on your new baby!
Your baby is growing and changing every day.
All babies are different, but they all use movements and noises to tell us when they’re hungry, full, uncomfortable or just tired.
What should I feed
Breast milk is the perfect food.
- It has all the nutrients your baby needs to help them not get sick.
- It changes as your baby grows. The longer you breastfeed, the longer you and your baby will benefit.
- Breastfeeding exclusively (offering no formula, no solid foods and no water) provides the most health benefits and is recommended for the first 6 months.
- Talk with your baby’s healthcare provider if you are exclusively breastfeeding to ask if your baby may need extra vitamin D.
Breast milk gives your baby the best start in life.
Be prepared. Learn everything you can about breastfeeding. The more you know, the more confident you will be.
Find support. Breastfeeding may not always be easy. Know who you can call for support. WIC can help.
Breastfeed often. The more milk removed from the breasts, the more milk the breasts will make. Feed your baby as often as your baby wants.
Breast milk or baby formula with iron is all your baby needs to grow and develop for the first 6 months.
Whether it’s breast milk or formula in the bottle:
- Allow your baby to be in control of how fast they drink from the bottle. Trust them to know when they are full. Do not make your baby finish a bottle.
- Keep prepared bottles in a refrigerator until you are ready to feed your baby and use them within 24 hours.
- Use prepared infant formula within two hours after taking it out of the refrigerator. Once your baby starts feeding, throw away any formula left in the bottle after one hour.
- Never microwave breast milk or formula. This destroys important nutrients, and “hot spots” can burn your baby’s mouth. Warm up bottles in hot water.
Formula provides everything needed
for your baby to grow strong.
When following a recipe, it’s important to correctly mix ingredients. It’s the same for mixing formula! Follow the mixing directions on the can. Always add water to the bottle first, then the powder formula.
Your Baby Needs Your Touch
Hold your baby when you feed them a bottle.
They love to see your face. Propping up a bottle can lead to choking, and can even cause ear infections.
When feeding from a bottle, only give breast milk or formula. Do not put food or baby cereal in the bottle; doing this increases your baby’s risk of choking.
How often should I feed my baby?
Feed every 1½ to 3 hours, or 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
If bottle feeding, start by offering only a small amount at a time, 2 to 3 ounces of breast milk or formula, until you get to know your baby.
Remember, all babies are different. They eat different amounts from one day to the next. As your baby becomes older and their stomach grows, they may eat less often, but can eat more at each feeding.
Sleepy babies may need to be woken up to eat.
Newborns have very small stomachs and need to be fed often.
Click here to see what the size of your baby’s stomach is at these certain ages:
A marble or cherry
A large egg
Look for Baby’s Signs
Babies show signs to let you know what they need. If you look for these signs, you can respond to your baby before they start to cry. It is much easier to feed a calm baby!
When hungry, your baby may:
- Bring hands to or near the mouth
- Move arms and legs
- Make sucking noises
- Move mouth or tongue
- Turn head or search for the nipple (root)
Feed your baby before they get too hungry. A hungry baby may cry, but they will also show these other signs.
When full, your baby may:
- Suck slower or stop sucking
- Relax hands and arms
- Turn away from the nipple
- Push away
- Fall asleep
These signs mean they’re ready to stop eating.
Your baby is able to tell you what they need without words, just by using their body movements. Responding to your baby’s signs can help them be calm and happy.
Why do babies cry?
Crying is normal. It’s one way your baby tells you they need something. Responding to your baby’s needs will teach your baby that you care. Holding your baby will not spoil your baby.
Tips to Help
- Crying doesnʼt always mean your baby is hungry. Look for signs to see what your baby is telling you.
- Try to be patient. It could take several minutes before your baby settles down. If your baby keeps crying or gets more upset, try something else.
- Babies calm most easily when sounds and actions are repeated. Try:
- Rocking or swaying back and forth in a steady rhythm.
- Singing the same tune softly, over and over.
- Hold your baby close to your body, so your baby can hear your heartbeat.
- If you notice yourself getting angry, put the baby down in the crib or a safe place, walk out of the room and take some deep breaths to calm down.
- Do not shake your baby―EVER! Babies have weak neck muscles. Shaking a baby can cause brain damage and even death.
When babies go through growth spurts they may eat more than usual.
Every baby is different, but typical growth spurts often occur at:
During growth spurts, your baby’s schedule may change and they may want to eat and sleep more than usual.
Babies need more food as they grow.
Your body will make more milk to meet your baby’s needs. The more often you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you will make.
If your baby acts hungry after finishing a bottle, give another 1 or 2 ounces.
Babies younger than 6 months of age do not need water, even in hot weather. Breast milk or formula provides all the water a baby needs.
In general, if you’re changing 6 to 8 wet and poopy diapers each day your baby is probably eating enough. Talk with WIC or your baby’s health care provider if you have concerns about your baby gaining weight and growing well.
