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Doctor’s Guide to Nourishing and Feeding Your Newborn

Dr TC Tan | Published on September 19, 2023

Welcoming a newborn into your family is an incredible and rewarding experience. As a parent, one of your primary responsibilities is ensuring your baby receives proper nourishment to grow and thrive.

While feeding your newborn may seem daunting, this doctor’s guide aims to provide you with essential information, tips and everything you need to know on how to make the process smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your little one.

Breastfeeding: Nature’s Best Start

Breast milk is often called “liquid gold” for a reason. It is the perfect nutrition for your baby and provides numerous health benefits. If possible, aim to breastfeed your newborn exclusively for the first six months. Breast milk contains essential antibodies that protect your baby from infections, allergies, and provides ideal nutrients for their growth.

Formula Feeding: A Nutritious Alternative

If breastfeeding is not an option or you choose formula feeding, rest assured that modern infant formula provides all the necessary nutrients your baby needs. Always consult with your paediatrician to select the appropriate formula for your baby’s specific needs.

How Do I Know When To Feed My Baby?

“If you are breastfeeding it is usually on demand, every 1 or 2 hours” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Tan Thiam Chye, and depends on how well the baby has fed at the previous feed.

How Much Should My Baby Drink?

If you’re breastfeeding, your baby will stop when they are full. Formula-fed babies usually need to feed every 2 to 3 hours, but this doesn’t need to be regimented. After a month or so your baby will fall into a pattern.

“If you are feeding them formula, start off with 30 millilitres (ml) of milk every 2 hours,” advises Dr Tan. “Every week you add 10ml to each feed; that means a 1-week-old will have 40ml at each feed, a 2-week-old will have 50ml, a 3-week-old will have 60ml and so on.”

When Do You Start Breastfeeding?

“Immediately,” says Dr Tan. “We encourage latching. Skin-to-skin contact is very important. That means that once you deliver, you expose your breast and let the baby latch on, which stabilises skin-to-skin contact.”

Dr Tan says that breastfeeding can guard babies against infection. He adds, “There are also many claims that a breastfed baby has less risk of eczema, asthma and bronchitis.”

Furthermore, breastfeeding benefits mums, helping them to lose pregnancy weight more quickly. Dr Tan notes that breastfeeding has also been shown to protect against breast cancer.

Tips for Successful Breastfeeding:

  • Ensure a proper latch: A good latch is crucial for effective breastfeeding. Seek guidance from a lactation consultant or healthcare provider if needed.
  • Frequent nursing: Newborns have small stomachs and need to nurse frequently, typically every 2-3 hours.
  • Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet: Your own nutrition and hydration are essential for milk production.

I Can’t Breastfeed, But How Do I Know What Formula To Buy?

Breast milk is best for babies, but if you decide to feed your baby formula you will be reassured to know that all baby formula sold in Singapore offers the basic nutrients needed for your baby’s growth. Price doesn’t necessarily mean that one milk is better than another either. Talking to your friends and finding out which brands they prefer for their little ones is good market research.

Tips for Formula Feeding:

  • Follow preparation instructions carefully: Ensure you mix and prepare formula according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Sterilise bottles and nipples: Keep bottles and nipples clean and sterilised to prevent infections.
  • Hold your baby while feeding: This promotes bonding and allows you to monitor their feeding cues.

What’s The Best Position For Feeding?

The key to successful breastfeeding is being comfortable  it’s the ideal time to bond with your baby. Many women find the cradle hold the easiest and most successful position for both mum and baby. In this position you can see if your baby is properly latched on and, if you need to breastfeed in public, you are able to do so quite discreetly. If you find the cradle hold doesn’t work for you, there are several other options you can try.

While there are not as many position variations as with breastfeeding, there are still several comfortable and safe ways to hold your baby while formula feeding. Some positions to consider will be the cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, sitting up and side-lying position.

Responsive Feeding: Watch for Hunger and Fullness Cues

Whether breastfeeding or formula feeding, it’s crucial to practice responsive feeding. Watch for your baby’s cues of hunger and fullness. These can include rooting, sucking on hands, or turning away when full. Avoid forcing your baby to finish a bottle if they are full.

Burping Your Baby: Preventing Discomfort

Gas and discomfort can make your baby fussy during and after feeds. To prevent this, burp your baby gently after every feeding, whether breast or bottle-feeding. You can use a gentle pat on the back or hold your baby against your shoulder.

Watch for Allergic Reactions

Allergies can develop in infants, so be vigilant for signs of allergic reactions like rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive fussiness after feeding. If you suspect an allergy, consult your paediatrician.

Consult Your Paediatrician

Your baby’s healthcare provider is your best resource for guidance on feeding and nutrition. Regular check-ups allow your doctor to monitor your baby’s growth and address any concerns or questions you may have. If your baby does not want to feed or seems to be unwell, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Whether you choose breastfeeding or formula feeding, the key is to provide love, care, and nourishment to support your baby’s healthy development. Remember, every baby is unique, so trust your instincts and consult with your healthcare provider whenever you have questions or concerns. With patience and love, you’ll navigate this exciting journey of nourishing your precious newborn.

Consult A Lactation Counsellor

Breastfeeding does not have to be a struggle. Our experienced lactation counsellors are here to support you on your breastfeeding journey. Whether you’re a new mum or looking for guidance with your latest addition, our counsellors offers expert advice and personalised solutions to ensure a successful and comfortable breastfeeding experience for you and your baby. Don’t hesitate to reach out and make breastfeeding a joyful and stress-free part of motherhood.

To schedule a consultation with one of our Lactation Counsellors, click here.

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