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PLAYING: Baby digestion development | First days

Baby digestion development | First days

By Dr. Dina Kulik, pediatrician

3 mins to read May 24, 2018

Congratulations! If you are getting ready to bring home your precious new baby, you are likely feeling excited, anxious, eager or even a bit overwhelmed at what the first couple of days may look like. Don’t despair! You’ll get used to your new life quickly!

Feeding and weight gain

Because babies’ stomachs are tiny, they eat frequently, usually 1-2 oz of breast milk or formula every 1-3 hours. So, you will spend the first few days and weeks focused heavily on feeding.We know that breast milk is the healthiest source of food for babies and gives baby many benefits, including bacterial cultures called probiotics that can support gut health[1],[2],[3] Many parents will choose to offer formula as well as, or instead of, breast milk. Certain formulas include probiotics that are naturally found in the gut of healthy, breastfed babies. Talk to your doctor about how you’ll feed your baby, and how you might optimize baby’s gut health.

You should also know that newborns typically lose 5-7% of their body weight after birth, until they are feeding well and especially as mom’s breast milk supply comes up to meet demand. This is why it is important to feed baby often until he or she is back at birth weight. Your doctor will monitor this closely. Usually babies will sleep between feeds, even up to 20 hours a day! Ideally, baby will feed seven or more times a day and continuously gain weight. You’ll need your rest when baby rests!

Wet and Dirty Diapers

Newborn babies pee and poo a lot! In the first few days, we expect at least as many wet diapers per day as days old (two wet diapers on day two of life, three on day three, etc.), but some babies will have many more. There is a wide range of normal for bowel movements. Breastfed babies tend to poop more than formula-fed ones, though some breastfed babies poo 10 times a day, and others every 10 days! 

The very first bowel movements, called meconium, have a black, almost tar-like consistency. Then baby’s poo will transition to greenish, light brown, or seedy, mustard-yellow poops. Let your doctor know if your baby's stool contains streaks or flecks of red, which can indicate a problem. Normal poop consistency ranges from very soft to watery, with breastfed babies having looser poop than formula-fed ones.

Sleep schedule

Baby will likely sleep, feed, and repeat all day. Baby’s small belly will keep them from sleeping more than a couple hours before waking to feed again. Many newborns are able to sleep pretty much anywhere – in the car seat, baby carrier, bassinet, or in your arms. The safest place to sleep is in a bassinet, cradle, or crib. Always put baby on their back and remove all loose blankets, as well as bumpers, pillows, blankets, and toys to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).[4] Learn more about your baby's sleep development now.

Remember, bringing home a baby is a huge life change, and you shouldn't expect to adapt the moment you return home. It will take a few days or weeks to get used to everything. Try to enlist your family and friends to help. Take a few moments for yourself. Give yourself a break. You will be great at this parenting thing!

This article has been sponsored by Nestlé Baby & me, but all comments and opinions are my own.

Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEMDr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dr. Dina Kulik is a pediatrician and emergency doctor based in Toronto. She is the founder of Kidcrew Pediatrics, and works at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). Dr. Kulik is also Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. An expert on children’s health, Dr. Kulik often speaks out on topics such as breastfeeding challenges and solid food introduction.


  • [1] Gueimonde M, et al. Neonatology 2007;92:64–66.

  • [2] Cabrera-Rubio R, et al. AJCN 2012;96:544–551.

  • [3] Khodayar-Pardo P, et al. Journal of Perinatology 2014;27 Mar: 1–7.


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