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How To Feed A Newborn: Answers to Your Most Perplexing Puzzlers

Open mouth, insert food: Those have long been the eating instructions you’ve followed. But when you have a little mouth to feed, all sorts of questions crop up. We’ve got the answers!

It’s been four hours since I nursed my baby, but she’s fast asleep. Do I wake her up to feed?

Your mother might have told you to never wake a sleeping baby, but the truth is some babies do need to be woken up to feed if they’re not gaining weight as expected. "My first child wasn’t gaining weight normally, so I had to get him up every two hours in the beginning to nurse," says Kelly Stringer, a mother of two in DuBois, Pennsylvania. Your doctor can best guide you. If you’ve got a newborn who’s growing well and is sleeping for long stretches between feedings, count your blessings.

I’m trying to get my 8-week-old to start taking a bottle in preparation for my return to work in a month, but he refuses. What can I do?

"Try having Dad, a relative, or a caregiver give the baby the bottle a few times," says Roy Benaroch, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta. Your baby associates you with breastfeeding, so it can be easier and less confusing for him if someone else offers the bottle. Experiment with a variety of bottle nipples to find the one your baby likes best.

How do I know when to start my baby on solids?

Most babies are ready for solids somewhere between four and sixth months of age. Signs that your baby may be ready: He can sit up with some help, he puts his fingers or toys in his mouth, he opens his mouth to show he wants food, and he can close his lips around a spoon and swallow food. For his first meal, go with an iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. "Don't worry in the beginning about how much the baby’s getting," says Dr. Benaroch. "These first feedings are more about practicing eating than getting a lot of nutrition." If your baby doesn’t seem interested, back off and try again in a few days. Rest assured, he’ll be eating like a champ very soon.

I’d like to start pumping to build up a stash of breast milk. What’s the best time of day to pump?

Many moms find their supply is greatest either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. "If my freezer supply is dwindling," says Lisa Staton, a mother of two from Seattle, Washington, "I’ll pump for 15 or 20 minutes right before I go bed. It’s actually relaxing."

I’m unable to breastfeed for a variety reasons, and want to give my baby the best kind of formula. Is organic formula worth the higher price tag?

Pediatricians’ opinions vary. While some believe feeding babies a mostly organic diet is healthiest, others point out that infant formulas are highly regulated in the United States and there’s no evidence that organic formulas are any better for babies than the regular kind. Talk it over with your pediatrician to make the best decision for you and your child.

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