How to Feed Premature Babies Properly?

How to Feed Premature Babies Properly

Why Premature Babies Should Be Fed Differently?

A baby is born prematurely if his gestational age is below 37 weeks. Such babies require extra care and more attention than normal babies. Why should parents pay attention to feeding premature babies? What makes feeding more difficult for babies born weeks before the estimated due date of their birth? These questions trouble many parents. So, let’s find out some factual answers!

Why Should Mothers Be More Careful While Feeding a Premature Baby?

Premature babies are born before developing completely in the womb. They may weigh less than 2500 grams. Health experts cannot explain clearly why some women have a premature birth.

Experts believe factors such as high blood pressure, excess weight, smoking, excess use of fertility drugs, short pregnancy intervals, twin births, etc. may cause premature birth! A 2010 study reveals that about 8.1% of births till that time were premature births. Many parents lost their babies because they weren’t developed completely and born too early!

It can happen to anyone. It’s important to provide the baby with the best medical aid. Mothers should learn the right way to feed a premature baby to maintain a regular supply of lifesaving nutrients. Regular feeding improves the survival probability and aids in the rapid growth of organs.

What are the Right Techniques to Feed Premature Babies?

Mothers should be extra careful while feeding a premature baby. Correct feeding techniques can help the baby in consuming enough food to grow healthier. Continue reading to learn the right way of feeding a premature baby.  

1. How often and how much you should feed?

Doctors suggest feeding a premature baby right after 6-12 hours of birth. Feed the infant every 3 hours if he weighs bellow 2kgs. If his weight is below 1.5kgs, he must be fed within ever 2 hours. Feed your child patiently until he learns how to consume the milk. Premature babies need sufficient milk and they often take time to consume it.

2. Feed only breast milk

Premature babies should consume only their mother’s milk. They can digest it easily and gain all the essential nutrients for better growth. Formula milk can cause health issues like diarrhea and indigestion. So, you have to avoid feeding formula milk for the first six months.

3. How to feed premature babies?

Hold the baby carefully and feed him patiently. Do not be in a hurry and don’t move frequently. It can scare your newborn child! Feed him in small intervals if the milk flow rate is too high. Thus, the baby won’t choke.

Suppose the baby doesn’t consume milk, squeeze it in front of him to allure him. If you are feeding through a milk bottle, pick a pacifier with the right flow rate. Make sure the baby can suck milk easily without putting too much effort into it.

4. What is the right feeding position?

Keep the baby close to your breast so that he can easily get the supply of milk. Once you fed enough milk, hold the baby in an upright position. Pat on your baby’s back so that he can exhaust gases swallowed. Thus, the baby won’t spit out milk and absorb more food for better health.

How to Choose the Right Milk to Nourish a Premature Baby?

You can’t feed any available milk to a premature child. Choose one of the following ways to nourish your child and make him healthier.

1. Breast milk

Breast milk is the best food for a premature child. It will ensure quick growth and better health of the child. Consider feeding breast milk if you want to prevent malnutrition.

2. Milk fortifier with breast milk

If your baby’s weight is quite low, the hospital won’t discharge the baby until he gains a certain weight. Doctors suggest feeding breast milk with a milk fortifier to make the baby healthier. It contains more energy booster nutrients, which aid in the better growth of organs.

3. Formula milk

The Baby’s gestational age must be 40 weeks if you want to feed him formula milk. Doctors suggest it if the baby does not show satisfying growth after consuming breast milk. It also works as a supplement for newborn children.

4. Formula milk with energy boosters

If the premature baby is too weak and weighs below 2000 grams, he won’t have enough energy to consume his mother’s milk. Therefore, doctors often feed high-quality formula milk to prevent malnutrition. It is a kind of supplement that nourishes premature babies faster than breast milk.

Why Breastfeeding Is Best for Premature Babies?

