An Overview of Feeding Your Baby

feeding newborn baby
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If you're welcoming a new baby, you are going to have some decisions to make about feeding them. While it might feel overwhelming or even intimidating at first, there are many options when it comes to feeding your baby.

It's exciting to know you can nourish your baby, no matter what feeding choice works best for your family.

There are many options for feeding your baby—from breastfeeding to mixed feedings to using donor milk to formula feeding.

You can't know exactly what your infant feeding experience will be like or what resources you will need until you're immersed in the experience (e.g., after your baby has arrived).

However, you can become aware of the options ahead of time so that you know where to find resources when you need them.

Here is an overview of the choices you can make for feeding your baby. Learning about your options before your baby comes will help you ensure that you have the support and resources you need to continue to make choices that are best for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a wonderful choice for many families, if possible. You will need to educate yourself on the benefits of breastfeeding, how to get started breastfeeding, and how to handle any special circumstances you might encounter.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding has many health benefits and a powerful bonding tool between mother and baby, but it also requires time and support. It's not necessarily a simple decision for someone to decide whether to breastfeed or not.

There are a wealth of resources that can help you make the best decision for you and your baby.

Formula Feeding

Choosing to formula feed also requires time, resources, and support. Here are some resources to help you get started:

Mixed Feeding

Some people may not be aware that mixed feeding (for example, a combination of breastfeeding/pumped milk/donor milk and formula) is another option.

Mixed feeding is a choice that works for many families, and works differently for every family (which is why it can be a convenient option).

Mixed feeding uses a variety of feeding options combined in a way that meets your family's unique needs.

For example, you might breastfeed your baby and supplement with formula, use a mixture of donor breast milk and formula, or use pumped milk and formula.

Breastfeeding is very adaptable and your body will adjust to the schedule that you choose. You could breastfeed your baby in the morning, but use formula later in the day—mixed feedings means mixing feeding types in a way that works best for you and your baby.

Special Circumstances

There are many different special circumstances that you might encounter when feeding your baby, from allergies to health needs your little one might have.

Solids

Once your baby is ready to incorporate solids and other liquids into his or her diet, infant feeding becomes a whole other world. But it's an exciting one!

You can explore all the ways to introduce new foods and drinks into your baby's diet, such as:

Making the Best Decision for You and Baby

Feeding your baby might be stressful at times as you navigate finding the tools and resources that are right for you and your family. Having a support system set up ahead of time can really help. 

It also might mean learning to field questions or judgments from others outside of your family situation who may have opinions on what you should do.

It's important to keep in mind that there is no "best" choice for feeding a baby—only the best choice for your baby.

Feeding choices often include factoring in family support, family budget, childcare options, and schedule.

For example, if you choose to breastfeed and need to go back to work right away, will you be able to pump? Will formula feeding work into your family budget and childcare situation? Do you have the support necessary to make the feeding choice you think is best?

Don't be afraid to look at the big picture when making your ultimate decision and to remember that a stressed out parent isn't going to be able to provide the best care or enjoy the experience as much.

A Word From Verywell

Your feeding journey with your baby is an exciting time. Who doesn't love food, right? Look at this as an opportunity to figure out a feeding solution that works best for you, your baby, and your family.

As hard as it is to turn down the volume on some of the pressure you may be feeling to feed a certain way from others/social media/etc. Ultimately, the decision has to be one that feels right for you.

When you do make a decision, it's nice to remember that nothing is ever set in stone. You can always change your mind or revisit the situation if something changes.

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