It is my belief that full feedings can and should begin from birth.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed formula and/or breast milk, what is important is that you feed your baby within 5 minutes of waking up and commit to feeding fully each time you feed.
What is considered a full feed?
• Breastfeeding = 30-40 minutes total feeding time
• Bottle-feeding = 30 minutes to finish bottle (amount will vary depending on age and individual needs but should align with the recommendation of your pediatrician)
During the period from birth to 4 weeks old, your biggest challenge will be to accomplish full feedings, especially if your baby arrived early. Most babies spend these first weeks in a constant state of sleep and struggle to remain awake long enough to eat. You must keep them them awake to eat. I have seen mother/baby nurses, NICU nurses, and doulas use measures to keep a baby awake long enough to take a full feeding. Some examples of these efforts include placing a cold wipe on baby’s foot and/or taking off baby’s clothes to ‘wake them up’. While you may feel that waking them to eat or stimulating them to ensure a full feeding is unnatural, I can assure it is necessary for proper nutrition and essential to get them sleeping through the night.