What new moms want to know about feeding a newborn

feeding your newbornYou’re home with your sweet bundle of joy and probably have more questions than answers. It won’t be long before you notice a trend – in those first few days and weeks it’s all about what’s going into the baby, and what’s coming out. We want to make sure your baby is healthy and gaining weight.  Here are some general guidelines to help you during those first days and weeks of feeding a newborn.

Breastfeeding your baby

Breastfeeding is a great source of nutrition for your baby, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity to bond with your newborn. We encourage moms to try breastfeeding. While some mothers and babies immediately get into a breastfeeding groove, most take a little more time and need some support to successfully breastfeed. Mott offers a Breastfeeding Support Clinic and lactation consultants to help. If you choose not to breastfeed or if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out, don’t worry, bottle feeding is also a great option.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?

The best way to monitor that is to track the number of wet diapers each day. For the first week of the baby’s life, he or she should have at least the same number of wet diapers as the number of days old he or she is. So, on day 1, he’d have at least one wet diaper and on day 2 he’d have at least two. By the time your baby is a week old, he or she will be having seven to eight wet diapers a day for the next several months. If your baby does not have enough wet diapers each day, contact your healthcare provider.

How often should I feed my baby?

Until your baby is back to his or her birth weight, you should be feeding him every one and a half to three hours. If you’re bottle feeding, give baby two to three ounces every two to three hours. Do not let your baby go longer than four hours between feedings (and, yes, that may mean you’ll have to wake up a sleeping baby). After your baby has shown consistent growth, you can stretch the time between feedings to include one five-hour stretch. Try to time this so it’s during the night. Encourage your baby to eat more during the day to help him learn that the daytime is for feeding.

Can I over-feed my baby?

It’s hard to over-feed a breastfed baby, but if you are using expressed milk from a bottle, it is possible. Babies typically stop eating when they are full. If baby routinely throws up after every feeding, you may be feeding her too much. Try to incorporate other soothing techniques besides feeding — try swaddling, rocking or a pacifier.

What should a breastfeeding mom be eating?

Breastfeeding moms don’t need to restrict or avoid foods. Just eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated. Strive to drink at least 64 ounces of non-caffeinated beverages each day. It’s a good idea to have a glass of water with you when you are nursing. There is no evidence that moms who eat peanuts can cause a peanut allergy in their breastfeeding baby, so there’s no need to restrict your consumption of nuts.

Some babies do have an intolerance to milk and soy proteins. If that happens, your baby will have persistent vomiting after eating and may have blood in his stools. There are hypoallergenic formulas that you can feed your baby if he or she has an intolerance. Your healthcare provider can help guide you through the process of finding a formula that works for your baby.

When should we start feeding baby something other than milk?

For the first six months of your baby’s life, he only needs breast milk or formula. Eating from a spoon, even very runny rice cereal, is challenging even at six months old. Eating from a spoon requires that the baby is neurologically developed enough to suppress the natural instinct to curl her tongue as she does when breast or bottle feeding. Babies do not need water either. Giving water to a baby under six months old is dangerous because it can easily upset the sodium levels in their tiny bodies.

Even with the advice from this article, and the advice you’ll no doubt receive from friends and family, you will probably have plenty of additional questions during your baby’s early weeks. Take advantage of the frequent check-ups your baby has at this age to ask your pediatrician about your questions and concerns. We are here to help!

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Ann Arbor PediatricianLauren Helms, MD, is a pediatrician with C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. She graduated from the University of Virginia School or Medicine where she also completed her residency in pediatrics. Dr. Helms sees patients at the Briarwood Center for Women, Children and Young Adults.



best children's hospitalsUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.