How to Feed a Newborn Baby, and Why

Size of baby’s stomache


As a parent of a newborn, I always wonder if my baby ate enough or how often should a baby eat? I don't remember taking a class on how to raise another human while I was in school. All I know is that I have wants for my baby.

I want our baby to have enough nutrients and grow as they should.

I want our baby to be happy.  

I want our baby to eat and be the BEST version of themselves.

Always discuss these topics with your pediatrician but sources are cited below so you can learn for your baby!


Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding


  • Infants should be exclusively breast-fed until at least the age of 6 mos (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation)
  • Infants can be given commercially available low-protein infant formula IF no longer breastfed or no longer exclusively breastfed
  • Breastfeeding saves lives!
  • Breast is Best!


What are some advantages of Breastfeeding?

  • Baby immunoprotection- secretory IgA (sIgA), the dominant antibody in breast milk, stops pathogens from sticking or penetrating the gastrointestinal tract
  • Favorable gut microbiome- associated with reduced asthma and obesity rates
  • Lactoferrin- helps to absorb iron and promotes epithelial growth
  • Milk fat Globules- has antimicrobial properties and serves as vehicles for sIgA
  • Less Childhood obesity
    • Leptin- suppresses appetite and prevents overeating
    • Ghrelin- stimulates appetite and promotes self regulation in breastfed infants
  • Less respiratory and ear infections
  • Reduction in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)- 45% reduction in SIDS risk for newborns to 2 mos, those breastfed ≥2 months had a 62% reduction, and those exclusively breastfed for any duration had a 73% reduction
  • Less pediatric cancers- infants breastfed >6 months had a 24% reduction in risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia compared to those not breastfed, while those breastfed ≤ 6 mo had a 12% reduction
  • Less risk of Type 2 Diabetes- nearly 40% compared to formula-feeding


What are advantages of breastfeeding for the Mother?

  • Postpartum weight loss
  • Less chance of reproductive cancers- 28% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer among women who breastfed for at least 12 months compared to women who never breastfed 
  • Reduced maternal bleeding after delivery
  • Suppressed ovulation- type of birth control
  • Bonding with baby
  • Free! Saves money

How many calories are in an ounce of breast milk?


  • Each fluid ounce (~20ml) of breast milk has ~22 calories


How man calories a day does a baby need?


  • Breast milk covers all calorie needs up to 6 months
  • Babies 6–8 months need an extra 200 kcal per day
  • Babies 9–11 months need an extra 300 kcal per day
  • Babies 12–23 months of age need an extra 550 kcal per day.
  • Note that more complementary calories may be needed as less milk is consumed


How much does a breastfed newborn baby eat?


  • Newborn babies should feed as much as they want
  • You can switch to the other breast if baby acts hungry


How do I know my baby is hungry?


  • Hand sucking
  • Head turning
  • Crying
  • Increased fussiness
  • Licking the lips



How do I know my baby is full or getting enough milk while breastfeeding?


  • When baby sleeps or appears sleepy
  • When Baby stops suckling
  • When hands are no longer in a fist
  • When baby pulls away
  • When baby is looking at the surroundings


How often does a breastfed Newborn Baby eat?

  • Most babies drink about 10 to 12 times a day in their first few weeks of life
  • Babies eat every 3 to 4 hours as they get older


When can I supplement breast feeding?

  • Wait until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old.
  • Waiting allows the mother’s milk supply to be well established.


How often to feed newborn at night

  • Newborn babies feed about every 2 to 3 hours.


When can I give my baby whole milk instead of formula

  • After the baby is 1 year old.
  • Cow’s milk should not be drunk in the first year of life.


Why not to give nonformula milk products during the first year of life?


