Feeding and nutrition for your newborn baby
From birth to 4 to 6 months of age your baby 's only source of nutrition should be breast milk or milk formula. In some cases your pediatrician may recommend some exceptions. For example, a baby that spits up too much may be given rice cereal. In the first few months of life, babies are not yet ready to feed on baby foods. This is nature's decision. Babies do not have teeth until at least several months of age, and will lack the ability to chew until even later. Babies can use their palate and gums after six months of age to mash soft foods in their mouths. Human babies, like other mammals, need only milk to survive and thrive in the first six months. Breast milk and milk formula provide every vitamin and nutrient necessary for your baby. The only possible exception to this is the addition of supplemental vitamin D for babies who are breast fed. You can discuss this with your doctor.
How often should I feed my newborn?
In the first month of life feedings should be offered at least every 3 hours (day and night) . Some babies will drink smaller amounts more frequently. A baby less than one month of age who has not fed in 4 hours should be checked and offered milk.
How much should my baby drink?
If your baby is bottle fed or you use breast milk that has been pumped, you can easily measure the volume your baby drinks. In the first month of life, babies are expected to take between 2 to 3 ounces every 3 hours. Some babies will take slightly more or slightly less.
Breast fed infants should feed at least 5 minutes per breast for a total feeding time of at least 10 minutes. Some babies will feed for 30 minutes or more.It is more difficult to know how much milk a breastfed baby has taken, however some strategies are listed below:
- Monitor your baby's weight for adequate growth
- Using an accurate scale, measure your baby's weight before and after breastfeeding
- Look for breast milk around the baby's mouth while she is feeding
- Does the mother feel the sensation of milk letting down?
- Does milk leak from the opposite breast during breastfeeding?
- Your baby should have a wet diaper at least every 4 hours
- Does she feed vigorously?
- Do you hear the baby swallowing?
- Is your baby having dirty diapers?
- Is your baby active and alert before feeding?
- Does your baby seem satisfied after feeding?
- Does the mother feel that her breasts are less engorged after feeding?
How do I know my newborn is hungry?
The first sign that your baby is hungry will likely be the rooting reflex. The your baby will open her mouth and attempt to place her mouth on objects that rub against her cheek. She may try sucking on her fingers or thumb if her hand is nearby or she may try to suck on a blanket. If you rub your finger on her cheek, she will move her lips toward your finger and open her mouth. She will do the same if placed at the breast. Babies will also cry when they're hungry, however this is often a late sign of hunger. You'll likely learn her signals and no to feed her before she becomes upset.
What is cluster feeding?
There will be times when your baby will want to feed briefly but frequently. If your baby is bottle fed (for example), you may notice she takes only 1/2 ounce but then wants to feed again in 20 minutes... and this may occur eight times in a row. This is cluster feeding.
It is unlikely that your baby will follow a perfect feeding pattern. There will be times when she is fussy and difficult to feed. There will be other times when she feeds extremely well and is very content between feeds. This is normal. If you have any concerns talk to your doctor.
Last Updated (Thursday, 06 October 2011 19:47)