Buyer’s Guide – Babies & Infants Feeding

feeding2As a parent you are responsible for ensuring that your child is offered healthy foods that are age appropriate.

Infants under four-to-six months only need breast milk or baby formula.  Babies know how much and when they want to eat, and if you pay attention, you can respond to their cues to make the feeding process easier.

From birth there are many products that can make the feeding process less cumbersome, as well as help you provide nutrition for your child.

Following is a list of items within this category:

  • Baby Bottles and Accessories: Baby bottles are necessary for formula feeding and come in a variety of styles.  There are bottles that are reusable with straight or angled necks (to reduce the amount of air the baby swallows).  Disposable bottle systems include a shell that holds disposable bags causing them to be somewhat easier to clean.  Other bottles have internal vent systems that replicate breastfeeding in order to reduce air bubbles – many times used for babies showing signs of colic.  Accessories for baby bottles include bottle warmers to get formula to room temperature before feeding it to baby, carrying cases and coolers, and baby bottle brushes.  You’ll also find storage and sterilization accessories that may be of help in the fast cleanup and decrease of clutter.
  • Baby Formula: The FDA requires manufacturers to meet very strict standards in the making of baby formula to ensure it is safe and nutritional for its consumers.  These formulas are liquids or reconstituted powders that serve as substitutes to human milk.  Be sure to look at the expiration date of formula and always discard any formula that has expired.  Three basic types of formula are powdered (easy to store and cost efficient), concentrated (allowing quicker preparation and some cost savings), and ready-to-serve (maximum convenience).  Additionally, formula is either milk-based or soy-based.  Be sure to consult your pediatrician to determine the best formula for your baby.
  • Breastfeeding Supplies: Breastfeeding can be tiring for new moms – so, in order to make life a bit easier, there are some great breastfeeding products that can be a help.  Items such as breastfeeding pillows (to hold your baby in the appropriate position), stools (to prop your feet while feeding), rockers/gliders, nursing bras, and nursing clothing can help to provide additional comfort and convenience during feeding time.  Additionally, products such as breast pads (to absorb leakage), lanolin (to soothe tender nipples), and nipple shields (to allow air to circulate) will allow mothers to be more relaxed during feeding as well as throughout the day.
  • Breastpumps: Breastfeeding moms like to be able to express milk for future feedings should they need to be away from their child for any length of time or to would like to let dad participate in the feeding responsibility.  There are a variety of pumps on the market such as the following:
  • Manual:  Low cost solution for occasional pumping
  • Electric:  More powerful and able to simulate your baby’s natural sucking to allow for more milk to be expressed in a shorter period of time
  • Double Electric:  Similar to electric, however allow you to express both breasts at one time

In addition to a pump, you will want accessories such as bottles, milk storage system (including freezer bags), carrying cases and a car adapter to make it easy to keep your baby on a breast feeding diet.

  • Food & Grinders: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the introduction of solid foods to a baby between four and six months – generally when the baby shows interest in eating by watching and leaning forward and opening his or her mouth while you eat.  Start with an iron-fortified cereal, then introduce fruits, vegetables, and meats into your baby’s diet one at a time – this way, you can determine if there are any allergies or intolerances to any individual foods.  Most baby food brands do not have added sugar, starch or sodium.  Some brands also offer an organic variety. Should you choose to provide your baby with homemade food, you will find grinders to be a useful tool.  These mills allow you to pitch in any foods and crank out the baby food.  They are easy to take along and usually not too difficult to clean.
  • High Chairs: High chairs make meal times easier and are needed around six months of age.  They may be made out of wood, metal, plastic, or a combination of any of these.  When reviewing high chairs, pay attention to stability, safe security restraint belts, sharp edges, easy wipe-up tray, adjustability, wheels, and ability to recline.  Safety standards are upheld by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association, so be sure that the product you select has passed the tests (look for a JPMA logo).  Also, as with any product, send in your product registration card so that you are made aware should the product be recalled for any reason.
  • Booster Seats: When your baby is walking and has outgrown the high chair, graduate him or her to a booster seat.  This allows them to sit up at the table with you and feel like part of the family.
  • Dishes, Cups, and Utensils: There are multiple options for serving your baby food.  Feeding bowls sometimes have a suction-cup base to keep your child from overturning the bowl, and, they almost always are dishwasher and microwave safe.  Training cups provide your child with the opportunity to transition from drinking out of a bottle to a cup – they are spill-proof and have a handle that is easy to grip.  Spill-proof or “sippie” cups feature a design that allows liquid to only flow through the opening only when your child takes a sip.  Utensils, including soft-bite spoons have a long handle that allows for better control and allows baby to bite without any harm.  Some spoons even change colors based on the temperature of the food to let you know if the food is too hot.
  • Bibs/Burp Cloths: Stock up on bibs as mealtimes can be a messy ordeal.  Feeder bibs for babies are easy to wash and can absorb a lot of the mess.  Cover style bibs are great for toddlers as they’re long enough to protect most of their body while seated.  These are generally made from absorbent material or waterproof vinyl.  Burp cloths are useful throughout the entire feeding process – think of them as a rag that you always have on-hand!
  • Pacifiers: Some babies aren’t interested in pacifiers, however, those that are may be particular about the type they do like.  Most new pacifiers are one-piece and are made of molded silicone or latex.  Either type is fine, however, silicone is not as soft in your baby’s mouth.  Latex is softer, but it doesn’t hold up as well to cleanings and teeth can chew through it.  With this in mind, always be sure the nipple is firmly attached to the base.  Orthodontic pacifiers have been created to prevent tooth issues later in a baby’s life, however, if your baby prefers the traditional variety, use whatever works.  Pacifiers have been found to increase bite problems so be sure to limit the amount of time your baby spends with one.  Also, never tie a pacifier on a baby’s neck – they do get lost often, so always have back-ups on hand.