Is My Baby Eating Enough
Babies grow at different rates, and at times you may wonder whether your baby is getting enough nutrients to develop properly. To help determine whether your baby is eating enough, follow the schedule of regular well-child checkups so that your little one can be weighed and measured.
In the meantime, your newborn’s diapers are a good indicator of whether your baby is getting enough to eat. You’ll probably be changing at least six wet and four dirty diapers each day at first.
Newborns’ poop is thick and tarry in the beginning and then becomes more yellow or green as they get older. Formula-fed babies often have firmer, less seedy stools than breast-fed babies.
Wet diapers should have clear or very pale urine. If you see orange crystals in a wet diaper, contact your baby’s doctor. Crystals are usually not a cause for concern, but sometimes they can be a sign of a baby not getting enough fluid or of dehydration. Other possible signs of underfeeding include:
- not gaining enough weight
- seeming unsatisfied, even after a complete feeding
If you’re concerned or notice any signs that your baby isn’t getting enough nutrition, call your doctor.
What Kind Of Milk Should I Use
Most infant formula brands are either first milks or follow on milks. There are also formulas that are marketed as comfort milk and hungrier baby milk.
Some mums feel that these types of milk make a difference, but there is no evidence that you need to change from a first milk to any other type.
First milk is the only food your baby will need for the first 6 months. After that, you can introduce them to solid food alongside first milk.
You can start giving your baby ordinary full-fat cows milk instead of first milk when they turn 1.
Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP if you think your baby might be allergic or intolerant of formula. They may be able to prescribe a special formula feed.
Formula milk is available in two forms:
- ready-to-feed liquid infant formula, which is sterile
- powered infant formula, which isnt sterile.
Guide For Formula Feeding
- When breast milk is not available, standard infant formula is an appropriate alternative for most healthy full term infants, but there are some differences between brands. Do not hesitate to ask your health care provider for a recommendation if you are unsure which formula to use.
- Bottle-feeding should be interactive, with the caregiver holding both the bottle and the infant. Propping a bottle has been linked to an increased risk of ear infections and tooth decay.
- Formula feeding should be in response to the infants needs and not based on a predetermined schedule. Look for cues of hunger and fullness to determine both when to feed and how much. The number of wet diapers per day and your childs growth will reflect if he or she is getting enough formula. The chart below demonstrates common intakes for infants at various stages. However, ask your health care provider if you have any questions about how much formula your infant is taking.
- The amount of formula an infant takes will decrease as the baby increases intake of solid foods, but formula remains a significant source of calories, protein, calcium and vitamin D for the first year of life.
- Ask your health care provider before switching an infant less than 1 year of age from formula to cows milk or a cows milk alternative.
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How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Formula
Your baby’s weight gain and the number of wet and dirty nappies will tell you whether your baby is getting enough formula.
Your baby should have around 6 wet nappies a day from a few days after the birth. Nappies should be soaked through with clear or pale yellow urine, or feel heavy.
For the first few days after birth, your baby will pass a dark, sticky substance known as meconium. After the first week your baby should start to pass pale yellow or yellowish brown poo.
Your baby will usually be weighed at birth and again at around 5 and 10 days. After that healthy babies only need to be weighed once a month up to 6 months of age.
This information should be entered on a chart in your Personal Child Health Record or “red book”.
If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s weight gain, speak to a midwife or health visitor.
How Do I Formula Feed My Baby
The most common way to feed a baby with formula milk is with a bottle. There are lots of different bottle brands and styles to choose from. Teats can either be made from rubber or silicone and vary in shape. Theres no evidence that one is better than the other, so it just depends on what you like and if your baby has a preference. You may find that you try several different brands before you find one that works well for you and your baby.
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Feel Good About Your Choice
The A.A.P. recommends that women breastfeed exclusively for about the first six months of life, and then continue breastfeeding while giving solid foods for at least a year.
Exclusive breastfeeding for six months without additional solids or formula provides the strongest protection against gastrointestinal and respiratory infections during infancy. But partial breastfeeding does still provide some protections against diarrhea, ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and respiratory infections like pneumonia.
Note though, that this protection against infection lasts only as long as you are breastfeeding, said Dr. Kramer.
Some studies also suggest that breastfeeding can confer additional lifelong protection against obesity, eczema, asthma and allergies, as well as a slight boost in I.Q., though many of the studies showing these long-term benefits have major methodological issues, according to the A.A.P.
Women sometimes hear that just one drop of formula will change a babys microbiome the mélange of bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic bugs that line the skin and gastrointestinal system. Such changes, they are warned, may have lifelong consequences for their babies immune and metabolic health.
Some popular breastfeeding websites also warn that using formula can shorten the breastfeeding relationship.
How Much Formula Does Your Baby Need
Your newborn baby only needs small amounts of formula in the first few days â after all, his or her tummy is still very small, but itâs growing all the time.
Just to give you an idea how small your newbornâs stomach is, and how fast it grows:
On day one itâs about the size of a cherry and holds around 5-7 millilitres
On day three itâs the size of a walnut, with room for 22-27 millilitres of formula or breastmilk
After one week itâs grown to the size of an apricot and can hold about 45-60 millilitres at a time
After one month your babyâs stomach is about the size of a large egg, with a capacity of 80-150 millilitres.
From after the first week until around 6 months old , your little one may need around 150 to 200 millilitres of formula milk a day for every kilogram of body weight.
