How your newborn is fed is the first nutrition decision to be made for the child. Water, juice, and other foods are usually unnecessary during a baby’s first 4-6 months. Breast milk or formula provides all the nutrient babies need until they start eating solid foods. These guidelines on breastfeeding or bottle feeding will enable you to know what’s appropriate for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding or Bottle feeding?

It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, after which the introduction of solid foods can commence. Breastfeeding is expected to continue through out the first year although it can go on for longer if desired.

Breastfeeding isn’t always possible or preferable for a new mom. Making a decision to breastfeed or bottle feed a baby is based on the mothers level of comfort with breastfeeding and also on her lifestyle. Breastfeeding may not be recommended for a mother and her child in some cases.
Keep in mind that your baby’s nutritional and emotional needs will be met regardless of the feeding method chosen.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your baby has a lot of advantages. The most important might be that the breast milk is perfect for a baby’s digestive system. It composes of all the nutrients a newborn will require and is also easily digestible. Although commercial formulas try to imitate and match the components of breast milk, they are unable to attain its exact composition.

Breast milk has antibodies that help protect the baby from infectious disease – diarrhea and respiratory infections. Studies have shown that breastfed babies are less liable to develop medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol.

Breastfeeding is also great for mothers because it helps to burn calories, thereby allowing a nursing mother to get back in shape faster. It can also help protect the mother from breast and ovarian cancer.

Some mothers prefer breastfeeding and consider it to be quicker than formula feeding since it needs no preparation and it doesn’t get exhausted at odd times. It costs a little as nursing mothers will need to eat more and might need to buy nursing bras, pads and any other equipment but these generally cost less than formula.

Breastfeeding requires a big commitment from a mother as some new moms feel tied down by the nursing demands and due to the fact that breast milk is easily digested, breastfed babies tend to eat more often than babies who are fed formula. This might be tiring as the mother may have to dedicate 2 or 3 hours in the first few weeks but sooner or later the baby begins to feed less frequently and sleeps for longer hours at night.

Formula Feeding

A nutritious alternative to breast milk is the commercially prepared infant formula. Bottle feeding can give room for freedom and flexibility as well as enable the mother know how much food the child consumes.

Due to the fact that babies digest formula more slowly than breast milk a baby who is fed formula may need less feeding than one who is breastfed. Formula feeding also makes it easier to feed the baby in public and allows the father and other family members to help feed the baby.

Bottle feeding has its unique demands just as breastfeeding does. It requires preparation and organization, especially if you want to take your baby out. Formulas can also be quite expensive.
The mother must make sure to have adequate formula on hand as well as bottles that are clean and ready to use.

Prepared formula should be kept in the refrigerator up to 24 hours and can be carefully warmed up just before feeding although it is not mandatory but is usually preferable. Bottles left out of the refrigerator for over an hour and formula left unfinished in the bottle should be discarded.
To warm a bottle of formula carefully hold it in running warm water or place it in a bowl of warm water. Microwaving a bottle of formula or breast milk is never an option as the bottle can heat up unevenly and leave hot spots that might burn a baby’s mouth.

A newborn will require feeding about 8 to 12 times daily during the first few weeks and feeding should be on demand.

Signs that your baby is full include the following:

  • Baby’s hands are relaxed and open.
  • Baby’s body feels relaxed, “loose”
  • Baby may have hiccups but is calm and relaxed.
  • Baby seems peaceful or may fall asleep.
  • Baby may have a “wet burp” (milk can be seen dribbling out mouth)

Signs that your baby is hungry include the following:

  • Baby moves head from side to side
  • Baby’s mouth is open and/or the tongue is stuck out
  • Baby places their hands and fists to their mouths
  • Baby puckering their lips as if to suck
  • Baby nuzzling against their mothers’ breasts
  • Baby crying

We always encourage mothers to breastfeed during the first six months and gradually wean the baby. It is beneficial to meet a lactation consultant and follow the advice of the health nurse if having trouble with feeding.

References

Feeding your newborn: Tips for new parents by Mayo Clinic Staff https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20047741
Feeding your newborn, reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/feednewborn.html

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