Liz Denfeld | July 30, 2020

How to Feed a Newborn Baby

How to Feed Your Newborn Baby

Feeding your baby can seem somewhat daunting at first — How much do they need? How often should you feed them? What if you somehow mess it up? Well, we’re here to put your mind at ease and give you the basics on newborn feeding, whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding.

The first thing you should know is that at birth, your newborn’s stomach can only hold about one or two teaspoons. For those that choose to breastfeed, the first couple days you won’t actually be producing breastmilk; you’ll be producing colostrum, which is full of antibodies and immunoglobulins that protect babies. When your baby is a week old its stomach can then hold about two ounces. All this to say, it’s totally normal and okay for your baby not to be drinking or getting a ton of formula or milk in those early days. They will take what they need!

Another thing you should know is that it is very normal and common for a baby to lose weight in the first few days post-birth, especially after a c-section. Babies are typically born with extra water weight from being immersed in fluid prior to birth and (if you have a c-section) from all the IV fluids they pump into you prior to surgery. It’s normal for newborns to lose up to 10% of their birthweight during the first week. Any more than that could be cause for concern, so it’s a good thing to keep an eye on. Most babies will get back up to their birthweight within two weeks (give or take).

The question of how often you should feed your baby differs slightly depending on if you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. While breastfed and formula-fed babies typically need the same number of ounces of breastmilk or formula in a day (roughly 2.5-times their weight in pounds), a formula-fed baby will most likely go longer between feedings. This is because formula is digested slower than breastmilk. While there is a wide range of what is considered normal, a formula-fed newborn will typically drink two ounces of formula every three to four hours and work up to four ounces at each feeding by the end of the first month. Breastfeeding is a little trickier since it is hard to know how much baby is getting at each feeding. The general rule of thumb for breastfed babies is to feed on-demand, which usually ends up being every two to three hours (or 8-12 times a day). Regardless of how you are feeding your baby, remember that just like you, they most likely won’t take in the exact same amount of food at the exact same time (or on the exact same cadence).

One thing that surprises many parents is that even though babies aren’t taking in a large amount of liquid, it isn’t atypical for it to take a breastfed newborn 45 minutes to an hour to finish a feeding. The good news is, as your baby grows he/she will become much more efficient, eventually taking in about 90 percent of the milk they need within the first 10 minutes of nursing.

Something to keep in mind is it is never a good idea to let your baby drink from a bottle while lying down flat because it can cause ear infections and be especially problematic for babies who experience reflux. Sitting upright for a feed is important for babies because it helps reduce their likeliness of spitting up during feeding. A nursing pillow like the Itzy Ritzy Milk Boss can help keep baby in the perfect upright position for feeding. No matter how you are feeding your baby, the fact is you will be spending a lot of time either breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Milk Boss can help there, too, by helping you position baby in a way that’s comfortable for both of you. Plus, it can be used as a rest to burp baby after feeding. Win-win!

Just like anything else, how, when and the amount which you feed your little one will soon become second nature with a little time and practice. We hope these tips helped guide you and give you confidence. You got this mama!