Nutrition for premature babies | Babies |

Nutrition for premature babies

How is my premature baby fed in the hospital?

How your baby gets his food at the hospital depends entirely on what stage of development it is and what its health status is. If the baby was born very early, it will probably get its first food from a vein in the vein (Bliss 2011a).

Older and more robust babies can get milk food. If your baby is not yet ready to breastfeed, it can get the milk formula through a tube that goes straight into his stomach via the nose or mouth.

The staff at the station may allow you to make the hose meals yourself and show you how to do it. This allows you as a parent to actively participate in the event and build a bond with your baby.

You can also prepare your baby for breastfeeding by holding it to your breast. This will give the baby close and skin contact. Incidentally, this is just as valuable to fathers as it is to mothers (Bliss 2010a, 2011a).

As your baby grows stronger and his ability to suck and swallow increases, it can learn to get milk from your breast, from a small cup or bottle (Bliss 2010a, 2011a).

What kind of food will my baby get in the hospital?

If your baby gets a drip in the vein, it gets a solution of sugar, salt, and water. It can also get vitamins, fats or amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins (Bliss 2010a, 2011a).

As soon as your baby is ready for milk food, breast milk is best. Your child can get the breast milk through a tube if it can not suck or get a vial.

You can and should start pumping milk right after birth - breast milk is also the best food for premature babies. The hospital can freeze the milk for your baby. If you start pumping milk soon after birth, it helps to build up your milk flow.

Some hospitals maintain breast milk banks with donated milk from other mothers. Your doctor will probably recommend adding tonic to your milk to help your baby get off to a good start. (Bliss 2010a, 2011a, 2011b).

Preemies can also get a special kind of milk food in the hospital. Your neonatal ward experts can explain the options that are appropriate for your baby.

Your baby may be given a special milk formula for the first few months at home. This variety is called post-discharge milk and it is richer in nutrients than regular milk formula. Your baby can get it until it's developed enough to switch to the normal strain (Bliss 2011b).

Does my premature baby need extra nutrients?

Your breastmilk is the best food for your baby. But preemies sometimes need extra nutrients, so more calories.


The doctor or nutritionist of your baby may order tonic for a while. These are added to breast milk and contain additional proteins, minerals and vitamins. The tonic should help your baby grow and give him strong bones. Your baby usually needs these tonics only for a short time (Bliss 2010a, 2011a, 2011b, King 2010).


Probiotics can protect premature babies from intestinal infections. Probiotics are additives that contain helpful bacteria or yeast. According to some studies, they reduce the risk of getting necrotizing enterocolitis, an infection that can affect the intestines of preemies (AlFaleh 2011).

Discuss with the doctors, nurses or nutritionists if your baby needs probiotics. Your baby may need a special strain, so you should not buy anything on your own.

Vitamins and minerals

Some babies need extra vitamins and minerals. If your child is breast-fed, it will need a vitamin D supplement until you stop breast-feeding. Your doctor may prescribe a multivitamin containing vitamin D.

If you breastfeed your baby, it should also get an iron supplement. Preterm babies often have low levels of iron and therefore need to take blood tests more often.

Your baby will need the iron supplement until her first birthday. Then your baby should be fed on three meals a day. Your pediatrician or your nutritional specialist / nutrition specialist will then suggest other supplements if necessary (Bliss 2011b).

What happens if my baby has reflux?

When babies have difficulty keeping their food, they call it gastroesophageal reflux. The reason for this reflux in babies is an immature digestive system.

At the top of your baby's stomach is a muscle ring. This opens when food comes down the esophagus. This muscle ring or valve then closes to keep the food in the stomach for digestion. In some babies, this occlusion is weak and this causes some of the undigested food to go out causing discomfort such as heartburn.

It is unclear whether premature babies are more susceptible than fully-fledged babies. But it is definitely disturbing, as your baby is vomited by the reflux, sometimes quite dramatically.

Reflux can make your baby feel unwell while feeding or refuse to eat. Sometimes reflux also causes a cough (Hovarth 2008).

You can try to keep your baby up instead of putting it directly in his crib after feeding. Smaller, more frequent meals are better than a few large ones. A peasant during feeding can also help (Bliss 2010b, Horvath 2008).

If you are worried, talk to your pediatrician. Sometimes a thickener in your baby's diet helps or the doctor prescribes a drug to relieve reflux (Bliss 2010b, Horvath 2008).

If it is a severe reflux, your baby may develop feeding or eating disorders, it will be light in weight, or it may also develop a chest infection. Fortunately, babies usually outgrow reflux in their first year, and the situation improves significantly as they begin to eat solid food (Bliss 2010b).

When should I start with solid food in my premature baby?

Breastmilk is the best food for mature newborns until at least the fifth month. For premature babies, the time to change is usually between five and seven months after birth (BDA 2010). Prepare the Babybreie as often as possible, because in the experience, babies accept new foods more often than if they only get ready-made pies.

If your baby was born prematurely, you should seek individual advice as to when the best time to change is. Ask your midwife and talk to your pediatrician. If your child does not gain as much weight as hoped, a nutritionist / nutrition specialist can advise you.

You may also need help with weaning if your baby has a disability or health problems such as a lung disease (BDA 2010, BAPM 2011).

If your baby is healthy and thrives, it can be weaned just like any other baby. (BAPM 2011). Give your baby as much homemade food as possible. It's worth offering new flavors and textures as soon as your baby is ready (Bliss 2011b).


AlFaleh K, Anabrees J, Bassler D, et al. 2011. Probiotics for prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3): CD005496.

Bliss. 2010a. Breastfeeding your premature baby.

Bliss. 2010b Gastro-oesphogeal reflux (fact sheet)

Bliss. 2011a. Bliss family handbook.

Bliss 2011b. Weaning your premature baby.

British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM). 2011. Joint consensus statement on weaning preterm babies.

British Dietetic Association (BDA). 2010. BDA Pediatric Group position statement: Weaning infants onto solid foods.

Horvath A, Dziechciarz P, Szajewska H. 2008.The effect of thickened-feed interventions on gastroesophageal reflux in infants: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Pediatrics, 122 (6): e1268 -e1277.

King C, Bell S. 2010. Bliss briefings: Discussion paper on the use of breastmilk fortifiers in the feeding of preterm infants.

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