The birth of a baby not only makes a woman feel more complete but also it instigates a feeling of responsibility in her. The fact that you have brought a life into this world and can nurture him can make you feel vulnerable and empowered at the same time. Though your newborn will depend on you for all his needs, the very first thing he would need after birth would be food and he is gonna need a lot of it on the first day. 

  1. First breastfeeding
  2. Colostrum
  3. The right breastfeeding position
  4. Bottle Feeding your baby in the first 24 hours
  5. Right way to bottle feed your newborn
  6. How often you should feed a newborn?
  7. Should you wake a newborn to feed?
Doctors for Feeding your baby in the first 24 hours

First breastfeeding is said to be crucial for both the mother and the baby. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breastfeeding newborns within the first hour of birth improves their chances of survival and promotes their mental and physical development

And for the mother, it promotes milk production and initiates the ‘letting down’ reflex - squeezing down of stored breast milk to nipples. Experts suggest that for a positive breastfeeding experience, it is important that you feed your baby within the first 2 hours of birth. Your baby will start to show signs that he is ready for feeding within the first hour.

However, feeding a newborn may seem a bit tricky at first. Your baby may not latch properly or you might not be able to get in a comfortable position for proper latching. Some mothers experience sore nipples or pain in nipples when they begin breastfeeding. 

But you don’t have to be disheartened if you are facing any of the above problems. Your body is still a bit tender after delivery, as you get the hang of it, breastfeeding would eventually become easier.

(Read more: How to increase breastmilk naturally at home)

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For the first two to three days after birth, your breasts will produce a yellow and dense liquid instead of milk. This liquid is known as colostrum. It is rich in antibodies and helps protect your baby against infections until the development of his immune system. 

Your baby is born with a marble sized stomach and you will have to feed him every 2-3 hours to keep him full and content. Feed your baby as often he wants or demands. Breastfeeding can be very emotional experience for you. It is an ideal situation to strengthen your bond with your little one through skin to skincare.

There is no ‘one perfect position’ to breastfeed your baby. It all depends on your comfort and what works best for you and your baby. Generally, your infant should be positioned so that they are facing your body and their head, shoulders and hips should be in alignment. Some of the most commonly used positions include:

  • Cradle position: Cradle your baby in the same arm as the breast he/she is feeding on while holding him/her in your lap.
  • Cross-cradle position: Cradle your baby with the opposite arm as the breast he/she is feeding on while holding him/her in your lap.
  • Clutch position: This works best for mothers who have a forceful let down - milk ejection with a force. For this, put a cushion on your lap and cradle your baby under your arm - his legs, should be secured under your arms. Now supporting his/her head with your palm, bring him/her to your breast to feed. 
  • Side-lying position: Feeding your baby while you are lying beside and parallel to him/her.

Also, making sure of certain things may help you avoid breast pain and ensure that your baby is feeding properly:

  • Your baby will need to gape to get a good grip over your breasts. Always bring your baby to your breasts and not vice versa. With the right latch, your baby’s mouth would cover your areola - the darker skin around the nipples.
  • You can help your baby latch by supporting your breast. Just hold your breast with your thumb at the top and fingers at the bottom of your nipple leaving only the nipple and areola to latch onto.
  • The newborn’s head should be a bit tilted with the nose at a distance from your breasts so that he can breathe while he is feeding. 
  • Your baby may flare his/her nostrils while feeding - another sign of proper latching. 
  • Soothe and calm your baby if he is crying, never try to force him to your breasts. (Read more: Why do babies cry in the first 24 hours)
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While breastfeeding is the best way to feed your newborn, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that women who can’t breastfeed or decide not to can opt for formula milk. It’s completely safe and has its own advantages. Special infant formulas are being sold by various brands, which can be given to the baby from the first day on. They usually contain easily digestible proteins such as whey and are made to mimic breast milk. Make sure to check the label before buying any formula milk, there are various types depending on the age of the baby. 

If you can, expressing and storing your own breast milk is also an option. You can use a breast pump or use your own hands to express the milk into a bottle to be fed to the baby later. According to the NHS, breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator at about four degrees for up to 24 hours. Do not heat the milk directly, instead, put it in warm water for a while.The feed should be lukewarm. Do not re-refrigerate the milk once thawed. Also  make sure to sterilise the bottle and teat before every feed.

  • Sit comfortably and hold your baby upright
  • Gently, brush the bottle’s teat against his lips to encourage him to take it. Wait until he opens his mouth wide and draws in the teat
  • Support his head so he can comfortably breathe and swallow as he takes his feed
  • Try to stay relaxed and calm - look into his eyes as you feed him. Talk to him or sing to him as he enjoys his feed.
  • Always keep the teat full of milk, otherwise your baby will take in air
  • If the teat gets blocked, replace it with another sterile teat 
  • Never reuse the leftover formula for the next feed. 
  • Never leave your baby alone to feed. They may choke on the milk.

As a final note: Always burp your baby after every feed. When your baby has had enough milk, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back to bring up any wind.

On average, a newborn baby feeds 8 to 12 times a day, that is every 1.5 to three hours. Some babies need food every hour. As per the National Health Service (NHS), U.K., it is completely alright to feed your baby every time he/she feels like it. Most newborns have their own signs to tell the mother that they are hungry. But the most common ones include:

  • Restlessness
  • Sucking their fist or finger
  • Turning their head and opening mouth 
  • Making murmuring sounds

The NHS suggests feeding the baby every time he/she gives you these cues.

Whether you should wake a sleeping newborn for feedings depends on the baby's age, weight and overall health.

In his first day, your baby will sleep most of the time but he needs to be fed every 2-3 hours. Newborn sleep is mostly ruled by hunger. They naturally wake up after every 2-3 hours to get their feed. However, you should wake your newborn if he or she sleeps for a stretch of more than four hours.

Dr. Mayur Kumar Goyal

Dr. Mayur Kumar Goyal

10 Years of Experience

Dr. Gazi Khan

Dr. Gazi Khan

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Dr. Himanshu Bhadani

Dr. Himanshu Bhadani

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Dr. Pavan Reddy

Dr. Pavan Reddy

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  1. Pregnancy, Childbirth, Postpartum and Newborn Care: A Guide for Essential Practice. 3rd edition. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015. K, BREASTFEEDING, CARE, PREVENTIVE MEASURES AND TREATMENT FOR THE NEWBORN.
  2. National Guidelines For Infant And Young Child Feeding. Ministry of Human Resource Development Department of Women And Child Development( Food And Nutrition Board) Govt. of India 2004
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Infant and Newborn Nutrition
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; How Much and How Often to Feed Infant Formula
  5. Office on women's health [internet]: US Department of Health and Human Services; Getting a good latch
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