breastfeeding advice

Breastfeeding tips for newborns

The first few weeks with a newborn are a steep learning curve for new parents. Midwife Clare Boyle gives some breastfeeding tips for newborns.

How do I know when my baby is hungry and needs to feed?

Your baby will provide you with feeding cues to let you know that he or she is getting hungry. Look for baby bringing the hand to the mouth, opening the mouth as if to latch on, sticking the tongue out, turning the head towards the breast or trying to latch onto your finger, chin or nose! These are all early feeding cues – baby is letting you know that he or she is getting a bit peckish. Crying is a feeding cue that comes last and is often one you can’t ignore, however if you pick up the early feeding cue your baby probably won’t need to cry.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

Keep an eye on the weight gain.
Monitoring how much weight your baby is gaining is a good indicator of how breastfeeding is going. The problem with this is that it isn’t convenient or that easy to do, as you have to go to your GP or public health nurse to get the baby weighed. Because of this, here are some methods that you can use at home as form of daily reassurance that all is going well. But it is good to understand what a breastfed baby’s weight gain should be.

breastfeeding advice

1. The baby will be weighed at birth and this weight is the basis from which all the other weights will be measured. The baby will then be weighed at three days old and usually most babies will lose up to 7% of their birth weight -– this is normal and expected as they are pooing and peeing a lot and only taking in small amounts of colostrum. The baby will then be expected to return to birth weight by the second week (14 days).

2. A public health nurse will weigh the baby when she comes to do the home visit after you are discharged from hospital. This is usually around day five to seven, so this will give you an idea that your baby’s weight is moving back to the birth weight.

3. After your baby has regained the birth weight, the weight gain is usually around 5 – 7 ounces a week or about an ounce a day. In grams; 140g – 200g a week or around 20g a day. This weight gain pattern is expected to continue until about three to four months.

The clue is in the poos!

Monitoring your baby’s bowel movements is a convenient and handy way to ensure that baby is getting enough breast milk. As we can’t measure how much a baby is drinking with breastfeeding, it is necessary to have an easy guide to reassure us that baby is getting enough, one way of doing this is to monitor the output – the poos and pees. In the first few days after the birth the baby will poo a dark green tarry substance called meconium. Usually, the baby will do one or two poos of meconium each day for the first three days.

After the first three days the mature breast milk will be reaching the baby’s intestines and then the baby is expected to poo about three to five times in a 24-hour period and the poos should become a golden yellow colour. The baby should also be having about six to eight wet nappies a day – what the output shows us it that the baby is getting enough in to grow and put on weight and also enough to produce bowel movements and urine.

Feeding often

1. Your baby should be feeding at least eight times in a 24-hour period with each feed being at least ten minutes of active sucking.

2. Baby should be active and alert.

3. Your baby should have periods where he or she is active and alert. In each 24-hour period, there should be several five to 10 minute periods when your baby is awake and alert, these periods are called a ‘quiet alert state,’ and will become more frequent and last longer over the coming weeks.

4. Baby should be filling out and growing longer.

5. You will start to notice that your baby is growing out of his or her newborn baby clothes.

More you might like:

Burping your baby
Expressing breast milk
8 things to do while breastfeeding


Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.

Treating baby's high temperature

Treating baby’s high temperature

A high temperature can be a sign that your baby is fighting off infection. If you have any concern, it’s best to be safe and take him to your doctor immediately.


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.