A newborn requires 24/7 care and a lot of attention to feeding. Besides giving your baby nutrients necessary for healthy growth, feeding time is also a great opportunity to bond with your little one. If you’re nervous about feeding, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Breast or bottle
This is a forever-dilemma. If you have enough milk, it’s best to opt for breastfeeding up until your baby is at least 6 months. After they start eating other things, you can still breastfeed your baby occasionally through the first year and after (if you want). If breastfeeding is not possible for you (due to your health, lifestyle or anatomy) you can choose to bottle feed. In some cases, it’s much recommended to switch to the bottle to make things easier for the baby and the mom. All in all, make sure to consult with your health care provider and ask for their advice and opinion on how to feed the baby. All in all, if you’re worried about meeting the baby’s nutritional and emotional needs, you can stop right there—they will be met no matter if you choose breastfeeding or formula.
When to feed your baby?
In the beginning, babies want to eat all the time, between 8 and 12 times a day. A good rule to rely on is to give the baby a chance to feed 10 to 15 minutes on each breast, and from there, you can adjust your times and positions. If you’re feeding your baby formula, expect them to eat between 2 and 3 ounces every 2 to 4 hours. Feeding the baby is an on-demand process (whenever they want to eat), so generally every 1 to 3 hours, but definitely not more than 4 or 5 hours. As time passes, babies will eat less often.
How to know my baby is hungry?
Babies are surprisingly expressive and here are some signs of hunger to keep in mind: the baby is moving their head from side to side, opening their mouth and sticking out the tongue; they are sucking on their fists; puckering their lips; pushing the breast with their head and mouth; crying, etc. If you need more tips on feeding your newborn baby and recognizing subtle signs of hunger, you can consult with other moms and seek their advice. Parenthood apps and groups are full of great tips that will come in handy today, tomorrow or in a few years.
How to latch on
Latching on the breast is pushed by instinct, but it also takes some practice on both sides, by the baby and by the mom. The importance of good attachment is immense and it can help better feeding as well as healthy and pain-free nipples. To get your baby to latch properly, lay them in line with the nipple (nose and nipple align). The top lip should brush against your nipple which will prompt your baby to open their mouth and grab the nipple. As the baby feeds, the proper position usually allows you to see the dark nipple skin above the baby’s top lip, but not so much below. Another good sign is full and round cheeks.
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How to make a bottle
When making a bottle, it’s important to follow the instructions on the formula. Also, make sure to sterilize everything during the first year of your baby’s life. When feeding, follow the advice above—the principle is more-less the same. Make sure to give your baby plenty of time and peace to feed since this should be the most enjoyable activity for the little one and the parents.
Overfeeding—possible or not?
If you think that your baby is feeding all the time, don’t worry, since it’s almost impossible to overfeed the baby. Babies will also want to feed more at night because this is when more milk is produced. With time, your baby will want to feed less and less due to their slower growth and more experience with latching and sucking.
During the first 3 or 4 months of your baby’s life, they can develop something called ‘cluster feeding’. This phenomenon involves the baby’s need to eat all the time over a certain period of time. This is a normal thing, and it usually means they are going through an intense period of growth. Cluster feeding usually goes away after a few days.
Burping the baby
We all know about the importance of burping the baby to push the air out of the stomach and boost the comfort after feeding. To motivate a burp, place your baby against your shoulder, keep them upright and gently rub their back—the trapped air will get out. Sometimes, a bit of milk also goes out which is called regurgitation, posseting or reflux, and it’s also normal.
These are all the basics of feeding your baby, but surely you will have more questions as you go. Your doctor is always happy to answer any questions, and many answers you will stumble on yourself with experience. Good luck to you and your little one!