So, for example, a 1-month-old baby weighing around 4 kilograms might need between around 600 and 800 millilitres of formula a day, spread over several feeds. Here are some more examples of how much formula your baby may need per day based on different bodyweights:
|Approximate Quantities of Formula Depending on Body Weight|
All babies are different, and so are their appetites! In practice, though, once your child settles into a feeding pattern and you get to know his or her feeding cues, youâll probably find it natural to increase the quantity of formula gradually in response to demand.
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How Is Formula Different From Breast Milk
Formula is a nutritionally complete food for babies. Many formula products contain extra ingredients so that they more closely match breast milk.
One of the main differences between formula and breast milk is that breast milk contains antibodies, which help protect the baby against a range of illnesses. The nutrition in breast milk adapts over the babys lifespan, unlike formula whose nutritional content stays the same.
Breast milk also has less protein than formula. Choosing a formula with less protein will reduce your babys risk of becoming overweight or obese as they get older.
Choosing The Best Formula For Your Baby
When you first walk into a shop or pharmacy that sells formula, you might find the range of boxes and packets on display a bit bewildering at first, with so many different brands and types of infant formula on offer.
Donât let this confuse you though: Just check the label carefully and keep in mind that newborns need what is known as âfirst infant formulaâ until at least 6 months of age, unless your doctor or midwife advises otherwise.
Experts also advise sticking to this type of formula until your baby is at least around 1 year old, when you can start giving your baby cowâs milk to drink.
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How To Make Up A Feed
If youâre using powdered milk, follow the seven steps below to make up a feed. Always read the manufacturerâs instructions carefully and ask your midwife or health visitor if thereâs anything youâre not sure about.
Always make the formula just before you need to use it and donât reuse any formula milk thatâs been left over from a previous feed.
Make sure the surfaces youâre using are cleaned and disinfected, and the feeding bottle and accessories are also cleaned and sterilised.
Boil at least 1 litre of fresh tap water in a kettle, then leave it to cool for no more than 30 minutes .
Stand the bottle on the disinfected surface, and â following the manufacturerâs instructions â pour the correct amount of hot water from the kettle into the bottle. Be careful to check the water level.
Again, following the manufacturerâs instructions carefully, use the scoop supplied with the formula to add the powder to the water in the bottle. Donât forget to level off each scoop of powder with a clean, dry knife or the provided leveller.
Insert the teat into its retaining ring and screw it on.
Put the cap over the teat and shake the bottle until all the powder is dissolved.
Cool the bottle under cold running water or leaving it to stand in a bowl of cold water.
Test the temperature of the formula by dripping some onto the inside of your wrist â it should be warm or cool, but not hot.
Important Things To Note:
- If your baby is on a European formula such as HiPP, Holle, or Lebenswert, please note that all of the measurements on the packaging and instructions will be in milliliters . Since fluid ounces are more commonly used in North America, we have included the conversions in this chart. Please take care when measuring to ensure that you are using the correct units.
- Once your baby is six months old, they will begin to eat solid foods and will have fewer feeds, with each bottle containing more formula. Beginning on your babys first birthday, your little one can safely transition to drinking cows milk , along with eating three meals a day, supplemented by healthy snacks.
- For the youngest formula-fed babies, the best thing to do is consult with your doctor about how much formula you should give your little one. At this age, babies essentially feed on demand, every two to three hours, starting out with just half a fluid ounce of formula at a time. After the first few days, they are likely to start drinking around one or two fluid ounces at each feed.
- If your baby is not exclusively formula fed , please consult with your pediatrician for guidance about combination feeding.
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When Should You Start Feeding Your Newborn Baby
Newborns especially are most alert an hour or two after birth, which is why its important to start breastfeeding as soon as possible. If you miss that very active stage, your baby may be sleepier later, which makes it harder to practice latching on for that first initial feeding.
If your babys not showing signs of wanting to latch, you should continue to offer your baby the breast every two to three hours. It can take a lot of practice, so its important to be patient as your baby is figuring out the best way to latch.
Write down the feeding times and number of wet and dirty diapers your baby has had while youre in the hospital. Your nurse and doctor will be able to help you determine if your baby needs some additional encouragement to nurse or supplement.
Why Does My Baby Seem Hungrier Than Usual
As babies gain weight, they should begin to eat more at each feeding and go longer between feedings. Still, there may be times when your little one seems hungrier than usual.
Your baby may be going through a period of rapid growth . These can happen at any time, but in the early months growth spurts often occur at around:
- 7-14 days old
- 4 months
- 6 months
During these times and whenever your baby seems especially hungry, follow his or her hunger cues and continue to feed on demand, increasing the amount of formula you give as needed.
Recommended Reading: How To Give A Newborn Their First Bath
Combination Feeding A Newborn
Combination feeding means breastfeeding and bottle-feeding with the bottle containing either expressed breast milk or formula milk. Its best to wait until breastfeeding is well established any changes to breastfeeding routine may interfere with mums supply. Read our tips on how to introduce combination feeding
Can Babies Be Allergic To Formula
Some babies are particularly sensitive or allergic to cows milk-based formula. Generally, the protein in cows milk causes them to react. Hydrolysed formula is often recommended as an alternative. Hydrolysed formula contains cows milk protein that has been broken down into smaller particles.
There are a range of specialised formulas that suit babies with a cows milk allergy or soy formula allergy. These alternatives can be expensive, though. Speak with your GP or babys paediatrician about getting a prescription for a specialty formula since this can significantly reduce its cost.
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