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Feeding

Feeding is an important time for you and your baby. It is one of your newborn's most pleasant experiences. It gives you an opportunity to bond with one another.

Both you and your newborn should be comfortable at feeding time. Make sure the baby is warm and dry. Choose a comfortable chair or bed. Hold the baby in your lap with his or her head slightly raised and resting in the bend of your elbow.

Breastfeeding

Breast milk provides natural immunities and ideal nutrition for your infant. Your milk may not come in for several days after your baby is born, but don't be discouraged. Your baby doesn't need much food during the first few days and will usually lose weight anyway. Put your baby to breast according to his or her needs (usually every two to four hours) whether or not your milk has come in. This will help establish your milk supply. Until your milk comes in, your baby will get colostrum, which has extra antibodies and other substances to help fight infection.

To start your baby nursing, cup your breast and stroke the infant's lip with your nipple. Help the baby get both the nipple and the darker area around it into his or her mouth. If the baby is properly latched onto the breast, there should be no pain with suckling. Use your thumb or finger to keep the breast from pressing against your baby's nose.

Your milk flow will be greater if both breasts are well nursed. Alternate which breast you start feeding with. (A pin on your bra strap will help you remember.) If your baby is getting enough milk, he or she should have at least six to eight wet diapers and several bowel movements per day (after the first few days).

It is best to have a flexible feeding schedule that allows your baby to eat when he or she is hungry. New babies usually need to be fed every two to four hours, but some may go up to five hours between feedings.

Bottle feeding

If you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, you may use any of the commercial formulas available. They come ready to serve or in liquid or powder you mix with water. Carefully follow the package instructions. You do not need to heat the formula, although your baby may prefer it warm. To heat a bottle, place it in a pan of water on the stove. Never put a bottle in a microwave oven - it can heat unevenly and burn your baby's mouth. Always discard any formula left in the bottle at the end of a feeding.

Never re-use leftover formula

As with breastfeeding, it is best to have a flexible schedule based on your baby's needs. After the first few days (when most babies eat very little), newborns usually take two to three ounces of formula every three to four hours.

Wash bottles, nipples and anything used to prepare formula in hot, soapy water. Check the nipple to make sure the flow of formula is not too slow or too fast. If you use bottles with plastic liners, squeeze out all the air so your baby won't get gas. Keep the nipple full of formula while your baby is feeding.

Never prop up the bottle to feed your infant. Never put a baby to bed with a bottle. These are unsafe practices, and your baby needs the security and pleasure of being held at feeding time. Babies should remain on formula until 10 to 12 months of age. Then your physician will recommend the proper milk for your baby.

Burping

After feeding, always burp your baby to help remove swallowed air. Hold the baby upright over your shoulder or face down over your lap. Pat or rub his or her back gently. Don't be alarmed if the baby spits up a small amount when you are burping, and don't worry if he or she doesn't burp every time.

Solid foods

Unless your physician recommends otherwise, do not give your baby solid foods until he or she is about six months old. Breast milk or formula supplies all the nutrition newborns need.

Introduce new foods slowly into your baby's diet. Physicians usually recommend adding no more than one new food each week. This will allow you to identify any allergic reactions your baby may have to solid foods.