Pregnancy and Beyond

Breast milk is the only food your baby needs during the first 4 months. Not only does breast milk contain an ideal balance of nutrients for your baby, but it also contains many components that can help protect your baby from illnesses.

When a mother chooses not to breastfeed, or is unable to breastfeed, iron-fortified infant formulas are the best substitute. Your health care provider may prescribe additional vitamins or minerals if needed. Cow's milk should not be given to babies until they are at least 1 year of age. Healthy newborns need little or no supplemental water.

Babies are not ready for solid foods (baby foods) until 4 to 6 months of age. Before you start using baby foods, talk to your health care provider. You can keep track of your provider's recommendations for feeding in your baby's health record or baby book.

Many women continue to breastfeed even when they are working full-time. This takes some planning, but the rewards are worth the effort. Ideally, breast milk should be your baby's only food for at least the first 4 to 6 weeks. This helps to get your milk supply well established. Then, bottles of your breast milk or infant formula can be used for feedings when you are away from your baby.

Whether you breast or bottle feed, feeding times will be more enjoyable and rewarding when you relax and hold your baby. If you have any questions or concerns about how your baby is feeding during the early months, check with your health care provider for advice.