The challenges of feeding a new baby can be overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. It is normal to have many questions such as:
“How often should my newborn feed?”
“My baby is fussy; does this mean (s)he has a food allergy?”
“My baby spits up; is that normal?”
Even more overwhelming is the vast array of books, websites, and social media content related to this subject. We believe that feeding your baby shouldn’t be rocket science. Newborn nutrition boils down to a few key principles:
- Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for newborns, offering a number of health benefits to both baby and mother. It can be challenging, but most mothers committed to breastfeeding are successful. Your baby’s pediatrician and lactation specialist can help maximize your chances of success.
- The above principle is only true to the extent that baby, mother, and the rest of the family can adapt in a healthy way around breastfeeding and pumping. Strategies for breastfeeding and pumping that require enormous sacrifices of time, resources, or sleep, are likely to cause more harm than good. For mothers with significant barriers to breastfeeding, or who prefer not to breastfeed, infant formula or pumping are safe alternatives.
- Most commercially available infant formulas are approximately equivalent. Kind of like Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. When prepared and administered correctly, they all get the job done. If planning to use formula, it is reasonable to start with the formula most accessible and familiar to you. Ask your pediatrician for samples!
- Certain infants have special nutritional needs. For example, premature infants may require fortified breast milk. Similarly, infants with certain metabolic disorders require specialized formulas to avoid ingredients in breast milk or standard formulas that their bodies cannot process. Your pediatrician is your best resource in determining if your baby has special nutritional needs.
- Newborns should feed as frequently (and with as much breastmilk or formula) as needed for appropriate growth. Following your baby’s hunger cues is far more important than sticking to a strict feeding schedule.
- The growth chart is key. At your baby’s checkups, your pediatrician will focus on a number of factors related to nutrition, the most important of which is the growth chart. Some fussiness, spitting up, and variation in stool pattern is normal and should be expected. If you are concerned that your baby is experiencing something abnormal, always bring this to your pediatrician’s attention!
For more details, ask your pediatrician at your baby’s next checkup or visit:
Pediatric Associates of Cheshire