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Interpreting my baby's "language"

 

Until my baby starts to talk, it's hard to tell just through their smiles and crying whether or not they are full. Or still hungry for that matter. Can you give me any advice on how to interpret their behaviour?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

From birth and for several months, one question plagues the minds of all parents: has my baby had enough to eat? It's not always easy to find the answer when "all" your little one can do is gurgle, smile and cry. There are, nevertheless, certain typical external signs (the way they breastfeed, their stools, their growth rate, the frequency of their feeds, etc.) which indicate whether or not your baby is eating to "their fill". Here is an overview of the principal signs according to their age.

0 – 4 months

What should I be looking out for?

First question: Does your baby breastfeed frequently?
 

Your baby should be feeding between 8 and 12 times every 24 hours during the first month or two, then 6 to 8 times every 24 hours, or 5 to 7 bottles of around 90 ml each.
, During the first few months of a breastfeeding baby, they will produce, or average, at least 1 stool per feed, which will be grainy, soft and light yellow in colour, plus 5 or 6 wet nappies. From the second month onwards, they may produce one or two stools per day and at least 4 wet nappies. A baby who is not breastfed may produce around 2 stools/day which will be denser, "formed" and pale yellow or light brown in colour, but might vary in color and consistency from day to day

If your baby only cries a little, sleeps regularly and peacefully and can stay awake before or after having eaten, it likely means they are feeding adequately.  Their height and weight charts will show steady progress.

4 – 6 months

As your baby grows, so do their needs in terms of energy. They may therefore feed more over the course of a day. Appetite varies from one child to another, so here are some pointers in order to know whether or not your baby is getting enough:

  • Your baby breastfeeds 5 or 6 times/day or, andThey produce, on average,  at least 1 stool every 24 hours and several wet nappies per day.
  • They show signs of hunger and cry when they are hungry,  but manage to calm down. They may still wake up during the night, for a feeding, but not as often.
  • Their weight charts and height charts show steady progress. You can start to introduce baby cereals at this age.

 

What about their psychomotor development?
 

At this age, they might be able to grab objects of their own accord and try to put them in their mouth. They love making sounds with their voice.

6-8 months

They are starting to discover solid foods but still require a mainly breastmilk for their physical development. Here are some indications that they are eating properly:

  • They  may breastfeed 2-5 times/day and eat 2 meals/day + 1 light meal or snack
  • Their bowel movements are regular and they usually produce at least one stool/24 hours plus several wet nappies/day.

 

If you have any doubts, seek the advice of a health professional.
Is your baby still having problems eating with a spoon? Don't worry about it. Continue to introduce solids step by step and end each meal with milk if they just pick their food. Their weight and height charts continue to show steady progress.

What about their psychomotor development?
 

At this age they love trying to sit up, catch your hands if you hold them out and recognise facial expressions. Faces of people they don't know can frighten them.

8-12 months

In just twelve months, your baby will double their height and triple their weight! Whether they have a huge or tiny appetite, here are the main things to look out for:

  • Your baby breastfeeds 2-3 times a day and eats 2-3  meals  + one or two snacks.
  • They have regular bowel movements and usually produce at least one stool/24 hours as well as several wet nappies/day.
  • Their weight and height charts show steady progress.

 

What about their psychomotor development?
 

Their favourite game at this age is dropping things and watching you pick them up! They are also discovering the joys of being able to sit up and lie down to crawl and move around on all fours. They can point to things which interest them.

12 months and upwards

The newborn phase is over! Your baby is growing up, even if they still can't eat nearly as much as an adult. On average, your baby's diet at one year old consists of the following:

  • In the morning, your baby breastfeeds formula or cow’s milk.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner are part of each day’s meal pattern.
  • They may have a morning and an afternoon snack  Make the most of their increasing desire for independence to gradually introduce food in small pieces.
  • They usually produce at least 1 stool/24 hours and several wet nappies/day.

 

What about their psychomotor development?
 

Their sense of balance is getting better and better. They are increasingly dexterous with their hands. They can wave and make simple hand movements, hold their bottle and are starting to be able to pile up their cubes. They can stand while holding onto a piece of furniture and/or can move around quickly on all fours. They produce their first words, often mummy and/or daddy, which make you very happy!
Their weight and height charts show steady progress.

Does your child’s appetite vary from day to day? This is normal; they are moving around more and interested in everything and even starting to walk. Offer the right balance of fruit/vegetables/carbohydrates, protein and dairy products – and let them decide when they are hungry and full.

 

Opinion

A baby who is eating their fill:

• Drinks more or less the same quantity of the appropriate breast milk for their age and appetite every day,

• Adapts to solid foods without too much difficulty,

• Produces stools every day + several wet nappies,

• Sleeps peacefully all or part of the night and during naps,

• Shows psychomotor development in line with their age in months.

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