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Newborn Feeding

How to Feed a Newborn Baby: The Basics

Once you have decided what you are going to feed your newborn, the next step is to figure out how to feed her. Each feeding session has a few of the same basic steps, whether you have chosen to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
The steps you choose can vary, but the overall idea is the same. And remember -- establishing a good routine early will make all the future feedings easier and more comfortable for both of you.
The following is a guideline for feeding a newborn baby:
  • Wash your hands.
  • If you are feeding your baby formula, prepare the bottle to be served lukewarm. Test the temperature every time on the inside of your forearm.
  • Get comfortable. A comfy chair with good lower-back support is ideal.
  • Cradle your baby in the crook of your arm so that his head is supported and slightly elevated. Sometimes using a firm pillow across your lap or under your arm can help.
  • When you hold your newborn to feed, your face is typically about 10 inches away, which is perfect for her to get an idea of how you look, smell, and sound. This basic sensory knowledge will be your baby's guide for the next few weeks.
  • If you are giving your baby formula, present him with the bottle. If you are breastfeeding, offer your breast to your baby.
  • The amount of time that it will take a baby to complete a feeding varies from baby to baby and even from feeding to feeding. When your baby stops sucking or turns away from the nipple, it may be a sign that she is full. It can also be a sign that she just needs to rest for a moment or two.
  • After a few minutes, try offering the bottle or your breast again. If the baby refuses it again, he may be done. If not, keep going.
  • Burping your baby can be done during and at the end of each feeding session. It can be done as often as you feel your baby needs.
  • To burp your baby, hold him or her upright against your chest. Pat the baby's back with the palm of your hand or your closed hand until you get a good solid burp. Beware -- sometimes the burp is accompanied by spit-up. Have a burp cloth on hand for each session.
Be prepared to go through this process at least 8 to 12 times per day with your newborn baby. Follow your baby's feeding cues closely to know when it is time to start the process again.
(Click Newborn Feeding Schedule for a typical schedule on how much and how often to feed your baby.)
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