Feeding foundations: Week 1–Week 8

Once you have been discharge home from hospital with your new baby, you no doubt assume that all is well with baby and things should proceed according to ‘the book’. In about 50% of infants this is the case. If you are experiencing problems we hope that this site will give you a few insights into the troubles you are experiencing. This is not a medical site. It is the result of decades of nursing experience in the fields of paediatrics, midwifery, community child health, lactation counseling, and hands on experience with parenting and professional clinical problem solving in partnership with parents. The fathers who were plumbers, mechanics and travel agents were helpful in that they had a different perspective and influenced the direction of information provided.

Normal is something we all want to be. Many people think that ‘there is no such thing as normal’ – however, there is a normal range. It is just that, what is normal for you is not the same as it is for me, or the next person. When we go too far to the right or the left, it can become abnormal. Pain is normal – in one sense – to let us know that something is wrong, but it usually resolves within a short time. Pain after a footy match is normal, or if we ‘sleep crooked’, but pain which lasts for days and days and is not affected by over the counter paracetamol, massage or a heat pack, is becoming abnormal.

Some of us sleep more than others, eat different amounts, are tall or short, have small heads or large heads – but they are all in the normal range. So, for your baby it is not always important that he is doing the same as another infant, at the same time or in the same way, but his rate of progress and his general demeanor are important. If he looks alright, sounds alright, and behaves alright – he probably is alright. When mothers are anxious about baby, it is a really good idea to ask dad what he thinks of baby in general terms.

This site assumes we are discussing a normal full term infant. This excludes the premature, sick and congenital abnormality infants. Much of the research which gives us some pointers about normal, is actually derived from research on the abnormal: cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, premature infants – because therapy is attempting to normalize their functionality.

We hope you find the information here helpful and are able to adapt it to the individual situation of your own child. If you think you need help or support with feeding your infant, contact the community child health nurse and if necessary get referral to other allied health professionals or community mother to mother support groups.