  • Nonformula cow’s milk (or other milk products) does not provide adequate iron, linoleic acid, or vitamin E, and provides excess sodium, potassium, and protein
  • Exposure to cow’s milk proteins in infancy has been associated with a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes


How much does a formula fed newborn baby eat

  • An average of 2.5 oz (75ml) for every 1 pound (453.5g)
  • Usually about 2 to 3 ounces (60–90 mL) per feeding
  • Always note to see if your baby is showing signs of being full


How often does a formula fed newborn baby eat?

  • Usually about every 3-4 hours


What are the different types of infant formulas?


  • Cow’s milk formula
  • Soy formula
  • Gentle/lactose-reduced formulas
  • Specialty Formulas


What formula is best for premature born babies?


  • Enfamil Enfacare
  • Enfamil Premature
  • Similac Expert Care Neosure
  • Gerber Good Start Nourish
  • Premature babies need more calories, protein, and vitamins than full term babies


What formula is best for babies with cow’s milk and soy protein allergies?


Extensively hydrolyzed formulas like:

  • Nutramigen
  • Alimentum

Elemental formula/ Amino acid-based formulas- for babies that cannot tolerate even the extensively hydrolyzed formulas

  • Nutricia Neocate
  • EleCare


What formula is best for babies with fat malabsorption?


  • Enfamil Pregestimil


What formula is best for babies with Phenylketonuria?


  • Lofenalac
  • Enfamil Phenyl Free


What formula is best for babies with Galactosemia?


  • Gerber Good Start Soy
  • Enfamil Prosobee Soy Base
  • Similac Soy Isomil
  • Avoid all products that contain milk



What is long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) and how do LCPUFAs affect my baby?

  • LCPUFAs is a type of fat that is theorized to be necessary for cognitive development in newborn babies.
  • Breast milk contains adequate amounts of LCPUFAs and is thought to be better than formula milk.
  • Some infant formulas add LCPUFAs


Should I buy infant formula with LCPUFAs?

  • No, multiple studies have shown that LCPUFA supplementation of infant formulas failed to show any significant effect on improving early infant cognition


Is goat milk based formula (GMF) good for babies?


  • Research shows no difference in growth outcomes or frequency of negative events between GMF and CMF (Cow milk based formula)


What are some goat milk based formula (GMF) good for babies?


  • Holle Goat Milk Formula
  • Nanny Care First Infant Milk, Goat Milk Base
  • Kabrita Goat Milk Baby formula


Is goats milk good for babies?


  • Only give after 1 year old
  • Studies show there were no differences in the occurrence of serious adverse events, general health, and incidence of dermatitis or medically diagnosed food allergy between goat milk and cow milk



Photo by Nikolai Chernichenko on Unsplash



Prell, C., & Koletzko, B. (2016). Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding: Recommendations on Infant Nutrition. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International113(25), 435–444.


McNally, J., Hugh‐Jones, S., Caton, S., Vereijken, C., Weenen, H., & Hetherington, M. (2016). Communicating hunger and satiation in the first 2 years of life: a systematic review. Maternal & Child Nutrition12(2), 205–228.


Rossen, L. M., Simon, A. E., & Herrick, K. A. (2016). Types of Infant Formulas Consumed in the United States. Clinical Pediatrics55(3), 278–285.


Xu, M., Wang, Y., Dai, Z., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., & Wang, J. (2015). Comparison of growth and nutritional status in infants receiving goat milk–based formula and cow milk–based formula: a randomized, double-blind study. Food & Nutrition Research59, 10.3402/fnr.v59.28613.



Dieterich, C. M., Felice, J. P., O’Sullivan, E., & Rasmussen, K. M. (2013). Breastfeeding and Health Outcomes for the Mother-Infant Dyad. Pediatric Clinics of North America60(1), 31–48.


Br J Nutr. 2014 May;111(9):1641-51. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513004212


Qawasmi, A., Landeros-Weisenberger, A., Leckman, J. F., & Bloch, M. H. (2012). Meta-analysis of Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation of Formula and Infant Cognition. Pediatrics129(6), 1141–1149.

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