Common Age: Birth to 6 months
Almost every infant spits up, says Susan B. Roberts, PhD, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and author of Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health (Bantam). It usually happens because a baby's digestive system is still immature. An infant's esophageal sphincter -- the muscle that holds in the stomach contents -- doesn't close tightly like an older child's does. As a result, it's easy for a baby's most recent meal to splash back up, so be prepared to do a few extra loads of laundry from now on.
Usually, spit-up is nothing to worry about. If your baby is gaining the proper amount of weight and your pediatrician says he's thriving, then you know he's getting enough to eat. Another strong sign that your baby is well fed is six to 10 wet diapers per day. To reduce spit-up episodes, feed your baby only when he shows signs of hunger, keep him in a semi-upright position during feeding, and burp him regularly throughout the meal. It's also a good idea to sit him upright and minimize jostling for half an hour after feeding.
Occasionally, lots of spitting up is something more than just a nuisance. If a baby is not gaining weight, is crying excessively, is choking, or seems to be in a lot of pain, he may have a serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which your doctor can diagnose by charting your child's weight gain and overall symptoms. If your child does have GERD, your doctor may prescribe him an acid-reducing medication. Fortunately, GERD or not, most children outgrow spitting up between 6 months and 1 year of age.
Common Age: 4 to 12 months
When babies begin to discover the joy of solids, they may start to drink less and less formula or breast milk. This leaves parents confused about which is more important: the nutrients in the milk or in the food.
It's a dilemma many moms face. But despite the fact that your baby is graduating to solids, says Roberts, breast milk or formula is still a very important part of your baby's diet, particularly because milk fat is essential for brain development and the calcium helps build strong teeth and bones. That said, it is safe and healthy to slowly reduce the amount your baby drinks. When you look at how thriving babies split their intake, there is a wide range of normal; as long as your baby is growing normally while eating and drinking within these parameters, you have nothing to worry about.
So which should you give first, milk or solids? There are varying opinions, but experts recommend starting out with breast milk or formula, saving solids for a second course, and washing them down with more milk. The reason? If your baby is very hungry, he may be too distracted to concentrate on maneuvering solids in his mouth and may reject them.
Here are some guidelines to help you determine the proper daily ratio of milk to solids for your baby. Note: One medium jar of baby food usually contains 35 to 50 calories.
- Up to 100 calories of solids
- 50 to 150 minutes of nursing; 28 to 38 ounces of formula
- 200 to 300 calories of solids
- 40 to 120 minutes of nursing; 24 to 34 ounces of formula
- 300 to 500 calories of solids
- 10 to 90 minutes of nursing; 20 to 30 ounces of formula