Babies Under Months

If she seems to be feeding for a long time at the breast or bottle, check she's not sucking just because she enjoys the sensation. Though the feeding time varies, 20 minutes at each breast should be enough. Try taking her off after this and see if she settles. She may also just be after a cuddle, so comfort her in a non-feeding position.

In formula-fed babies, check your baby's feed is diluted enough. Making each scoop over-generous can add quite a few more calories at every feed. Stick very closely to the feeding guidelines on the packet.

On the other hand, don't be tempted to over-dilute or substitute some drinks with water without taking medical advice. Even if your baby seems to be chubbier than others, she'll still need the fat and cholesterol provided by the recommended number of scoops.

WEANED BABIES Check you're cutting back on your baby's milk as you add more solids (but she should still have the equivalent dairy intake of 1 pint/600ml a day until she's 2).

Don't be tempted to put baby rice or pudding in a bottle, regardless of how runny and difficult it is to feed on a spoon! Gulping it as a drink will give a baby far more than is needed.

Offer plain water as an alternative drink to milk. If your baby seems to want something with a bit more flavour, such as juice, it's important to make sure it's well diluted.

TODDLERS Give food only at proper feed and snack times. Avoid offering food treats when she's hurt or grumpy, such as when she kicks up a fuss in the supermarket. Instead of quietenin her with a biscuit or sweet juice drink, give her a small toy or a big cuddle to distract her.

In rare cases it may be necessary to give lower-fat alternatives to some foods but, particularly in the case of milk, check with your GP as you may need to give vitamin supplements to replace lost nutrients.

With children of any age, it's important to get them moving. Confining a baby to a sling or an older toddler to a buggy for a lot of the time won't burn off calories and develop muscles. So get active!

TWO MUCH?

Feeding twins, whether breast or bottle, requires a bit of planning and dexterity. If you're breastfeeding, make sure you get enough calories to keep up with demand - between 400 to 500 extra a day. Bottlefeeding means that someone can help with feeding, but it's difficult to feed them both at the same time on your own. So timing is crucial to make sure they both get what they need. As twins are more likely to be premature, their weight gain may be slower and more erratic.

I can see my child's ribs, and his trousers always fall down. Does it mean he's underfed?

You may be someone who's always been able to eat what you wanted yet stayed a size 10, even when you were pregnant - lucky old you! Because a lot is determined by genetics, it's likely your baby has just inherited your 'skinny genes'.

As long as he's generally happy, energetic and gaining weight steadily (however little), there's usually nothing to worry about. PP

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