Newborns Feeding

The biggest decision involved with newborn feeding is usually whether to breast-feed or formula-feed. While the feeding debate has gone on for a long while, in most cases, doctors and medical professionals advocate that breastfeeding is the healthiest and best choice for newborns.

Consult your doctor on the advantages of breastfeeding over formula feeding, as well as on a feeding schedule to follow. Your baby can be fed as often as he or she needs, but the number of feedings may in fact change daily, making it difficult to have a concrete feeding schedule.

Feeding Schedules and Frequency

In most cases, newborns will need 8 to 12 feedings a day, meaning they will need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. After 2 or 3 months, your baby may only need 6 to 8 feedings. Eventually, as you learn to read your baby better, you will know his or her feeding patterns and understand the signs (s)he makes when (s)he gets hungry. Signs of hunger include:

  • lip movements
  • stirring
  • stretching
  • sucking motions.

If you let these signs go, your baby may begin to fuss or cry. Try to feed your baby when the early signs appear to avoid an angry, hungry baby.

Another factor that can complicate feeding is the fact that your baby may not take in the same amount of breast milk or formula at each feeding. While a varying appetite isn’t cause for concern, make sure that you’re monitoring your baby’s weight gain and that (s)he seems satisfied after feeding.

Appropriate Food for Newborns

Newborns do not need sources of nutrition or liquids other than formula or breast milk for the first six months of their lives. Water, juice and any other substances are unnecessary and may even cause diarrhea if they are given to a baby too early in life. Your doctor will be able to tell you when it’s healthy to introduce other foods and liquids into your baby’s diet.

In this section, we’ll cover all aspects of feeding your newborn. We’ll discuss feeding schedules, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding versus formula feeding.

Breastfeeding

Although breastfeeding may not be the preferred feeding method for all mothers, in most cases, it is the healthiest option for the newborn. Breast milk is the perfect formula for a baby’s digestive system because it contains:

  • antibodies that protect babies against certain diseases and afflictions
  • essential fat
  • lactose
  • minerals
  • proteins (whey and casein)
  • vitamins.

While newborn formulas attempt to duplicate the nutrition within breast milk, none have been able to exactly reproduce it.

Along with providing babies with optimum nutrition, breast milk can also help prevent your child from having serious conditions later in life, including:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity.

Mothers too may find some advantages to breastfeeding, including that it burns calories and shrinks the uterus, helping a new mother get back to her pre-pregnancy size more quickly.

A further benefit of breastfeeding is that it is far less expensive than formula feeding. While mothers may need breast pumps and special shirts, the costs of these items will pale in comparison to the costs and inconvenience of constantly buying formula.

Mothers-to-be should talk to other mothers and their doctors about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Formula

While breastfeeding is considered the healthiest option for newborn feeding, formula feeding with a bottle can have its advantages as well. Feeding a newborn with formula lets mothers or anyone else feed babies in public. Additionally, formula takes a bit longer for a baby to digest, so formula-fed babies may need less feedings than breast-fed babies.

However, formula does have some associated disadvantages. In addition to the costs of formula, having to frequently prepare it can be taxing. If you do decide to feed your baby formula, be sure to carefully read and follow the directions on the bottle. Similarly, try to be well stocked with formula (so you baby doesn’t have to go hungry), and clean bottles thoroughly before filling them with formula for your baby.

Those who aren’t comfortable with breastfeeding should talk to their doctors about the use of baby formula.

Resources

Kids’ Health (2008). Feeding Your Newborn. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Kids’ Health Website.

Mayo Clinic (2008). Feeding Your Newborn: Remember the Basics. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Mayo Clinic Website.