Feeding your newborn baby: how much should a newborn eat?
If your newborn baby is hungry – he/she will tell you all about it! In fact they won’t stop telling you about it till you get the message!! They will be trying to suck a fist, twisting their head from side to side, or trying to latch on any passing item that might come near their face. (I am talking here about a healthy well infant – an infant that rarely cries, and only cries weakly needs to be seen promptly by a Health Care Professional to establish what is going on).
Breast feeding new born babies, weighing roughly more than 3 Kilos/ say about six and a half pounds, may feed every 1 – 2 hours when they are initially establishing breast feeding – I know this can be exhausting, but things will sort themselves out in time – so hang in there. So with regards a breast feeding baby – you cannot have a set newborn feeding schedule – instead – if baby is showing signs of hunger – allow baby to latch on the breast and feed until baby is satisfied.
A formula/ bottle feeding newborn baby of the same weight, will feed approximately every three hours and again it is best not to have a rigid newborn feeding schedule – but rather respond to your baby’s cues that baby is ready for a feed.
It works out roughly at about eight feeds over a twenty-four hour period (in a day, in other words). Now I don’t want you to get into this thing where you say, “but the nurse said a baby weighing six and a half pounds, and my baby only weighs 6lbs 4ozs. What I am trying to do is give you the overall principles of how to work out what is going on with your baby, because I believe that with guidance – you CAN and WILL be the BEST CARER IN THE WORLD for your baby. For some reason, and I know Health Professionals are often to blame, they make caring for a baby into the most mystical and far fetched exact science – where, if you ended up doing seven feeds in a day, instead of eight, you have committed a deadly sin. Maybe your baby that day had seven really good feeds, and didn’t want or need another for the day.
Working out how much to feed a newborn is fairly simple as a newborn baby who is getting enough to drink, will be sleeping for periods between feeds (no, no exact number of periods), WILL BE GAINING WEIGHT (which will show up on the scales – over a period of a week – Your Health Care Professional will be monitoring the amount of weight gain your baby has to establish if it is adequate), and will be having about seven or eight wet nappies a day – What goes in – has to come out!!
That’s why we say feeding about every 3 hours, and wetting about 8 nappies a day. If you have a big “boofer” a 4.5 Kilo baby/ like 10 lbs, they very soon behave like an older baby, and will be happy going for 3 to 4 hours between feeds – that’s about 6 feeds a day. They stay at this frequency usually the first few months, and then when they’re a bit bigger – you might get lucky, and get to miss that middle of the night feed! Oh for a night of unbroken sleep! Pity nobody mentioned that this was going to be like running a marathon – every day of your life! I get so angry when a NEW MUM puts herself down – you show me someone else who works this hard. If you are managing to keep your baby clean and fed, and having some decent nourishment yourself – you are doing extremely well.
With “demand feeding” some feeds will be bigger/ that is baby will suck for longer before dropping off to sleep, and some feeds will be shorter.
There is ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING WHEN IT COMES TO FEEDING A NEWBORN BABY – it is very important that newborns don’t go for too long between feeds. One gap of say 5 to 6 hours ONCE in a day is all that should be allowed in the early days. This is because a new born baby can drop their blood sugar very easily, which in turn means that they have trouble maintaining their body temperature, which starts a vicious cycle of potential problems. New born babies also have a tendency to become “jaundiced” (a yellow discolouration of their skin), which can make them sleepy, and the less they feed, the more sleepy they become – and you don’t want to get into a downward spiral.
If your newborn baby is still sleeping after 6 hours (remember we calculate the feeds from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of another feed) – then you need to wake up your baby. The easiest way to wake your baby is to change their nappy/diaper. Most newborns start to protest immediately. They then remember that nice warm stuff and demand that it be given to them instantly. New born babies are TOTALLY INTO INSTANT GRATIFICATION – (We’re supposed to grow out of this as we “grow up” into adults!), but it is totally normal and acceptable behaviour for a newborn baby.
If you have trouble waking your baby – you need to contact your Health Care Professional.
OK so in summary – your newborn baby will feed about eight times a day in the early weeks, and be maintaining a steady weight gain, and be having about 7 to eight wet nappies a day – that way you know he/she is getting enough! Why didn’t I just say so in the first place???? I want you to understand what is going on – so that you can start to work things out for yourself – cause I know YOU ARE going to be the best Mum/Dad in the world – I really mean that. So I hope that answers your query on how much should a newborn eat!