Up to 5 Days Old

Congratulations! You have just delivered your newborn. The first few days after delivery are an adjustment for you and your baby. Your healthcare provider will want to schedule a follow-up appointment within the first five days after you are discharged to ensure your baby adapts well to life outside the womb. At their first appointment, your pediatrician will conduct an unclothed physical exam of your baby, including taking their length and weight. Don’t forget to bring an extra diaper or two to get your baby’s most accurate weight. Your pediatrician may also ask questions about your baby’s eating schedule and first sources of nutrition. Check out the Nutrient Needs and Family Engagement Activity sections below to develop a plan to feed your baby.

Developmental Milestones

Your baby has involuntary reflexes that happen without trying and can change to voluntary behavior as they react to the world around them. Some of these reflexes include rooting and sucking.

    • Rooting happens when your baby turns their head toward something that strokes their cheek or mouth. This involuntary reflex is a survival instinct that helps your baby find the bottle’s nipple or breast at feeding time. This automatic reflex lasts for the first 4 to 6 months of life before becoming a voluntary action and often encourages your baby to begin sucking at each feeding.
    • Sucking is a reflex that your baby forms in the womb around 32 weeks gestation and continues to develop after birth. Sucking can be broken into two steps. First, your baby will compress the nipple with their mouth while creating a suction around it to draw out milk. Next, a tongue milking action helps remove more milk from the breast or bottle. Not all babies can suck well at first, and it may take time and practice to coordinate breathing with sucking.

Nutrition Needs

The "Golden Hour"

The “Golden Hour” refers to the first hour of life when your baby is placed on your bare chest, known as skin-to-skin contact. This is a great way to soothe and bond with your newborn. Eventually, they will start to look for your breast, using their rooting reflex to latch onto your nipple and begin sucking. Since this is the first time your baby is latching, have patience. They may fail on the first try. When your baby latches, it should also be pain-free and comfortable for you. If you are experiencing pain or irritation, talk with a lactation consultant to help alleviate this concern. It is okay not to produce much milk on the first try. Your baby’s stomach is the size of a marble or about one teaspoon at birth. Any breastmilk you give to your newborn will set them up for success. While the “Golden Hour” encourages early latching and breastfeeding success, any time you or your partner have skin-to-skin contact with your baby can help form a lasting bond.

Breastfeeding Recommendations

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization encourage mothers to breastfeed for at least the first two years of life or as long as possible. If you are concerned about breastfeeding while returning to work, talk with your employer to plan a time to pump throughout your workday. Remember, every ounce of breastmilk you give your baby can go a long way. Mothers and infants who breastfeed have protection from certain illnesses and long-term diseases, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. The Family Engagement Activity below can help you create an Infant Feeding Plan for your baby’s first few hours, days, and weeks of life. This can be a guide for you and can be flexible to meet your needs and desires.

Secrets to Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is not a choice for every mom, but if you do choose to breastfeed, you may want to build your milk supply. Here are some tips for helping you to reach this goal:

      • Latch often and every time you are scheduled to feed your baby. Your body will make more milk to meet your baby’s needs.
      • Try hand expressing or using a pump if you feel more milk in your breasts to help draw out what milk remains and signal your body to make more milk.
      • Make sure you are well-nourished and hydrated to support your milk production. Your body requires about 400 extra calories than your standard, pre-pregnancy diet to produce breastmilk throughout the day.
      • Your baby can taste the food that you eat through your breast milk. Some foods may cause your baby gas, diarrhea, or a rash. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare provider for guidance on eliminating certain foods that can upset your baby’s stomach.
      • While breastfeeding is the goal, there are many reasons why a feeding plan may change. Talk with your pediatrician or healthcare provider about how to supplement your baby’s diet with formula to meet their increasing energy needs.

Family Engagement Activity

  • Texas WIC’s breastfeeding support page, BreastmilkCounts.com, offers excellent advice for breastfeeding your baby. Check out their Infant Feeding Plan if you want more information on how to start supporting your baby’s growth and development.

Caregiver's Corner

Newborn's Sleeping Habits: Dos and Don'ts

Dr. Lawrence Quang, the Division Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at CHRISTUS Children’s, discusses essential Dos and Don’ts on supporting your newborn’s sleeping habits.

    • Do encourage your newborn to sleep about 16-17 hours a day in 1- or 2-hour increments. Babies do not develop a regular sleep schedule until about six months old.
    • Don’t let your baby sleep in your bed. This is known as co-sleeping or bed-sharing and is hazardous to your baby. Co-sleeping causes an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is an unexpected and unexplained death of a baby under one-year-old.
    • Do put your baby to sleep in their crib or bassinet. Having your baby stay in their own crib without any bumpers, pillows, or toys protects against SIDS by creating a safe environment free from the risk of suffocation or entrapment.
    • Don’t feel obligated to have your baby sleep in a separate room or nursery. Keeping your baby’s crib in your room for the first 6 to 12 months of life is a great way to bond with your baby and easily hear their cries at night.
    • Do follow the ABCs of baby sleeping habits. Make sure your infant is sleeping Alone on their Back in a Crib that is free of bumpers, blankets, pillows, and soft toys, and that is in a smoke-free environment.