Month by Month Breastfeeding Guide for Baby's First Year | Fit Pregnancy

Breastfeeding Guide For The Whole First Year

Nursing changes as your baby grows. Here’s how to adapt.

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Month 3:

I’m going back to my full-time job in a few weeks and want to keep breastfeeding. How do I handle pumping?

First off, alert your employer about your plans so that you can work together to find the best place for you to pump. “It will help things go more smoothly if you can figure out where and when you will pump before you actually get back to work,” Panchula says. You should have begun pumping when your baby was 3 weeks or 4 weeks old, both to get him used to taking a bottle and so you’ll have a supply of breast milk stored in the freezer. If you haven’t started, get going!

Since you’ll be returning to work full time, you’ll probably want to rent or buy a double electric pump because it expresses both breasts at once and therefore cuts down on pumping time. (For some great models, see “Nursing” in our Buyer's Guide) When you return to work, try to pump as often—and at about the same times—as your baby normally nurses.

Month 4:

I’d like to have an occasional glass of wine. How long do I need to wait after drinking before nursing my baby?

In general, the alcohol from one drink—8 ounces of beer, 6 ounces of wine or one shot of hard alcohol—tends to be metabolized (and thus absent from your milk) within two to three hours, at which time it’s safe to nurse your baby. But a better guideline is this: As long as you’re feeling any effects from the alcohol, even if you are just a bit tipsy or giddy, don’t put your baby to the breast. Want to be even more sure? Try MilkScreen, a home test for alcohol in breast milk (milkscreen.com).

Month 5:

I’ve heard that breastfed babies usually take longer to sleep through the night. Should my son be doing this yet?

First, keep in mind that “sleeping through the night” at this age actually means five or six hours, not eight or nine. Second, every baby is different. Some will start sleeping through at 3 months old; others won’t until much later. “Babies sleep through the night when they’re ready, whether or not they’re breastfed,” Panchula says.

That said, because breast milk is digested so completely and more quickly than formula, breastfed babies do tend to eat—and therefore wake—more frequently than formula-fed babies. (Tip: Don’t look at the clock! Feed the baby whenever he’s hungry, day or night.)

Month 6:

My baby seems ready for solids. How and when should I introduce them?

“Breast milk still is the most important part of your baby’s diet at this age, so breastfeed right before you offer cereal or other foods,” says Debi Page Ferrarello, R.N., M.S., I.B.C.L.C., director of family education and lactation at Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

When you do offer solids, start with rice cereal and gradually add a cooked or mashed fruit or vegetable. (Many pediatricians believe it’s fine to start with a finely puréed fruit or vegetable, or even meat; check with your doc to see what she recommends.) Be sure to wait three to five days before introducing a different food so you can trace the cause of any allergic reaction.

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