Feeding a newborn infant is a round-the-clock commitment. It also an opportunity to begin forming a bond with your baby.
Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. If breast-feeding isn’t possible, use infant formula. Healthy newborns do not need water, juice or other fluids.
Feed your baby on demand, a rough guide being most newborns need 8 to 12 feeds a day. Look for early signs of hunger, such as stirring and stretching, sucking motions and lip movements. Fussing and crying are later cues. The sooner you begin each feed, the less likely you will need to soothe a frantic baby. When your baby stops sucking, closes their mouth, or turns away from the nipple or bottle, they might be full. Or simply taking a break. Try winding your baby or waiting a minute before offering the breast or bottle again.
As your baby gets older, they are able to take in more milk at each feed.
There are variations in babies’ feeding patterns and your baby won’t necessarily take the same amount every day. During growth spurts your baby might take more at each feed or want to be fed more frequently. Respond to signs of hunger rather than keeping a strict eye on the clock. The timing of growth spurts also varies but many babies experience these 2 to 3 weeks after birth and again at 6 weeks.
You might worry that your baby isn’t getting enough, but trust your instincts as babies usually know just how much they need. Don’t focus on how much, how often or how regularly your baby feeds.
Instead look for:
- Steady weight gain
- Contentment between feeds
- Plenty of wet and soiled nappies
Consider each feed a time to bond with your baby
Hold your baby close during each feed. Make eye-to-eye contact and speak with a gentle voice. Use this time as an opportunity to build your baby’s sense of security, trust and comfort.
Know when to ask for help
If you are having trouble breast-feeding, the midwives and health visitors at Simply Better Births are here to offer expert support on all aspects of infant feeding.