Bibs and bottles, messy faces, spitting up, and food on the floor
are all part of feeding a baby. Yet it can also be a fun time with
you have never fed a baby, visit the parents prior to babysiting
and see how they do it. Put the baby in a safe place while you are
gathering everything you need. When feeding the baby, relax. A baby
can sense if you are nervous. Do not give the baby a food that is
different from what the parents have told you to feed her.
Make sure you ask the parents to show you where everything is and
how appliances work before they leave. Find the favorite bibs, plates,
cups, spoons, and bottles.
Many babies drink formula for their regular feeding. Never substitute
milk or formula without the parent's directions. On hot days, the
baby can be given water or juice between meals but ask for the parent's
Check with the parents to see if they warm the bottle. If so, ask
them how they do it. Some use microwave ovens, others use hot water
in a pan to heat it, and others give the bottle directly out of
the refrigerator. Also find out how much formula the baby will take
at each feeding.
If heating the formula, always check the temperature of the formula
before giving it to the baby. If you have used a microwave, always
shake the bottle to avoid hot spots. Shake the bottle so all formula
is an even temperature and drip a few drops on the inside of your
wrist. If it's comfortably warm (you can't feel cold or hot), it
should be okay for the baby.
Find a comfortable chair and hold the baby with his head supported
in your arm. His head needs to be higher than the rest of his body.
Relax and talk to him while he is eating. Tip the bottle to make
sure the nipple is always filled with liquid. This prevents air
from getting into the baby's stomach. If it seems the child is having
trouble sucking, loosen the lid slightly. If he seems to be drinking
too fast, tighten the lid a little.
sure to burp the baby during and after the feeding. This helps get
out the air that has built up in his stomach. Put a cloth diaper
or towel over your shoulder. Lift the baby against your shoulder
or sit the infant on your lap. Gently but firmly pat the infant's
back to get up the air bubbles. The infant may spit-up some formula.
That is okay, don't worry.
Feeding Solid Foods
Rice cereal is usually the first solid food that a baby eats. After
a baby can eat cereal, then she usually starts eating a fruit, fruit
juice, or a vegetable. Parents will introduce one new food at a time
to test for any allergies.
When baby is ready for food that takes more chewing, she might
eat cooked fruits and vegetables (mashed with a fork), dry cereals
and bread/crackers in one-bite pieces.
Hold baby in a sitting position or put her in a highchair. Use
a small, skinny spoon to fit the baby's mouth. Put a little food
on the spoon. Put the food toward the back of the baby's mouth The
baby may spit out the food. This is because he may not know how
to chew it. Give the baby another bite even if she spits out the
first bite. If the baby will not eat something, do not force him.
Wait and try feeding him the food later.
Older infants or toddlers will grab for the spoon. This is the
time that the child learns to feed himself. If a child can feed
himself, be prepared for a mess!
Before feeding a toddler, check with the parents to find out how
well the child can chew food and to learn what kind of foods the
child usually eats. Toddlers enjoy finger foods because they have
limited ability to use utensils. When you do give a toddler utensils,
make sure that the utensils are child size.
All children are messy eaters, and they spill often. Learning table
manners and how to use forks and spoons neatly takes time. Use child
size plastic cups, plates and bowls to prevent broken dishes.
can eat three meals a day plus healthy snacks in between so that
they eat every two or three hours. Make sure that all food is cut
into bite-size pieces for easy chewing. You will also want to make
sure that a toddler sits still while eating to prevent choking hazards.
Preschoolers and School-Age Children
Children differ in their needs for food and their feelings about
it. Some are hearty eaters, while others are very picky. Some children
always eat big meals; others eat small amounts often throughout
the day. Given the chance, most children do a good job of eating
the food they need.
Serve child-size portions that the child can finish before getting
too full. A good rule is one level tablespoon of food for each year
of age. For example, a three-year-old would get three tablespoons
each of several different healthy foods. If in doubt, always start
small, you can always give a second helping if he eats the first.
Do not force a child to eat if she does not seem hungry. A child
who is going through a time of slow growth or who has been inactive
or ill may not be hungry.
Be a good example. Children are great imitators, and they watch
what you do-so eat your carrots!
Be aware that even with your best efforts, there may be times when
the child just doesn't eat. This is not unusual for preschoolers
and school-age children. If it only happens from time to time, then
you need not worry.
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