Can you feed your baby cow's milk? How much caffeine can you drink whilst breastfeeding? Should you give your baby water?
These are just three of the most commonly Googled baby questions by new mums.
So to help you answer those questions and more, we've enlisted the help of Dr Sarah Brewer, who is a registered nutritionist and author of more than 60 health books.
1. How much caffeine can I have while breastfeeding?
Dr Brewer said: "It’s a good idea to have no more than 200mg to 300mg caffeine per day. This is, in fact, the average caffeine intake so for most breastfeeding mums there is no need to change their usual habits.
- 60ml espresso provides around 80mg caffeine
"Caffeine in breast milk may make some babies restless, so if your baby seems unsettled and you get more than 300mg caffeine per day, it’s worth cutting back to see if this helps."
2. How much wine can I drink while breastfeeding?
Dr Brewer said: "Alcohol does get into breast milk at concentrations similar to those in your blood stream. Research shows that when alcohol is in breast milk, babies drink around 20% less milk than when there is no alcohol present. Studies show that mums who drink alcohol decreases milk production. Your baby’s liver only eliminates alcohol at half the rate of an adult so the baby is affected for longer than you are. These are all reasons why the best advice is to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding. If you do have a drink, avoid breastfeeding until the alcohol is cleared from your milk – this is typically 2 to 3 hours for a glass of wine."
For more information on drinking during pregnancy, please see NHS Choices. And for more information on drinking during breastfeeding, head here. Additionally, if you want more information on drinking during pregnancy or when you’re breastfeeding- talk to your doctor or midwife.
3. What are some easy meals that taste nice cold? (for the parents!)
When you are looking after a newborn your own routine goes straight out of the window, not just with sleeping, but also with eating. Having time to prepare a nice meal and then to sit down and enjoy it hot are luxuries of the past! If you get the chance in your pregnancy pre-baby days, make as many freezable portion size meals as possible such as large casseroles and stews that can easily be warmed up in the microwave whenever needed.
Wholesome snacks are also your friend. Grazing on items like bananas, wholemeal bread, pasta salads, nuts and pre-cooked chicken, are all helpful to new mums.
Dr Brewer said: "Wholegrain cereals and milk are good sources of calcium, so a nice bowl of unsweetened muesli with the milk of your choice, with fresh fruit (e.g. banana, berries), dried fruit (e.g. apricots) is perfect. Full-fat Greek yogurt with acacia honey was one of my favourite meals, too. When I was breastfeeding my twins I was ravenous at night and my husband used to make me a cheese and pickle sandwich on granary bread. Heaven!"
4. What age should a baby start eating solid food?
Dr Sarah Brewer said: "Babies can get all the nutrients they need from breast milk until they are around six months old, so weaning onto solid food usually starts around the age of six months as this is when the digestive system is ready to start digesting purées and cereals added to milk. Different babies are ready at different times. Good signs that they are ready is when they can stay sitting with their head held steady, they can co-ordinate well enough to look at food, reach out to pick it up and put it in their mouth by themselves, and they can swallow food. If they aren’t ready to swallow, they will push the food out of their mouth with their tongue. Always stay with your baby while they are feeding in case they start to choke. There is good advice here."
5. Can I give my baby cow's milk?
Dr Brewer said: "You can start introducing full-fat cow's milk products when your baby starts weaning – not before the age of six months e.g. yoghurt, fromage frais, custard, cheese sauce.
Breast or formula milk should remain your baby’s main drink up until the age of one year, with water given as necessary during hot weather. Whole (full fat) cows’ milk can be given to an infant as a main drink after their first birthday, but semi-skimmed milk is not suitable until the age of two years as it does not supply enough energy."
6. What are the best yogurts for babies?
Dr Brewer said: "Full-fat whole-milk yogurts with as little sugar and artificial flavourings as possible. Select ones that are designed for weaning."
This Piccolo cherry and yogurt pouch is made with all natural ingredients and no added sugar. Plus they give 10% of their profits to food education in partnership with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).
7. Can a baby be raised vegan?
Dr Brewer said: "If you decide to raise your child on a plant-based diet, it’s important to get advice from the Vegetarian Society or Vegan Society, and to provide any necessary vitamin drops to prevent deficiencies. There is also information here.
The Department of Health recommends that all children aged six months to five years receive vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day, for example, whether vegan or not. It's also recommended that babies who are breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth."
8. Why is my baby’s poo dark green?
Dr Brewer said: "Babies poo starts off dark green (transitional stools) during the first few days of life, then change to yellow but can vary between yellowish and greenish. Mum’s diet can affect the colour – if mum eats lots of green coloured foods or food/drinks with green colouring for example, it can affect babies’ poo. In most cases, green poop is nothing to worry about if your baby is healthy and thriving and putting on weight. If they seem unwell however, are not feeding properly and not gaining weight, have diarrhoea or constipation, seek advice from your health visitor or doctor."
9. How much should I feed my baby?
Dr Brewer said: "This will depend on your baby’s age and weight, and all babies differ. Those who are under 6 months and are receiving breast milk or formula are usually fed in response to the baby’s needs. You will know when they are hungry! Some mums prefer to get into a routine and feed at set times – it depends what suits you and your baby best, once you start weaning."
10. When can I start to give my child water to drink?
Dr Brewer said: "Breastfed babies don’t need water until they start weaning. Those receiving formula may need extra water in hot weather – if you are unsure ask your health visitor for advice. You can usually introduce water via a feeding cup from around the age of six months, offering sips of water at mealtimes. Use an open cup or one with a free-flow lid rather than a valve so your baby learns to sip properly – these are better for their teeth, too."