It’s normal for newborn babies to eat every two to four hours, depending on how they are fed. Breastfed babies tend to eat closer to every two hours, while formula fed babies may go as long as four hours between feedings. If your newborn baby goes longer than four hours between feedings and doesn’t appear to be willing to eat, it is usually a sign that something is wrong.
Newborn babies’ tummies are only large enough to hold enough breast milk or formula to keep to keep them satisfied for a short time. When babies wake up, they should be fed. Suckling comes naturally to babies, and they should not need much encouragement to start feeding, whether they are breast or bottle fed.
If a baby hasn’t eaten in four hours and resists feeding, it’s usually because baby is either sick or isn’t getting any milk when she tries to feed. In either case, it’s a good idea to get your pediatrician on the phone and start asking about how long you should wait before bringing your baby in.
If baby is not interested in eating, check her temperature. If she is running a fever over 100 degrees, call your pediatrician and take her in. Many times a lack of appetite is caused by an infection in baby’s body. Like adults, babies often don’t feel like eating when they feel sick. Unlike adults, however, babies cannot go long without eating before developing more serious problems.
Generally missing one feeding is not cause for major alarm. If, however, your baby refuses more than one of her normal feedings, you will want to take her in to see the doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your baby’s health.
Sometimes breastfed babies will “refuse” to eat simply because they aren’t getting anything when they try to suckle. Most of the time, this problem can be fixed with a few changes in the way you approach breastfeeding. Your pediatrician should be able to suggest the changes you need to make. She may also recommend a lactation consultant or coach.
Don’t be discouraged if you experience problems breastfeeding your baby. You’re not alone by any means. Most breastfeeding problems are relatively easy to solve, and you will find that your baby is happy to latch on and eat when she starts getting the milk she is looking for.