One of the very first decisions you face as a new parent is how to feed your baby. NewYork- Presbyterian can provide guidelines for and help you get through any initial road bumps of feeding.
Feeding Your Newborn
NewYork-Presbyterian recognizes and fully supports your choice of newborn feeding— breastfeeding, formula, or a combination of both. We are a breastfeeding-friendly hospital that acknowledges and complies with the New York State Department of Health’s Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights.
A newborn’s nutritional needs are more significant than at any other time in their life, and it’s never too early to begin good eating habits. If you start good dietary practices now, you’ll set your child on the right path to developing healthy eating patterns.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months after birth. At six months, a combination of safe foods and breastfeeding is recommended up to age two or beyond. Breast milk provides the nutrition your child needs for proper growth and development. However, not all parents can exclusively breastfeed, and infant formula can also provide nutrition for your baby.
If you plan to feed your baby with formula, there are some important feeding tips to keep in mind. Please refer to the CDC’s formula preparation and storage instructions for the most up-to-date guidelines.
Additionally, your doctor’s office, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) office, or breastfeeding support program can help answer any questions you may have about formula feeding.
For the first few days after delivery, the first type of milk you will make is called colostrum. It may take three or more days to make more mature breast milk. You’ll know your mature milk is coming in when your breasts feel fuller and heavier. You should breastfeed your newborn at least eight to 12 times in 24 hours. Your baby shouldn’t go more than three hours without feeding for at least the first two weeks of their life.
Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of:
- Respiratory infections, ear infections, and gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting)
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 1 diabetes
- Asthma and allergies
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm babies
Mothers who breastfeed have reduced risks of:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
- Breastfeeding also aids in weight loss and helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size
Your breasts may feel engorged — heavy and swollen — three to five days after delivery. Continue to feed frequently and apply cold packs for comfort if needed after feeding or pumping. If your baby cannot latch on because of swelling, gently express some milk to make the area around your nipples softer before attempting to latch.
How to know your newborn is getting enough breast milk
- Adequate pee and poop: one pee on day one, increasing by one for each day of life to six or more by day six. One stool on day one, increasing to three or more stools by days three to five. Stools should change color and no longer be black by days three to four, and should be the size of a quarter coin or larger.
- Your baby seems content after feeding
- They are active and alert with a strong cry when awake
- They feed at least 8 to 12 times per 24 hours
- Your breasts may feel softer after latching your baby
It’s important to track your baby’s feedings and wet and dirty diapers to ensure they are eating enough. Sleepy babies should be woken up to eat.
Removing milk from your breasts frequently is important for milk production. With a deep and effective latch, your baby will do this every time they feed. However, you may consider using an electric breast pump if you have difficulty latching. Reach out to your healthcare team for lactation assistance as soon as you can if you’re having difficulty latching.
Breast milk storage
Collect and store milk from each pumping session in separate containers or bags. Newly pumped milk can remain safely at room temperature for four hours after pumping. Milk can be refrigerated for up to four days. Frozen breast milk is good for six to twelve months. Never microwave breast milk. If it is thawed, do not refreeze it. Thawed breastmilk must be stored in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours. Do not allow milk to thaw at room temperature or to thaw partially. Breast milk needs to be completely thawed and gently swirled before use. Your baby should finish the bottle within two hours, and whatever milk is left after that time should be thrown away.
Cluster feeding is a normal behavior for your newborn and often happens in the early days of breastfeeding. Your baby will feed more frequently over a few hours and may appear fussy. It is more common in the late afternoon/early evening and overnight, but it can happen at any time of day. Frequent latching with cluster feeds signals your body to boost up your milk production so that it can meet the increasing demand of your growing baby.
How to Know When Your Baby is Hungry
Babies don’t always feed at regular intervals. Babies use cues to tell us when they are hungry and when they are full. Crying is a late sign that the baby is hungry and may make it more difficult for them to feed. Feeding your baby when early hunger cues are seen can help you get off to a good start with breastfeeding. Some possible common hunger cues include:
- They lick or smack their lips
- They stick their tongue out
- They root their head around to search for a nipple
- They fuss
- They suck intensely
- They put their hands to their lips
Though breastfeeding is natural, it isn’t always easy. Many mothers want to breastfeed but stop sooner than planned if challenges develop, such as:
- Sore or cracked nipples
- Difficulty latching
- Not producing enough or producing too much breast milk
- Clogged milk ducts
- Concerns about cluster feeding and engorgement
The good news is that most mothers can breastfeed successfully with the help of their support network—this may include the hospital’s nurses and lactation experts, other healthcare providers, and friends and family.
Outpatient breastfeeding support program
After you leave the hospital, the right support can make all the difference in your breastfeeding journey. Our outpatient breastfeeding program is here to help.
You can schedule your own appointment for a virtual video visit with one of our International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants from the comfort of your home.
Use your baby's MyChart/Connect app; if you have any problems with scheduling, please call 646-317-2463.
Get Newborn Feeding Support from NewYork-Presbyterian
Because we encourage our new mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively, we offer breastfeeding classes to help you get started. All of our nurses are thoroughly trained in breastfeeding basics, including techniques and positioning. Our International Board-Certified lactation consultants are also registered nurses and can help breastfeeding mothers experiencing difficulty.
Lactation consultants are available weekdays and most weekends to support and work to educate new mothers on best breastfeeding practices to help them have a successful breastfeeding experience.