Looking after a newborn is a round-the-clock job, involving feeding, nappy changing and night vigils as very young babies tend to sleep more during the day.
If you are breastfeeding, your main aim is to establish milk production, which means frequent feeding – intervals between feeds vary according to your baby’s weight, prematurity and general health, so seek advice from your healthcare professional. Whatever your feeding choice, it will be hard to establish a routine before six weeks – and even then it will be subject to changes as your baby develops mentally and physically.
It is advisable to be flexible about schedules, which doesn’t mean you have to live in chaos, but being ready to make alterations now and then to meet your baby’s needs. At first your baby is adjusting to a bright, noisy and big world – their erratic sleep patterns might require you to change your sleeping and eating routine, and rest when your baby does.
As your baby’s stomach grows, feeds will get more spaced and your baby will be able to sleep longer at night. This won’t happen for several weeks, so count yourself lucky if your baby sleeps three-four hours at night from early on. To teach your baby the difference between night and day, try feeding at night with dimmed lights and avoid stimulation like talking or singing.
If you breastfeed, feeding on demand is the best way to establish a good milk supply. In the early days, your baby will need feeding 8-12 times in 24 hours. When your milk ‘comes in’, your breasts will fill up and feel rock hard. Feeds will last longer and gradually they will be spaced out, although most babies cluster feed in the late afternoon and evening to be able to go longer at night without feeding. Soon a pattern will develop and you will see a routine to your babies feeding times.
If you are bottlefeeding, the amount of formula milk and feeding routines depend on your baby’s age and circumstances (if your baby had a low birth weight or is premature their feeding requirements will differ, so discuss this with your healthcare professional).On average, up to two months, your baby will have around six feeds per day, each of 90-120ml (3-4oz). This will go up to 210ml (7oz) per bottle up to one year of age.