When will my baby
As your baby gets older, their sleep will change and become more predictable.
Babies must wake up to be fed and when they need to feel safe and comfortable.
Every baby is different – the ages below are a general guide.
Babies may have times when they wake up more often due to growth spurts, sickness, change in routine or learning a new skill such as rolling over or crawling.
Tips for Sleepy Caregivers
These tips will not make your baby sleep through the night, but they may help YOU get a few more minutes of sleep.
- Keep the lights low while you feed, burp or change your babyʼs diaper.
- Rest while your baby sleeps – even sitting quietly can help you feel more rested.
- Try background noise. Play music softly or turn on a quiet fan so you wonʼt wake up to every little sound your baby makes. You can still hear when your baby really needs you, but you wonʼt wake up with every movement.
- Always put your baby on their back to sleep.
- Use a firm mattress.
- Keep pillows, quilts and toys out of the bed. Babies can suffocate if a blanket, toy or pillow covers their mouth.
- Share your room, but not your bed. Your baby should sleep alone in a crib, pack ‘nʼ play or bassinet.
Keep baby safe and healthy.
- Babies do not need juice or sweet drinks. These have a lot of sugar and fill baby’s tummy.
- Clean your baby’s gums and any teeth with a clean, wet, soft cloth after eating or drinking, especially before bed.
- Don’t share spoons or clean off pacifiers with your mouth. Germs can go from your mouth to your baby’s and may cause cavities and illness.
- Protect your baby and family from secondhand smoke. Do not allow anyone to smoke near your baby, in your home or car.
- Cow’s milk or other non-dairy milks (like soy or almond milk). It’s too hard for your baby’s young body to digest and may cause health problems.
- Honey and foods made with honey. Honey can contain bacteria that cause infant botulism, a serious illness. These bacteria are harmless to older kids and adults.
When can my baby eat solid foods?
Wait until your baby is about 6 months of age before offering solid foods. Your baby needs time to develop their immune system and the muscles in their mouth so they can learn to eat and swallow foods properly.
You’re doing the best thing for your baby by waiting to offer solid foods until they’re ready. Feeding solid foods too early may lead to:
- Not enough nutrition from breast milk or formula
- Too much weight gain
- Increase risk of choking
- Food intolerances
The Scoop on Poop,
Spit Up and Burps
Babies spit up less if they are calm when they eat and if they stop eating when they are full.
- Babies swallow air when they eat and may need to be burped. However, not all babies burp after eating.
- Wait until after your baby stops eating to burp. When nursing, burp when switching to the other breast.
- To burp, hold your baby with their tummy against your chest or lap and gently pat or rub your baby’s back.
Birth to about 2 weeks
Your baby’s first poop will be black and sticky. A few days after your baby is born their poop will change from black to green, to yellow or tan. Newborn babies should poop at least once a day.
When babies are about four days old, it’s typical to have 3-4 poops a day, each the size of a quarter or more. Breastfed babies have loose (soft to runny), yellow poop that may be seedy or chunky looking, which is normal.
About 2 to 4 weeks
It is normal for your baby to poop 3-4 times a day or more. Some babies poop every time they eat.
After 4 to 6 weeks
Some babies start to poop less often. Your baby may have one or more poops a day. Or it can be normal if your baby poops only once every 3 to 5 days, as long as they are gaining weight and growing.
If you have concerns about your baby’s poop, talk to your baby’s health care provider.
Play with me!
Play with your baby when they are alert and relaxed.
Put a blanket on the floor and place your baby on their tummy. Watch your baby stretch and move their arms and legs.
Putting your baby down on the floor to move helps your baby become strong, learn to roll over and explore. Try not to keep your baby in swings, strollers, bouncer seats and exercise saucers for too long.
PLAY HELPS ME…
bond with you
Look what I can do!
I’m ready to learn about you, about me and the world I live in. I learn best when I feel happy, loved and safe.
Birth to 3 Months
Your baby knows your voice.
Talk to your baby. They will find your voice calming.
Show things to your baby and talk about them. Your baby will like to watch you and learn what you do.
Read to your baby. This will help your baby develop and understand language and sounds.
Track your child’s development with easy-to-use checklists, visit www.cdc.gov/milestonetracker
4 to 6 Months
Your baby will start to settle into a routine.
- Try to stick to a schedule for sleeping and other activities so your baby learns what to expect.
- Your baby may sleep for a longer stretch of time, about 4 to 6 hours at a time.
Your baby is growing strong and active. Your baby:
- Can hold their head up.
- Uses their hands to pick things up and put them in their mouth. Keep an eye on your baby so they don’t choke.
- Knows their name when you say it.
- Babbles “ba-ba-ba!”.
- May like to play ‘peek-a-boo’ and ‘pat-a-cake’.