Newborn nutrition is a vital part of the well-being of an infant. The period of rapid
growth in infancy requires careful nutritional support to continue the growth and
development that began at conception. The first decision that parents need to make
about feeding their infant is whether to breast-feed, bottle feed, or a combination of
both. An early assessment of feeding should have began during the first months of
pregnancy. Nutritional information should be provided so that an informed decision can
be made. It is important that the parents know that there is a relationship between food
and health. They should be given basic information about their infant's nutritional needs
and how they relate to breast milk, formula, or solid foods. After the baby is born,
feeding practices should be examined, modified where necessary, and reinforced.
Proper nutrition is essential for optimal growth and development of the newborn infant.
NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE NEWBORN
a. Fluid. Newborns require more fluid relative to their size than adults require.
Additional fluids are required with fever, diarrhea, and vomiting.
(1) Dehydration. Until the ability to retain body water through kidney
function improves in the early months of life, the infant is at risk for dehydration. Signs
of dehydration are:
(a) Depressed fontanels.
Rapid, weak pulse.
Elevated low-grade temperature.
Dark, concentrated urine.
(e) Dry, hard stools.
Dry skin with little turgor.
(g) Elevated specific gravity (1.020).
(2) Water. Prepared infant formulas provide sufficient water under normal
environmental conditions. Water intoxication may result from excessive feeding of
water to infants. It may occur when water is fed as a replacement for milk. Signs of
water intoxication are: