Be Prepared: Feeding Your Newborn 

A newborn’s feeding pattern can be unpredictable. Here’s what, when and how to feed your baby.

1. Stick with breast milk or formula: Breast milk is the ideal food for babies — with rare exceptions. If breast-feeding isn’t possible, use infant formula. Healthy newborns don’t need water, juice or other fluids.

2. Feed your newborn on cue: Most newborns need eight to 12 feedings a day — about one feeding every two to three hours. Look for early signs of readiness to feed or hunger, such as moving the hands to the mouth, sucking on fists and fingers, and lip smacking. Fussing and crying are later cues. The sooner you begin each feeding, the less likely you’ll need to sootheyour baby. 

3. Consider vitamin D supplements: Ask your baby’s doctor about vitamin D supplements for the baby, especially if you’re breast-feeding. Breast milk might not provide enough vitamin D, which helps your baby absorb nutrients essential for strong bones.

4. Expect variations in your newborn’s eating patterns: Your newborn won’t necessarily eat the same amount every day. During growth spurts — often at two to three weeks after birth and again at six weeks after birth — your newborn might take more at each feeding or want to be fed more often. 

5. Trust your instincts — and your baby’s: You might worry that your newborn isn’t eating enough, but babies usually know just how much they need. Don’t focus on how much, how often or how regularly your newborn eats. Instead, look for steady weight gain and contentment between feedings.

6. Consider each feeding a time to bond with your newborn: Hold your newborn close during each feeding. Use each feeding as an opportunity to build your newborn’s sense of security, trust and comfort.

7. Know when to ask for help: If you’re having trouble breast-feeding, ask a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor for help — especially if every feeding is painful or your baby isn’t gaining weight. 

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