Breast milk is extremely beneficial for newborns, especially after a premature birth! It contains nutrients such as protein, vitamin, calories, etc. These nutrients aid in the rapid growth of the baby. Breast milk also contains living cells to fight diseases and infection. Therefore, it is quite essential for all newborn children.

1. Know when the baby is hungry

Make sure the premature baby doesn’t cry a lot to preserve his energy. Look for the cues of hunger and feed him as often as possible. He won’t move or cry as loudly as a normal baby, so be extra careful with premature children.

2. Make sure the baby is getting the necessary supply of milk

Weigh your baby before feeding the milk and then weigh after feeding him. Thus, you will know that the baby is consuming and digesting the right amount of milk.

3. Feed your premature baby at least eight times a day

Mothers must feed premature babies every 3 hours. They need enough food to grow healthier. Squeeze a tiny amount of milk in front of the baby if he doesn’t consume it. This will attract the baby and he will get the necessary diet!

4. Make sure the baby rests a lot

Premature babies should only eat and sleep. It will the regular schedule for a few weeks until the baby gains weight and grows normal. Suppose the baby is crying, use a swaddle or remove his clothes to comfort him.

What Are the Nutritional Requirements of a Premature Baby?

A premature baby needs much higher calories than a normal baby. He will need 110-150 kcal/kg of his body weight. Such babies have underdeveloped organs such as the liver, lungs, etc. Therefore, they find it daunting to digest the food and they breathe much faster.

Premature babies are needed to be fed more often because they can’t absorb food as easily as a mature baby does. A premature baby’s nutritional requirements are as follows:

  • Protein: A premature baby needs 10.2% of total calories for quicker growth, which is higher than the 7% need in mature babies.
  • Amino acids: Normal babies need only 9 types of amino acids whereas a premature baby needs 11 of them for better health.
  • Inorganic salt: Premature babies need inorganic salts, such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus to prevent the lack of inorganic salts in their body.
  • Vitamins: The lack of Vitamin E can cause health problems in premature children. They need an ample supply of vitamins along with other nutrients to prevent diseases and stay healthy.

How to Assess Catch-Up Growth in Premature Babies?

Mothers get worried about the baby’s growth due to his premature birth. They want him to be healthy as a normal baby as soon as possible. How to assess your baby is getting healthier? Continue reading to learn about it:

1. Know the importance of catch-up growth

Compensatory growth or catch-up growth is a unique developmental phenomenon. Premature babies do not grow like normal child due to several reasons. Immature organ development and insufficient nutrients cause troubles in the baby’s life. Therefore, doctors focus on catch-up growth to provide medical aid at the right time. Thus, the chances of survival increase and the baby grow normally.   

2. The best time for catch-up growth

The first year of a premature baby’s life is the best time for catch-up growth. Parents should follow the right feeding method for the first six months. Take the baby to the doctor for a regular health checkup to prevent complications.

3. What nutrients do a premature baby needs for catch-up growth

A premature baby will need multivitamins along with 50-100mg of vitamin C every day. He will also need 2-4mg iron in his diet for the first two weeks. The baby will need a lot of calcium to develop stronger bones. Breast milk provides all the nutrients, but doctors may use milk fortifier to speed up the baby’s growth.

What Precautions Mothers Must Take While Feeding A Premature Baby?

Mothers must take the following precautions while feeding a premature baby:

  1. Feed only breast milk as long as possible. If the baby is kept in another room, the doctors can feed supplemental formula milk. Its thickness should be perfect so that the baby can digest it easily.
  2. Do not let your baby squeeze milk too fast because it can cause choking. Stay patient when the baby is consuming milk and make sure he gets the supply at the right flow rate.
  3. Feed the baby in a semi-recumbent position to ensure he consumes milk slowly. It will prevent excess intake of air while feeding milk.
  4. Do not lose patience if the baby consumes milk very slowly. It is normal for premature babies due to low energy levels!


Now you know everything about a premature baby’s diet. Use this information to feed your baby accurately. It will ensure the quick growth of your child. There won’t be any complications and your baby will grow normally like other children.

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