The basics: feeding your newborn

Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby, those precious moments allow you to sit back, relax and bond with your baby.


Feeding your newborn can seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. Here are a few important tips to help you know what to expect when feeding your newborn.

Breastfeeding basics

For such a natural process, breastfeeding isn’t easy for all moms and babies at first. The biggest predictor of breastfeeding success is support from your partner and loved ones, so make sure they’re on board.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as soon as possible after giving birth to give your baby all the benefits of colostrum, the fatty “pre-milk” your body produces in the first few days after birth. Colostrum can boost your baby’s immunity, help their digestive system develop and provide plenty of nutrients.

Getting your baby to “latch on” to your breast properly can be the tricky part. A baby who doesn’t have a good latch might not get enough milk and could make mom’s nipples very sore!

Try this technique: Hold your breast with one hand and your baby’s head with the other. Touch your nipple to their lips, and when they open their mouth, gently pull them toward your breast and insert your entire nipple and as much of the areola as possible. Your baby’s lips should be open quite wide. If in doubt, ask a midwife or lactation consultant to help you. They can also show you several different breastfeeding positions to help you find the best
one for you and your baby.

Two to five days after you give birth, your milk will “come in” – that is, increase in quantity and change from colostrum to breast milk. The more frequently you feed your baby (at least 10 to 12 times per 24 hours), the more milk your body will produce, so let your baby nurse as often as they want in the first six weeks in order to establish a good milk supply.

At first, each breastfeeding session could last half an hour to an hour. But as your baby gets older, they will become more efficient at breastfeeding and each feed should be shorter and easier. You can also use a breast pump to express milk and have someone else feed your baby occasionally to give you a break.

For more information on breastfeeding your newborn click here.

Bottle-feeding basics

One advantage of bottle feeding is that any family member or friend can do it. Hold your baby at a 45-degree angle while feeding them and burp them halfway through to minimize spitting up.

Formula-fed babies tend to eat less often than breastfed babies because formula is harder to digest than breastmilk, but start by offering the bottle every two to three hours. There’s no need to establish a rigid feeding schedule at first, but you might see a pattern naturally emerge after a month or so.

Most experts agree it isn’t necessary to sterilize bottles and nipples (unless you have well water, in which case you should boil them for five minutes). Hot water and soap will get them clean enough – even for newborns.

Choosing the right formula for your baby can seem daunting because there are so many types and brands. But unless your baby is allergic to cow’s milk or another ingredient, regular iron-fortified formula should do the trick. If your baby is particularly fussy or spits up a lot, talk to your doctor about whether you should switch formulas.

Formula doesn’t need to be heated, but if your baby prefers it warm, submerge the bottle in warm water for a couple of minutes or use a bottle warmer. Don’t use the microwave – it could heat the formula unevenly and burn your baby.

As tempting as it is, don’t prop the bottle up with a pillow or other object. It’s a choking hazard, and it can cause tooth decay and ear infections.