If you’re a new parent, you’re probably wondering how to feed a newborn baby. While it may seem easy to an onlooker, once you’re involved in parenthood, the need for technique becomes obvious.
While it may not seem important to learn how to feed a newborn baby prior to childbirth, it’s probably a good idea to look over everything you need. This can give you a leg up when you’re learning the best process for your bundle of joy.
But we understand: having a baby isn’t exactly a casual stroll. You’re stressed, you’re tired, and on top of that, you have one more new thing to learn – and it’s crucial.
Once you’re a parent, you never stop learning. However, we sympathize with your exhaustion. We’ve got a comprehensive guide to help you learn how to feed your newborn baby.
Ready for a new learning experience? Read on!
How to feed a newborn baby
There are many things you need to take account while learning how to feed a newborn baby. The first thing you need to learn is the timing!
You need to feed your baby very often, but little amounts. Remember, your baby doesn’t really know how to do things yet. Tiny amounts let them adapt to eating.
As they learn, they’ll develop motions such as expressions, hand movements, or head movements to signal and let you know they need food.
You may not think so, but the tools you use matter just as much as your technique.
It’s important that you make sure that all of the feeding equipment for your newborn is sterilized. If it isn’t, the equipment can attract germs that can make your baby sick.
A good rule of thumb is that if it goes in your baby’s mouth, wash it. This includes bottles, retaining rings, pacifiers, caps, bottle nipples, and so on.
Also, washing isn’t enough. You need a steam sterilizer, a microwave sterilizer, or a sterilizing solution for cold water.
You’ll have to continue to sterilize your equipment until your newborn is about a year old at least – so no longer a newborn, in other words.
Make sure to check your equipment regularly. If anything which goes in your baby’s mouth is splitting or cracking, throw it out.
If it continues to split and crack, a piece could break off in your child’s mouth and become a choking hazard.
Prepare the formula
When you actually get down to feeding your newborn, you need to make sure you prepare the formula exactly how the bottle states. Using a different amount can mean your baby isn’t getting the nutrients they need or can lead to severe issues like dehydration or kidney problems.
You also need to ensure that your equipment stays sterilized while preparing the formula. It can be tricky when you’re learning how to feed a newborn baby.
An easy way to make sure everything stays clean is to follow these steps:
- Fill a pot with fresh tap water
- Boil the water
- Let cool for 30 minutes or less. It needs to retain enough heat to kill germs.
- Pour the amount of water you need into the bottle.
- Add the proper amount of formula powder. Fill up the scoop, level it off with a knife. Don’t pack it in.
- Make sure your cap is sterilized before putting it on the bottle.
- Shake your bottle carefully until the powder has dissolved.
- Make sure your bottle is filled with formula. If not, your baby may swallow too much air to be healthy.
You want to heat your baby’s formula to the right temperature. When you’re learning how to feed a newborn baby, this can be a tricky balance to get right.
Contrary to popular belief, heating your baby’s formula in the microwave is not a great idea.
The microwave probably won’t heat the milk evenly. Have you ever heated something up in the microwave to the point where the outside was piping hot and the inside was still ice cold?
The same thing applies to your baby’s formula. The formula will be a different temperature throughout, so while it may pass your temperature test, the same formula could burn your baby’s mouth.
Additionally, if you overheat the milk, your formula could lose some crucial nutrients.
A better way to heat your formula would be in a pan or in a bottle of warm water. You’ll be able to keep an eye on the formula this way and make sure it reaches the right temperature.
A thermometer may help you here. You don’t want the water to reach a temperature that’s cooler than 70 degrees Celsius. If it does, dangerous bacteria will start to develop.
When you’re ready to test the temperature, drop a little bit of the milk onto the inside of your wrist. This is an optimal place because of the thinness and sensitivity of the skin.
However, the milk feels here is an approximation of how it will feel to your baby.
If your milk is too cold, continue to heat it.
If it’s too cold, run the bottle under a stream of cold water, making sure to keep the nipple clean. Also, make sure your bottle has the lid on tight!
When you’re learning how to feed a newborn baby, you learn pretty quickly that it can be a long process.
Make sure you’re comfortable and make sure your baby is comfortable.
You need to sit your baby up properly, and this goes double if your baby often gets gas or acid reflux. Sit your baby in your lap, and hold them up with the crook of your arm. Nestle them in your chest for optimal comfort.
It’s also important to make sure your baby can breathe. This should go without saying, but finding the right feeding position is a process, just like feeding your baby.
Ensure that your baby can breathe comfortably and that they’re not having trouble swallowing.
Also, make sure that you can see their face. While babies can’t talk, their faces are very expressive. You’ll be able to see easily if your baby needs a break from feeding time.
Place the bottle of the nipple against your baby’s lower lip. This lets your baby open their mouth, and with little effort, you can push it into their mouth.
It may be easier if you angle it upward. If you notice that the milk is flowing too quickly for your baby to keep up, see about getting a different nipple. Your baby needs to suck to get milk into their mouth.
In case of emergency
You can do everything right and still run into problems. Babies are particularly vulnerable to choking because they have tiny airways. It’s easy for small things to become lodged there.
Your newborn likely doesn’t have the strength to dislodge any foreign objects that get stuck in their airways.
If your baby does choke while feeding, the most important thing to do is not to panic.
Assuming you’re sitting, turn your baby around to rest their face on your forearm. Rest your forearm on your thigh.
Thump your baby on the middle of the back. Do this gently but firmly.
Gravity should take hold and the object should clear.
When you’re learning how to feed a newborn baby, you should know that the process doesn’t end when the meal does.
After mealtime, make sure to burp your baby.
Even if you do everything right and fill your bottle with the appropriate amount, your baby will probably wind up with air in their stomach. This is uncomfortable and painful to your small child.
Don’t hesitate to burp your baby after feeding, just to clear the gas that’s come to rest inside.
After that, it may be time for your newborn to get some sleep!
Whether it’s naptime or not (and let’s be honest, newborns don’t sleep longer than a nap at a time!), make sure they’re tucked in properly.
Couches aren’t safe for babies, and can even lead to SIDS or suffocation.
We recommend that your baby rests in a crib. If you share your bed with your baby, make sure that you’re taking the proper precautions: firm mattress, baby on their back, no blankets or pillows.
Learning how to feed a newborn baby is almost as much of an adventure as having them in the first place.
Having children means that you never stop learning, even when you think you have all the answers. It’s all apart of the journey of parenthood!
As your child grows and their faculties develop, you’ll be able to fall into a more customized routine. Still, it’s important to keep this guide in mind to make sure your baby stays safe.