Feeding A Newborn Baby

Feeding A Newborn Baby

The other important activity for the new baby is feeding. Many mothers who are going to breastfeed put their babies to the breast very soon after birth. This is sometimes successful, but there is no need to worry if the baby does not appear to be interested. The mother may find that the baby cries when hungry and is soon able to suck efficiently at the breast. Some babies do need help to learn to suck, so the mother should not be impatient the first couple of times her baby fails. An important reflex in the newborn baby is the rooting reflex. If the baby’s cheek touches the breast or is stroked with a finger he or she will turn towards the stimulus and try to suck. Babies also have gagging and swallowing reflexes to enable them to feed well straight away.

The new baby has plenty of body water, and needs little in the way of fluid in the first few days. The colostrum, which is the early milk produced by the mother’s breasts, is well suited to these needs because it is rich but scanty. The baby will loose some excess fluid during its first days, resulting in a normal weight loss of about five per cent. This is usually regained by the end of the first week to ten days.

The first urine may be passed very soon, but often it is some hours before a baby produces a damp nappy. Most babies have emptied their bladder within the first 24 hours. The first stools are also usually passed during the first day. Sometimes, if there has been some distress during labour, the baby passes its first stools before or very soon after birth. At first these are black and sticky, and called meconium. This continues to be the case until milk feeding is established, and then the baby produces what are known as transitional stools, usually by the third or fourth day. These are greenish-brown, and gradually change to the usually yellowish milk stools. The number of bowel movements varies greatly, but new babies often have three to six daily.