Feeding Your Child: What, When, and Why

This article is sponsored by UnityPoint Health Des Moines.

feeding your child

New parents stress about lots of things, including how to feed their baby. From breastmilk and formula to baby food basics, Blank Children’s Hospital has got you covered!

Breastfeeding and Pumping

Many new moms choose to breastfeed their babies. Although it can feel challenging and overwhelming at first, the nursing staff on our maternity floors are there to help you get feeding your childstarted and are available 24 hours a day. In addition, we have Lactation Consultants available seven days a week to help you with everything from getting a good latch, how to know if your baby is eating enough, and choosing and using a breast pump.

There are many benefits to breastfeeding, including:

  • It leads to better health for you and your baby.
  • Your milk is made to support your baby’s immune and digestive systems, which means fewer ear infections, colds, less diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Your baby will be less likely to develop such conditions as obesity and diabetes.
  • You can feed and comfort your baby quickly, which can lead to less crying and a happier baby.
  • Breastfeeding may help you lose pregnancy weight sooner.
  • Breastfeeding helps reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re planning to breastfeed, be sure to check out our breastfeeding class and support group options on our website, and contact Lactation Services for answers to all your breastfeeding and pumping questions!


Whether you’re formula-feeding exclusively or just supplementing, it’s easy for new parents to quickly become overwhelmed. However, there’s no need to stress! In our feeding your childmaternity centers, we offer two brands of ready-to-feed formula: Similac and Enfamil. You are welcome to bring your own formula and bottles if you’d prefer.

Store-bought formula comes in three types:

  • Ready-to-feed
  • Powder
  • Liquid concentrate

When preparing a bottle of formula:

  • Be sure your hands, bottles, and bottle nipples have been washed well with soap and water.
  • For powder and liquid concentrate formula, follow the mixing instructions on the container. Adding too much water to the bottle can make your baby very sick.
  • Heat the bottle in a bowl of hot, running water or by holding the bottle under hot, running water. Never heat a bottle in the microwave. This can cause hot spots in the liquid that can burn your baby’s mouth.

For more information about feeding your baby with formula, check out our online class called Feeding Your Child.

Weaning and Transitioning to Baby Foods

The decision to wean your baby and transition to infant food is a personal one. Only feed your baby breastmilk or formula for the first six months of your baby’s life. Babies do not need to drink water because they get all their hydration needs from breastmilk or formula. Never feed your baby rice milk in their bottle, even if you’ve been told it helps him sleep longer at night. This is a myth! Rice cereal in a baby’s bottle can actually lead to choking and overeating.

Around six months, look for signs that your baby is ready to try infant foods. These signs include:

  • Holding her head steady.
  • Sitting with little support.
  • Reaching for and holding onto an object.
  • Opening her mouth for a spoon and closing their lips around it.
  • Swallowing without choking.

If you don’t see these signs, your baby isn’t ready!

When your baby is ready, try offering your baby a small about of infant food on the tip of a small spoon. He may not like it at first, and that’s ok! It may take several weeks of introducing infant foods before he gets used to eating them. Start with food that is high in iron, such as an iron-fortified infant cereal or pureed meat. Slowly add in new foods to your baby’s diet as he gets used to eating, adding no more than one new food per week to look for signs of allergies, including diarrhea, vomiting, a rash, wheezing, abdominal discomfort, or swelling of the skin and lips.

As you continue to add new foods to your baby’s diet, continue to feed your baby breastmilk or formula until he turns one. After his first birthday, you can try introducing whole cow’s milk. If you are breastfeeding, you can continue breastfeeding for as long as you and your baby would like. In fact, the nutritional content of breastmilk grows and changes to adapt to your growing baby’s nutritional needs from babyhood through toddlerhood and beyond!

For more information about weaning your baby from breastmilk, contact Lactation Services. For more information about introducing infant foods and solids, check out our online class called Feeding Your Child.

Connect with UnityPoint Health Des Moines



This post is part of a series of sponsored posts by UnityPoint Health Des Moines.

Fun Indoor Activities for Winter

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

A Mother’s Personal Story of Loss and Window Safety

Tips for Kids Wearing Face Masks



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here