While you might feel overwhelmed and stretched too thin during those first few weeks with your newborn, ultimately, your purpose is to nourish your baby. A newborn's life revolves around a consistent, around-the-clock feeding schedule. Whether you're formula feeding -- and thus bottle feeding full time -- or breastfeeding and offering the occasional bottle, knowing when to feed your newborn is essential in helping your little one grow and thrive.
If you are exclusively formula feeding your newborn, you can expect him to take a bottle every three to four hours during his first few weeks of life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org. During this period, you should offer a bottle within that four-hour window around the clock, even if it means waking your baby to feed him. Expect to bottle feed your newborn formula, on average, 6 to 8 times a day.
You should feed your newborn on demand, according to HealthyChildren.org. So, while a formula-fed newborn typically eats every 3 to 4 hours, you should monitor your baby's cues to determine when she is ready to feed. Early signs of hunger include opening the mouth, sticking out the tongue, puckering the lips in a sucking motion or placing hands in the mouth, according to KidsHealth. Crying, while also a sign of hunger, is a late sign. When you sense your newborn is hungry, you should feed him, no matter the time on the clock.
While exclusive breastfeeding is ideal for newborns, you may opt to introduce a bottle to your baby, because he has a poor latch or because will be separated from him during a feeding. Breastfeeding mothers have more flexibility when offering a bottle of expressed milk. They may choose to do so once a day in between nursing sessions to help their baby get used to the bottle. Others may only use a bottle a few times a week -- or even less. Breastfed newborns eat every 2 to 3 hours around the clock. Introduce the bottle during one of these regular feedings, never exceeding the three-hour limit with a breastfed baby.
Your newborn may hit a couple of growth spurts during the newborn period -- one around 1 to 2 weeks of age and another between 3 and 6 weeks. Nourishment is even more important during this time, so offer your baby a bottle whenever she shows a desire to eat, even if that means she eats more frequently than the standard 2 to 4 hours.