During the first few months of life, allow babies to eat when hungry. Infants have small tummies and can only hold small amounts of food at one time. But with high nutrition needs, they require frequent refilling. Only your little one knows when they're hungry, and they will make sure you know when it's time to eat. As he grows, you'll notice he can go longer between feedings and that's when you want to establish a feeding schedule:
Feeding schedules serve a purpose
Feeding schedules make life easier for caregivers so they can plan meal preparation.Ultimately, scheduled meals are nutritionally superior. Kids who eat at set meal and snack times are slimmer and do better nutritionally than those who don't.
Schedules work for older children
Older infants, toddlers and young children thrive on meal and snack schedules. It is a security that assures them that they will be fed, and they can count on those times to get food. That security allows them to tolerate healthy hunger better.
Getting acquainted scheduled feeding times
As soon as your baby can sit unsupported in a high chair, have them join you at the table for meals. This introduces the concept of 'meal times' although your baby may not fully understand the purpose.
When to start with a schedule
From a logical standpoint, a good way to begin a schedule is when you want to start introducing solids.
Serve solid foods during family mealtimes. If the whole family is not sitting down to eat together, offer solid foods at times you would like to establish as 'meal time' for your baby. For example, you may want to offer the first taste of baby cereal at 'breakfast' time. Earth's Best Organic Brown Rice Cereal is a great starter solid food.
If your baby gets hungry before the scheduled "meal time", offer a small snack that will take the edge off but maintain the appetite necessary to eat a full meal at the scheduled time. Earth's Best Teething Biscuits make a great snack for babies nine months and up that will occupy baby and curb hunger. This will help babies' systems adjust to new eating times without too much hunger.
Schedules tend to change and adapt as babies grow. Younger babies may need several meal and snack times. When they can eat more at each meal, you may be able to adjust meal times to allow for the elimination of one or more feedings.
For infants closer to 6 months old who are just transitioning to solids at mealtime, offer the breast milk or bottle first, then the solid foods. Initially, eating solids is just for the practice of eating them. As time passes, they will take more and more of a nutritional role.As you go from 6 months to 12 months, slowly begin to offer the solid foods first. Earth's Best makes baby foods ideal for mealtimes, such as Sweet Potato and Chicken Dinner. At mealtime serve formula or the transition beverage in a sippy cup and continue to offer breast milk or bottle after the meal, during snacks, or those early morning and late night cuddle times.
If you need guidance about when to offer certain solids, print and post Earth's Best Infant Feeding Schedule.
Your baby may hit a growth spurt while you're trying to establish a set "meal time". Be flexible and adjust feeding to facilitate their increased appetite.