Early in life, most babies eat every 3 to 4 hours, although some babies feed as often as every 2 hours. It may help your baby get on a schedule if you feed at regular intervals. Or you can let your baby set the schedule—some babies need to nurse more often than others. Sometimes your baby will need to feed more often than she usually does. See how often your baby wants to feed and whether she is growing properly. These are the best guides to feeding your baby.
Usually as the baby grows older, she waits longer between feedings and feeds longer at each feeding.
How Much to Feed?
A baby is usually the best judge of how much he or she should take at each feeding. Usually a baby will turn away from the nipple (mother or bottle) when he is full.
OK to Give Water?
Discuss the matter of giving your baby water to drink with your healthcare provider. Much depends on your baby's weight, how well he is doing and whether he is hungry or thirsty. Your healthcare provider will give you answers.
It's a good idea to burp your baby after each feeding. Some babies need to be burped during a feeding as well. Hold your baby over your shoulder or sit your baby in your lap, and gently rub or pat the back. You will probably want to place a towel over your shoulder or at least have one handy in case he or she spits up. If your baby doesn't burp, don't force it.
Spitting up is common during the early months of life because the muscle at the top of the stomach is not yet fully developed. When a baby spits up enough to propel the stomach contents several inches, it is called vomiting. If your baby vomits after a feeding, do not feed him or her again immediately—the stomach may be upset. It may be wise to wait until the next feeding time.
Breastfeeding Is Best for Baby
If you can breastfeed, we have found it is best for the baby. Breast milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs, and it's easy to digest. Breastfed babies have lower rates of infections, and breastfeeding provides the baby a sense of security and the mother a sense of self-esteem. However, if there are reasons you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, be assured that your baby will do well on formula. If you cannot breastfeed, it will not harm your baby. Don't feel guilty if you don't breastfeed. Sometimes you cannot breastfeed because of a physical condition or other problem. Sometimes you choose not to breastfeed because of other demands on your time, such as a job or other children to care for. Your baby can still get all the love and attention and nutrition he or she needs if breastfeeding is not possible for you.