by gradually taking less as they start to eat more; this is a good time to drop this feed, but remember to offer another drink instead to make sure your baby doesn’t get thirsty.
  • Throughout weaning and up to the age of 1 year your baby still needs plenty of breast milk or formula each day, usually with a milk feed morning and evening and other feeds in between as required.  The exact amount will depend on how much solid food your baby eats and you should let your baby decide how much milk he has. As a rough guide, formula fed babies will need about 500-600ml (1 pint) formula per day once weaning is established. 

Hope this helps!

Bye for now,

Helen

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The right age to wean a baby?

Posted on 14 January 2011 by Helen

Hi Everyone,

There’s been a lot of media coverage today about the best age to start weaning babies, with the question being raised whether current weaning advice to start at 6 months of age is appropriate for all babies. So what is the right age?

Although breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best way of feeding a baby for the first few months of life, the research team of highly respected paediatricians in the UK who have today published their report in the British Medical Journal believe that exclusive breastfeeding for the whole of the first 6 months of life might not be the best for all babies.  From reviewing the latest evidence they believe this may increase the risk of food allergies and iron deficiency anaemia in some babies and that they would benefit from earlier weaning, sometime between 4-6 months of age.  Recent reports from the European Food Safety Authority (2009) and the British Dietetic Association (2010) also acknowledge that some babies might be ready for weaning before 6 months and that it is safe to do so between four to six months.

The UK research team were keen to point out that they support the World Health Organisation’s advice for exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months for babies in developing countries where the circumstances are quite different to the UK, but from their review of the evidence accumulated since the publication of the WHO’s advice in 2001 they believe the official advice for the UK should now be revisited.

Other professional bodies and charities like the NCT are, however, standing by the current advice, whilst the Department of Health’s nutrition committee is due to report on infant feeding later this year. So it looks like the debate will continue for some time to come!

Lots of mums complain to me about the amount of conflicting advice they receive about infant feeding and I guess this latest media flurry isn’t going to help them one little bit. But, as always, I would advise that you discuss weaning with your health visitor and then choose the best age for your baby with them. Each baby is different and it’s foolish to think that weaning at exactly the same age is going to suit all babies, but what is important is that the powers-that-be look at the best evidence and come up with the best advice for babies to ensure they achieve optimal growth and development. Nobody can dispute that surely?!

Until next time....
Helen

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