Q: How do I boost my 5-month-old baby's appetite? Breastfeeding her is real a battle.

A: First, don't make feeding a struggle, or you run the risk of setting up a pattern of negativity around mealtimes that can be hard to break. Remember, not every baby eats the same amount and her needs will change as she grows. If your friends' kids are voracious eaters, or your older children ate more at this stage, try not to compare them to your baby.

Babies are born with an internal mechanism for knowing just how much they need to eat, and healthy babies won't allow themselves to starve. So as long as your baby seems happy and content, is not showing signs of dehydration (like not having a wet diaper for more than eight hours), and is growing at a pace that satisfies your pediatrician, her intake is probably fine. If you're still concerned, talk to your pediatrician, who can show you your child's growth chart and assure you that she's developing on track. The secret to making breastfeeding more pleasant might be as easy as switching the position you nurse in (even mid-feed). Or sometimes a simple change of scenery -- moving the rocking chair away from the window, say -- can help keep your baby focused on the task at hand.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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