The role of the Registered Nurse or Newborn Care Provider is to feed, soothe, bathe, change & provide all other gentle care to baby through the night.

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Your First Night Home with Baby: Questions About Feeding

In continuation with our “Your First Night Home” series, we answer some of the most common questions our nurses get from new parents about newborn feeding. Your First Night Home Baby Questions, Feeding answers parents frequently asked questions about how much, how often and how to feed their newborns.

Your First Night Home

How often should baby eat? Newborns need to eat every two to three hours but don’t try to get baby on a schedule; follow baby’s lead of on-demand feeding.  For breast fed newborns, this could mean putting baby to breast ten to twelve times per day in the beginning. The more you nurse in the first two weeks, the more plentiful your milk supply will become and the more spaced out feeds will naturally become in the following weeks

My milk hasn’t come in, what do I do?   Mom’s milk will “come in” on day 4 after baby’s birth, typically in the evening hours.  Until then, skin to skin contact and bringing baby to breast even if it seems like s/he’s not getting anything is the best way to promote milk production. Small feeding sessions on-demand, or every 2 hours are the norm. More tips are here to promote milk production are here and remember that baby’s stomach is still tiny...don’t let even the smallest hospital bottle of formula fool you!

Your First Night Home: Feeding FAQ’s

Is my baby eating enough? As long as baby has a wet or soiled diaper after each feed, you’re baby is eating enough. During the first few days, your newborn will likely have about 3-4 wet diapers.  After that, your baby will have around 8-10 wet or soiled diapers a day, but 12-15 is normal too, especially for a breastfed baby.  If your baby does not regularly produce wet or dirty diapers and shows signs of dehydration, such as a dark yellow colored urine, please call your doctor. has 2 videos to show normal intake for breast and formula fed babies.

Are you sure my baby is eating enough? Baby’s belly is the size of a pea, a marble and then a ping pong ball the first 7-10 days after birth.   Small, frequent feeds are the norm at this age. For a bottle fed baby, try giving approximately 25-45 mLs per feeding. Upon finishing, if your baby cries or smacks her lips, she may want more.  If she spits out the bottle, turns her head, or closes her mouth tightly, she’s most likely full.  For bottle fed babies it is much more common that baby has eaten too much, rather than not enough because even with the slowest flow bottle, it is tough for baby to regulate what s/he’s receiving.  Be sure to give baby plently of breaks and time burping when giving milk/formula from a bottle. 

Should I do “wake to feed”?

Should I wake baby to feed?   That is up to pediatrician but most healthy newborns do not need to be woken to feed. One case where wake-to-feed may be recommended is for babies that have jaundice, because continual hydration helps bring down the bilirubin levels that cause jaundice. Another time wake to feed may be recommended is if your baby is underweight when born; in this case they may also need to eat more often. You should talk to your pediatrician abut this.

How do I wake baby to feed? To wake baby, first loosen swaddle and clothes. If this does not work then undress baby down to a onesie. Changing babies diaper can also help waken them to feed.  Turning on the light does not work. In fact, it often encourages a newborn baby to close his or her eyes!

How can I safely handle milk or formula?

How long can breast milk sit out? According to the CDC (Center for Disease control,) a covered container of human breast milk can sit out at room temperature for six to eight hours. (Reference: Handling Breast milk.) It is best to store breast-milk in the fridge, and to not re-heat once it has been warmed.  For more information, please check the Proper Storage and Handling of Human Milk article on the CDC website.

How long can formula sit out?  After formula has been prepared, it can sit at room temperature for an hour. Once baby has fed from a bottle do not save, but discard after use. Remember, when in doubt throw it out.

How do I warm a bottle?

  • If you are warming a bottle that has breast milk use a bottle warmer, or boil water, then pour water in a bowl or cup and place bottle in hot water.
  • If you are warming a formula bottle, use a bottle warmer or a Baby Breeza Temperature Control Kettle. This is wonderful at night because to keeps water at the correct temperature making it super easy to make the perfect bottle.

Can I microwave the bottle? No. Microwaving does not evenly warm a bottle leaving hotspots in the milk that can burn baby.

When should I burp baby? Newborns have an immature digestive system and need help when eating. Part of this is helping baby burp and working out any air/gas bubbles that snuck in while feeding. Make sure to burp throughout feedings and afterwards. Try to hold baby upright and pat on their back. It also helps to hold over shoulder and pat on their back, always supporting their head and neck.

Can I put baby to bed after feeding? Newborns sleep a lot and will probably fall asleep after their feeding. Try to keep the newborn baby upright for at least 10-15 minutes after their feeding to help eliminate any spit up or reflux. Then, you may lay them flat on their backs in their crib or bassinet.

For information about newborn sleep, see our Your First Home with Baby: Questions About Newborn Sleep blog.