Guide to Feeding Your Newborn

Guide to Feeding Your Newborn

on Jul 01, 2024

A holistic guide to feeding: breast, bottle and combination

Learn as much as you can about feeding before your baby arrives. Familiarizing yourself with tips, techniques and positions will enhance your bond with your little one while ensuring that your baby receives essential nutrients for a good start.

The benefits of breastfeeding

Embrace the power of Mother Nature: breast milk - the ideal nourishment, created by your body for your precious baby. Not only does it keep newborns healthy and strong, but it's also great for infants’ emotional well-being.

Breastfeeding offers many benefits for both you and your baby. Health Canada and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age and on, or for as long as you can.1-3 Here are some key benefits of breast milk to consider:
  • Optimal nutrition: Breast milk contains the ideal combination of nutrients*, antibodies, and enzymes tailored to meet your baby's unique needs, supporting their growth and development.2
  • Immune protection: Breast milk contains naturally protective compounds, like antibodies, probiotics, and human milk oligosaccharides, that all help protect your baby against infections and illnesses while supporting their developing immune system.
  • Bonding and emotional connection: The close physical contact during breastfeeding promotes a strong emotional bond between you and your baby, creating a sense of security and comfort.

Ready? Set? Breastfeed!

When do you start to breastfeed? Right away! Experts advise that mothers start breastfeeding within an hour of giving birth. This promotes immediate bonding and provides essential health benefits for both mother and baby.

Feeding frequency: what’s the schedule?

Keep it simple: Feed your baby whenever they seem hungry.

Plan to feed every 2-3 hours, even during those nighttime awakenings—around 8-12 times within a 24-hour period. Having your newborn nearby while you sleep ensures that you can feed whenever your little one wakes or gets hungry.

And don't forget, the more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will make.4

Feeding Positions



Finding the right position for breastfeeding is key. Experiment with the options listed below and pick the one (or more) that feels comfy for both you and your little one.

  • Cradle hold: This classic position involves holding your baby's head in the crook of your arm, with their body turned towards you. It is a comfortable and secure position for most mothers and babies.
  • Cross-cradle hold: Similar to the cradle hold, but with your opposite hand supporting your breast. This position offers more control and is often recommended for newborns and premature babies.
  • Football hold: Ideal for mothers after a cesarean birth or for those with large breasts, the football hold involves tucking your baby under your arm, with their legs extended towards your back.
  • Side-lying position: This position allows for comfortable breastfeeding in bed, particularly useful for night feedings. Lie on your side with your baby facing you, aligning your bodies for easy access.
  • Laid-back position: Embrace the laid-back breastfeeding position, also known as biological nurturing, allowing babies to instinctively latch and feed while promoting relaxation for mothers.

Remember, the key to finding the right feeding position is comfort for both you and your baby. Don't hesitate to experiment and seek guidance from healthcare professionals or lactation consultants for personalized support.

Once you’ve achieved a strong latch, repeat the process

Getting your baby to latch on properly can take some practice. But don’t worry! Once you’ve secured that strong latch, baby will consistently want to return for more. Remember, repetition is key.

  • Create a calm environment. Be in a place where you can be relaxed and calm.
  • Try different breastfeeding holds to make sure you are comfortable.
  • Let your baby lead. If baby is not hungry, they might stay curled against your chest, and that’s okay. You can try again later. If baby is bobbing their head or rooting, or you sense baby might be hungry, try tickling the baby’s lips to encourage baby to latch.

Signs of success

As a new parent, it's crucial to know when breastfeeding is going smoothly - it's not just about fulfilling your little one's hunger. Breastfeeding is a time for you and your baby to bond and for them to receive essential nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Here are a few signs to watch for.

  • The latch feels comfortable to you and does not hurt or pinch.
  • You hear or see your baby swallow.
  • Your baby is producing wet and dirty diapers.

Formula feeding: nourishment with care

While breastfeeding is the ideal food for baby during the first six months of life, some families cannot or may choose not to exclusively breastfeed. Health Canada recommends cow milk-based commercial infant formula for infants who are not exclusively fed their mother’s breast milk.1 Infant formulas are designed to provide the recommended amounts of essential nutrients – like protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals for baby's healthy growth and development.

  • Choosing the right formula: All infant formulas in Canada meet strict nutritional standards and support baby’s growth and development, but not all formulas are the same. Talk with your doctor to find a formula that meets your baby's nutritional needs.
  • Proper sterilization and preparation: Sterilize bottles, nipples, and other feeding equipment before and after each use. Also, follow the instructions on the product label to ensure you accurately prepare the formula.
  • Establish a feeding routine: Create a feeding routine that fits your baby's needs. Keep an eye out for their hunger and fullness cues—they might change from day to day!

Combining breastfeeding and formula feeding

Lots of parents choose to mix breastfeeding and formula feeding, which provides flexibility to meet both baby's and family's needs. This is called supplementing, mixed or combination feeding. It may come in handy if moms encounter challenges with feeding or are anticipating schedule changes, like returning to work.

Baby's weight fluctuations explained

Whether you are breastfeeding, formula feeding or both, recognize that it is common for newborns to temporarily lose weight in the early days of life. This can be frightening for new moms who are afraid that their baby may not be receiving the necessary nutrients. This weight loss usually stops after the first few days.4 Baby’s growth will be closely tracked by your doctor at your well-baby visits. Weight fluctuations may be part of their natural growth and development. Reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns about how your baby is growing.

Parents, it's important to remember that regardless of the feeding method you choose, the well-being of both you and your baby is what truly matters. Your baby's health and happiness, along with your own, are top priorities. Every baby is unique, so trust your instincts and seek guidance from your doctor as you navigate this feeding journey together. Your intuition combined with your doctor’s guidance will ensure a smooth and fulfilling experience for both you and your little one.

*All breastfed and partially breastfed babies in Canada should receive a 400 IU (10 μg) vitamin D supplement each day.


1 Government of Canada. (2023.) Nutrition for healthy term infants: recommendations from birth to six months. Accessed 2024 April. URL:

2 Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. (2020.) Breastfeeding. Accessed 2024 March.

3 World Health Organization. (2023.) Infant and Young Child Feeding. Accessed 2024 February. URL:

4 Government of Canada. (2023). Ten valuable tips for successful breastfeeding. Accessed 2024 April. URL: