Initial feeds should be 3-4 hourly during the day and night and, once regular weight gain is adequate, 3-4 hourly by day and on demand at night. Some babies only manage 2 hours in between feeds initially- this should stretch once they are able to drink more at one time. Breastfeeding is ideal for babies for several reasons including bonding and skin contact, cost, convenience, allergy prevention and to boost their immune systems. The clinic sisters and staff and dedicated breastfeeding specialists have vast experience with breastfeeding, please consult them for advice if you are battling.
However, not all mothers manage to breast feeds or have insufficient milk- nothing to feel guilty about. There is a vast choice of formula milks and the approximate volume that a baby needs for the first few months is 150 mL milk per kg per day (divide this volume into the number of feeds per day). For example, a 4 kg baby on formula milk who feeds 3 hourly needs approximately 150 x 4= 600 mL per day; ie approximately 75 mL per feed every 3 hours. (8 feeds per day)
Some babies need less milk, some need more- the best way to judge is by their weight gain. For this reason we plot babies’ weights on the growth chart regularly to make sure they are not falling off the growth curve.
Babies lose weight during the first few days of life- loss of up to 10% of their birth weight is normal. The baby should regain its birth weight by 2 weeks of age. After that, for the first 3 months or so weight gain should be between 150-350 grams per week. After 3 months it slows down somewhat.
Solids can be introduced any time from 4 months (17 weeks) onwards. Throughout the first year of life milk is the most important component of the infant’s diet, and even on 3 solids meals a day, during the first year the infant requires at least 450-600 ml milk per 24 hours. After the age of one, milk can be cut down gradually to 300-500 mL per day- overfeeding with milk after a year of age will interfere with an appetite for solids and may lead to problems such as anaemia.
From about 14 months or so many toddlers notoriously go through a fussy eating stage-their growth curve naturally slows down and the world around them is SO much more interesting than food! It is therefore important to try and introduce a great variety of foods to the toddler before the fussy stage begins.
See also: section on Solids Introduction