4. Expect variations in your newborn's eating patterns

Your newborn won't necessarily eat the same amount every day. During growth spurts — often at two to three weeks after birth and again at six weeks after birth — your newborn might take more at each feeding or want to be fed more often. Respond to early signs of hunger, rather than keeping a strict eye on the clock.

5. Trust your instincts — and your newborn's

You might worry that your newborn isn't eating enough, but babies usually know just how much they need. Don't focus on how much, how often or how regularly your newborn eats. Instead, look for:

  • Steady weight gain
  • Contentment between feedings
  • By the fifth day after birth, at least six wet diapers and three or more bowel movements a day

Contact the doctor if your newborn isn't gaining weight, wets fewer than six diapers a day or shows little interest in feedings.

6. Consider each feeding a time to bond with your newborn

Hold your newborn close during each feeding. Look him or her in the eye. Speak with a gentle voice. Use each feeding as an opportunity to build your newborn's sense of security, trust and comfort.

7. Know when to ask for help

If you're having trouble breast-feeding, ask a lactation consultant or your baby's doctor for help — especially if every feeding is painful or your baby isn't gaining weight. If you haven't worked with a lactation consultant, ask your baby's doctor for a referral or check with the obstetrics department at a local hospital.

Apr. 12, 2012 See more In-depth