Breastfeeding Your Baby
During your baby’s stay in the neonatal unit you will have become familiar with your baby’s feeding pattern.
On discharge, breast fed babies will be feeding 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Some of these feeds can be in a cluster, often in the evening time. Feed times can usually last 10-20 minutes each side.
Babies will feed 3-5 hourly, small babies should not be allowed to sleep longer than 5 hours to ensure adequate intake of milk over the 24 hour period.
Often a period of skin-to-skin contact with baby will help them to become interested in a feed.
A good latch at the breast and a proper position will ensure that baby gets the most from each feed.
Often mums will still be expressing their milk and offering top-up feeds of expressed breast milk or formula to ensure an adequate intake of milk or formula and good weight gain.
Observe baby’s nappy for sufficient wet and dry nappies. 5-6 wet nappies and 1-2 dirty nappies are normal within 24 hours.
If your baby is not feeding as well as before- help from your Public Health Nurse, GP, or Hospital should be sought sooner than later. These health professionals will monitor your baby’s general health and weight gain.
For more information please visit our section. You can also visit www.breastfeeding.ie for support.
Bottle Feeding Your Baby
We recommend that you keep your baby on the same formula, as recommended on discharge by the Neonatal Nurse, Dietician or Neonatal Doctor.
Your baby may be fed on demand- but generally your baby will feed in a routine schedule every 4 hours when (s)he is ready for discharge. In the first few weeks after coming home, they should not be left more than 5 hours without a feed
For details on how to prepare infant formula feeds please refer to the HSE Recommendations here.
Maintaining Your Baby’s Temperature
Your baby will be used to a warm neonatal unit but your home won’t need to be kept as warm. The table below shows the amount of bedding to be used at different room temperatures. It assumes your baby is dressed in a nappy, vest and babygro. This table is a guide only.
Amount of Bedding
15 DegC (60 F)
Sheet plus 4 layers of blankets
18 DegC (65 F)
Sheet plus 3 layers of blankets
21 DegC (70 F)
Sheet plus 2 layers of blankets
24 DegC (75 F)
Sheet plus 1 layer of blankets
A folded or doubled blanket counts as 2 layers. Duvets, baby nests and cot bumpers are not recommended for babies under a year old and never use a hot water bottle or sheepskin to warm your baby.
In winter, your baby will need to be dressed in a vest, babygro and cardigan. Babies lose weight from their heads, so a hat is important when they are outside to reduce heat loss in winter, and to protect your baby’s delicate skin from the sun in summer. However to prevent an unnecessary rise in your baby’s temperature it is not advised to put a hat on or cover your baby’s head when indoors.
You should a baby car seat for the journey home and every subsequent journey thereafter, even for a short journey.
NEVER leave baby alone in the car seat.
Fit the seat according to manufacturer’s instructions and always use the harness.
If your car has an airbag in the front passenger seat you must only use the car’s back seat.
Bathing Your Baby
Bathing every 2 – 3 days should be sufficient, with daily “topping and tailing” paying special attention to skin creases. You should bath your baby in room that is warm and babies should never be left alone while in the bath. Your public health nurse will guide and support you with this based on your home and living environment.
We strongly recommend that your baby receives their vaccinations according to the HSE schedule.