It's normal for the parents of a newborn to worry about the feeding habits of their babies. You may often feel like you're either feeding your baby too much or too little, or too often or not often enough.
To reduce as much confusion as we can, here is a general schedule that most nutritionists agree on.
In the first day or so, your baby will probably only feed a couple of times in the day.
However, within the first week, the number of times your baby will want to feed will probably settle at around 8 times a day and about 60-120ml of milk. Newborns tend to take around 40 minutes for one feeding, while older babies become more efficient and take around 15-20 minutes. In the first month, demand feeding, which is feeding your baby whenever he/she wants it, is the best.
But how will I know whether or not my baby is hungry? Your baby will typically show some signs if he/she is hungry. This includes making sucking motions, exhibiting the rooting reflex, moving his/her head from side to side, and, if the hunger has been felt for a while, crying. The more your baby feeds, the more your body is stimulated to produce more milk. It's natural for your baby to want to feed more at night.
If your baby is losing weight, it is not necessary that the reason for the weight loss is insufficient feeding. It's natural for babies to lose approximately 10% of their their baby weight in the first few days after birth. However, after a few days, they should start gaining weight.
Babies in this age group generally feed around every 2-3 hours and have about 120-210ml of milk everyday. This is in the case of breastfed babies. In the case of formula-fed babies, they tend to drink 120-150ml milk from 1-3 months, every 2-3 hours, and approximately 150-210ml every 2.5-3.5 hours from 3-4 months. At this age, it's still risky to try feeding your baby solid foods, as their mouth and throat muscles may not be adequately developed.
By the time your baby is 6 months, he/she will typically be drinking about 1 litre of milk every day. This is generally when most parents prefer to start on solid foods. It's important to remember that starting on solid foods does not mean you need to stop breastfeeding/bottle feeding your baby. Start with purees and mashed food for around 1-2 sittings/meals each day. The amount to be fed depends on how much your baby wants to eat. When he/she is done early, you'll generally see signs such as spitting out food, turning their head away or pursing their lips. This amount generally amounts to around 1-3 tablespoons. Breastfeeding should continue every 2-4 hours.
At this age, continue to nurse/bottle feed your baby. Alongside this, feed them semi solids with around 2-3 meals every day. The amount to be fed would be approximately 4-8 tablespoons, generally consisting of fruits, vegetables and cereals. Continue to breastfeed/bottle feed your child every 3-4 hours.
At this age, protein rich foods can be introduced into your child's diet. The ideal number of meals is around 3 per day in order to try to stabilize eating patterns. You can feed your little one how much he/she demands; you'll be able to tell when they're done.
Continue to feed your child 3 meals a day along with breastfeeding around every 4-5 hours. Feed your child the amount he/she is ready to eat.
It's important to keep a lookout for signs that your child is getting enough food. Generally, in the first 2 days, your baby should have used at least 2-3 nappies. After this period, your baby should use around 6 diapers everyday. The pee should be pale and odourless. The poo should be mustard-yellow.
There are also signs to lookout for that tell you when your baby is not getting enough food.
If your baby doesn't start gaining weight at around 2 weeks, it means he/she is probably not getting enough milk. Another sign is if fewer than 6-8 diapers are used, or less than 2-3 poos are taken per day. Being sleepy may also be an indication of undernutrition.
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