Your Newborn Baby's Nutrition and Safety

Newborn Baby
Newborn Baby. Photo (c) Brent Deuel

At first, your baby will get all of his nutrition from breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula. If you plan on breastfeeding, ask the hospital personnel if they will allow you to nurse your baby right after he is delivered and before he is taken to the nursery. There will be no need to supplement with water, juice or cereal.

Your newborn baby will probably be eating every hour and a half to three hours and if feeding on-demand and following your baby's cues remember that not all cries are 'hunger-cries' and you may have to set some limits (for example, not allowing him to feed every half hour).Most breastfeeding babies will eat for 10-15 minutes (although you shouldn't time your feedings) on each breast every 1 1/2 to 3 hours (about 8-12 times a day) and bottle-feeding babies will take 1-3 ounces every 2-4 hours.

You want to avoid giving a breastfed baby a bottle before he is 4 to 6 weeks old. You also should avoid putting the bottle in bed or propping the bottle while feeding, putting cereal in the bottle, feeding your baby honey, using a low-iron formula, introducing solids before 4 to 6 months, or heating bottles in the microwave.

Newborn Safety

Accidents are the leading cause of death for children. Most of these deaths could easily be prevented and it is therefore very important to keep your child's safety in mind at all times. Here are some tips to keep your new baby safe as you prepare for his arrival:

  • According to the latest car seat guidelines, you should use a rear-facing infant or convertible car seat, and place it in the back seat until your baby is two years old or outgrows the rear-facing weight or height limits, and never place your baby in the front seat of a car with a passenger side airbag.
  • Make sure his crib is safe: have no more than 2 3/8 inches between the bars; the mattress should be firm and fit snuggly within the crib; place it away from windows and drafts; avoid placing fluffy blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows in the crib as they can cause smothering
  • Make sure that used or hand-me-down equipment, such as car seats, strollers, and cribs, etc, haven't been recalled for safety reasons. Call the manufacturer or the Consumer Product Safety Commission for an up to date list of recalled products.
  • Set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees F to prevent scalding burns.
  • To prevent choking, never leave small objects or plastic bags in your baby's reach.
  • Back to Sleep: put your baby to sleep on his back (alternate positions) to reduce his risk of SIDS and never put him down alone on a waterbed, bean bag, or soft blanket that can cover his face and cause choking.​Prevent falls by not leaving your baby alone on a bed or changing table.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and use flame retardant sleepwear.
  • Until your baby is older and his immune system is stronger, it is probably a good idea to keep him from large groups of people or other sick children to minimize his exposure to infections.
  • Know signs of illness: fever (call your Pediatrician right away if your baby has a temp at or above 100.4 before he is 2-3 months old), decreased appetite, vomiting, irritability, and lethargy.

Taking Your Newborn to the Doctor

The first visit to the doctor is usually when your baby is 3 to 5 days old.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies who go home from the hospital early, before they are 48 hours old, should be examined by a health professional within 48 hours of going home.

You may also need to see your doctor if your new baby has jaundice or is not feeding well.

11 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Your Guide to Breastfeeding.

  2. Stanford Children's Health. Planning to Be Away from Your Baby: Introducing a Bottle.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Botulism.

  4. Cunningham RM, Walton MA, Carter PM. The Major Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United StatesN Engl J Med. 2018;379(25):2468-2475. doi:10.1056/NEJMsr1804754

  5. Durbin DR, Hoffman BD. Child Passenger SafetyPediatrics. 2018;142(5) doi:10.1542/peds.2018-2460

  6. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Choosing a Crib.

  7. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC Safety Alert: Avoiding Tap Water Scalds.

  8. Boston Children's Hospital. Airway Obstruction.

  9. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained.

  10. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Make Baby's Room Safe: Parent Checklist.

  11.  Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Babies' Warning Signs.

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.