Establishing a feeding routine for your newborn

Published by Baby Bunting on Sunday, January 27, 2019

The first week or so of being home with your baby will be all about getting to understand your newborn's behaviour, preferences and routine. By observing your baby closely, you can start to understand what works best for you and what works best for them.It's important not to begin feeding with a strict plan; you'll be far better off equipping yourself with knowledge and understanding of the big change coming your way. But be flexible and open to adapting; there are many changes yet to come.

Pick a nice place to relax

Wherever you choose to feed, make sure you’re comfortable, relaxed and have everything at your fingertips. This can be in a nursery, in a bedroom armchair or in front of the television in the loungeroom.

If you’re breastfeeding, being relaxed and doing something enjoyable like reading or watching a favourite show will help you to express more milk.

If you’re bottle or formula feeding, hold your baby to your chest in a cradled position. Skin-to-skin contact will release oxytocin and make the experience pleasurable for you both, strengthening the bond you share.

Feeding frequency

Newborn babies’ stomachs are small. This means that they need to feed frequently rather than in big sittings like adults. Breastmilk takes up to one and a half hours to digest – with formula taking a bit longer – meaning your newborn can wake up almost every two hours, night and day, for a feed. Most will usually sleep between two to four hours, usually responding to bigger feeds with longer sleeps.

As they get older and their stomachs grow, babies can take in more milk and will start to sleep for longer stretches.

Cluster feeding

Sometimes your baby will prefer to feed a handful of times over a two to three hour stretch; this is called cluster feeding. If you notice that this is occurring at the time each day, make sure to structure your activities for this.

Storing formula and breastmilk

Pre-preparing formula or pumping breastmilk can save you time down the track. Provided you prepare and store this extra milk safely, you can hand over some of the feeding duties to a partner, friend or caregiver. These are great opportunities to catch up on some sleep or do something to look after yourself, and stored milk allows you to pick up and go when you’re in a hurry.

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