Your Newborn

(picture of a baby) Babies are born wanting to suck, but feeling hungry and learning to eat are new for them. Many babies breastfeed easily. Other babies need help to get started.

It is a good idea to get your baby started feeding in the first hour or two after birth. Your baby will be wide awake right after birth. This is a good time to hold your baby close. It is also easier for the baby to learn how to breastfeed when she is alert. Tell your nurse that you want to breastfeed. Ask for help if you want it.

Feeding Your Baby

New babies need to eat often because they have small stomachs. Most babies nurse at least eight times every 24 hours for 30-40 minutes each time. The first few days are a learning time for you and your baby.

Sleepy Baby

If your baby is sleepy, wake the baby every three hours during the day and once during the night. If you nurse at 7 in the morning, nurse again by 10, even if you have to wake the baby. Wake your baby by talking close to the baby's face. Rub the baby's back, arms, legs and tummy. Put a clean finger in the baby's mouth to get the baby sucking. Change the diaper. It may take about five minutes to wake your baby. You may need to do this before every feeding for a few days.

(picture of a sleepy baby)Once your baby starts gaining weight and wakes up regularly during the day for feedings, you can go to feeding on demand. That means the baby will let you know when it is time for a feeding. It is still okay to wake your baby if your breasts are feeling very full, or if you want to get the baby fed before doing something else.

One Breast or Both

Babies usually nurse from each breast at each feeding. Most babies need to burp when switched from one breast to the other. Sometimes, your baby may be too full to nurse from both breasts. If your baby nursed well, and is acting full after one breast, that is okay. Just start the next feeding with the other breast.

If your baby falls asleep before finishing the first breast, wake the baby. Babies need to learn to nurse long enough to get full at each feeding.

If your baby stops sucking and swallowing after about 15 minutes, but still wants to nurse, you will know the first breast is finished. You may also notice your breast soften during the feeding. Always be sure the baby finishes nursing the first breast before switching the baby to the other side. This way your baby will get the creamy part of the milk that comes at the end of the feeding. Cream has more calories which your baby needs to grow and feel full longer.

Growth Spurts

When your baby is 7-10 days old she will probably have a growth spurt. This may happen again at about 3 weeks. Your baby will want to nurse more often than usual. Even though your breasts may not feel full, let the baby nurse. In a few days you will be making more milk and the baby will nurse less often.

Bowel Movements

Your baby's bowel movements will change in the first few days. They will change from brown and sticky to watery and yellow. This tells you the baby is digesting breast milk. By the time the baby is 4 days old, you should see 2 to 5 yellow bowel movements a day. Some babies have a small stool with every feeding. As your baby gets older the number of bowel movements may decrease.

Crying or Fussy Baby

Crying is the only way your baby can call for help. If you just finished nursing, try other ways of comforting. The baby may need to burp, have a diaper change or just need to be held. If you can not calm the baby, nurse again.

Sometimes it is hard to figure out why a baby is fussy. If your baby is crying a lot and wants to nurse more often than every two hours, the baby may be going through a growth spurt or may not be getting full at each feeding. Try holding your breast the whole time the baby nurses. This keeps the nipple far back in the baby's mouth so the milk can flow easily. Rub the baby's back and chest when the baby stops sucking. Keep doing this so the baby will nurse long enough to get full. Then the baby may be more content.

If your baby seems to have gas and cries because it hurts, read the section on colic or gas.

If your baby becomes very fussy and does not nurse well for two feedings, this may be a sign that the baby is sick. Call the baby's doctor or clinic. When a baby has an ear infection, thrush, or an upset stomach, sucking and swallowing may be painful.

Special Tips


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