• Penni from Up Up n Away

Newborns : Nutrition

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

newborn nutrition feeding breastfeeding bottle feeding development growth

Good nutrition is essential for your baby’s survival, physical and mental development, productivity, performance, and health and wellbeing for their life ahead.

Breastfeeding, complimentary feeding, and/or non-breastfeeding are critical aspects of newborn and baby development. Feeding stimulates bonding, promotes healthy growth, reduces susceptibility to illness and disease, and increases their resistance. Breastfeeding is regarded to be the ‘best’ source of sustenance for Newborns and Babies, ideally up to at least 6 months of age. However some women are not able to Breastfeed, and we will discuss the appropriate substitutes later on in the article.

Babies require regular feeding throughout the day and up until 6-9 months, during the night as well. Your baby’s appetite will vary from day to day and month to month. You will begin to recognise his cues and may be able to tell when your baby is hungry.

How much milk your baby needs will depend on his weight, age, and development. See our breastfeeding and formula feeding guidelines below for information regarding the amount of milk to feed your baby.


Breastmilk is the food designed by nature for your baby. From the moment your baby is born your breasts generally produce Colostrum: the thick nutrient-rich beginnings of your breastmilk, which will nourish your baby until your hindmilk appears a few days after birth.

For their first 6 months, babies require nothing other than milk to eat or drink. Breastfeeding is convenient and free, and your milk is perfectly suited to your baby’s nutritional needs and plays a large role in protecting your baby from infection, illness, and disease.

Most women can breastfeed without too many problems. It is vital to receive the right help and support as Breastfeeding is not without its challenges.

It is crucial that you are healthy and eating the right foods, as the quality of your milk will largely depend on your diet. A balanced diet and a high intake of food rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein will help you be optimally healthy for you and your child. Likewise, there are certain foods and drinks which are best avoided while you are breastfeeding.

How often should you Breastfeed?

Generally, breastfed babies require 8-12 feeds per day for the first month. Breastfed babies may require more milk than formula-fed babies as it digests more easily and therefore may make your baby hungrier more often. Babies tend to communicate when they are hungry. This may be by crying in the first few months, but it's important to remember that crying may not the first indication your baby will give that she is hungry. Smacking her lips, opening and closing her mouth, ‘rooting’ around on your chest while being held, or putting their hands or fingers to their mouth can all be indications of hunger.

Generally, a newborn will require feeding every 1.5-3 hours. It is important to note that newborn babies should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding, even overnight. How long your baby spends feeding on each breast depends on what works for you and your baby. Some babies may be satisfied after 5 minutes on each breast, others may need 15 minutes on each side. By 1-2 months of age, you may be nursing your baby 7-9 times a day.

It's important to note that the intervals of time between feeds are generally calculated from when your baby begins to nurse, rather than when the feed ends. In other words, if you are feeding every two hours and you start feeding at 6 am and finish at 6.30 am, your next feed is due at 8 am.

From around 3 months of age and onwards your baby's feeding patterns will continue to develop, and you will start to gauge their feeding needs and routines. They will begin to feed less number of times while ingesting more milk each time. Eventually, by around 6-9 months you may be incorporating solids in with your Breastmilk feeds – read more on Complimentary Feeding


Some women find breastfeeding does not begin smoothly and maybe physically uncomfortable or difficult at first. It may take learning and practice by you and your baby. Even when you are getting it right it may still be uncomfortable. Always refer to your lactation consultant or child health nurse to get the help and support you need for successful feeding. Breastfeeding problems for women can include sore nipples, issues with latching on, or mastitis. These problems can usually be sorted out with the right care.

Your baby too may have difficulties feeding. There are techniques to adjust and perfect their ability to ‘latch on’, speak to your lactation consultant or Nurse for support. Your baby may also suffer from Reflux – where your baby spits up large amounts of their milk during most feeds. This is generally not cause for concern, but if you feel your baby is not gaining enough weight or seems to be in pain, don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare provider.