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Feeding Your Baby, Body and Soul

Meals are a chance to both nourish and nurture your child. What you put in the bottle is only the beginning.

All new parents have questions about feeding. For adoptive parents there is more to consider than just nutrition. Feeding is a powerful way to meet your child s need to survive and demonstrate that you love her and will always be there. Feeding offers you the opportunity to connect with your baby at a most basic level. Here are some guidelines to help you make the most of your mealtimes:

  • While feeding, hold your baby close, and turn her toward you, so you can see each other. Never leave your infant with a propped bottle; she will miss your comfort and warmth. Make eye contact. Sit face to face, whether during bottle, highchair, or table feeding.
  • If possible, continue with the formula and bottle your baby was using before he came to you. If a baby refuses a new formula, introduce it gradually by mixing it with the old formula. Introduce strained foods one at a time.
  • Babies who've lived in orphanages will often drink huge amounts of milk and eat a great deal of baby food in the first weeks or even months after adoption. It is very important to allow your child to eat as much as she desires, as often as she desires. She'll learn to stop eating once she trusts that there will always be food, that you will always provide what she needs.
  • Make frequent connections with your baby through your gaze, your smiles, and your praise. Talk to your baby, "Isn't that milk good? Is it warming your tummy?" To a toddler, you might say, "These carrots are so good, can you taste the sunshine in them?"
  • Some adopting mothers successfully breastfeed their newborns or older infants, usually supplementing their own breast milk with formula. Talk with a lactation consultant to decide if this option is right for you.
  • Many orphanage babies are fed through propped bottles, and, as a result, some have underdeveloped muscles for sucking, or swallowing. This is best remedied early with the help of an experienced pediatric feeding expert. Consult your early intervention team.
  • Respect your child's cues. Babies and toddlers often turn their heads, pull away, spit out their food, or begin to throw pieces of their meal on the floor when they want to take a break.
  • By Sarah Springer, M.D., JoAnne Solchany, R.N., Ph.D., and Marybeth Lambe, M.D.

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