Unique Nutrition Needs


Whether your baby is born premature or has a lower weight at birth, the baby’s own mother’s milk is specially designed to adapt to the nutritional needs of the infant. Breast milk helps to fight infections and also contains hormones as well as growth factors that eventually make the baby stronger.

Premature infants

Breastfeeding is very important when your baby is born early. The yellow liquid produced by your breasts in the first few days is highly advantageous to your baby. Spending time with your little one can aid in improving your breast milk production. If your baby is not yet prepared to feed, expressing your breast milk will help in boosting your supply. Expressing milk simply means squeezing milk out of your breast by hand or with a breast pump. You can store it and feed your baby later. You should express your milk 8 to 10 times a day, including at least once every night, to build up your milk supply. Premature babies will be able to breastfeed directly as they develop and become stronger.

Infants with low birth weight

A baby should have as much skin-to-skin contact with the mother to make bonding and breastfeeding easier. Feeding from the breast might not be possible for all low-birth-weight infants, and so other oral feeding methods such as a cup, spoon or direct expression into mouth has to be considered. The mother has to express her milk with her hand or a pump at least 8 times in 24 hours.

Feeding your low-birth-weight babies2

>36 Weeks of Age

32-36 Weeks of Age

<32 Weeks of Age


Breast milk

Breast milk, expressed or suckled from the breast

Expressed breast milk



Cup, spoon, feeding at the breast

Intra-gastric tube


  • Start within 1 hour of birth
  • Breastfeed at least every 3 hours
  • Start within 1 hour of birth or as soon as the baby is clinically stable
  • Feed every 2-3 hours
  • Start 12-24 hours after birth
  • Feed every 1-2 hours
  1. National Health Service (NHS). Breastfeeding a premature baby. Last reviewed: 2/10/2014. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/breastfeeding-premature-baby.aspx. As accessed on: 21/4/2016.
  2. Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. SESSION 6, Appropriate feeding in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148969/. As accessed on: 21/4/2016.
  3. National Health Service (NHS). Expressing and storing breast milk. Last reviewed: 2/10/2014. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/expressing-storing-breast-milk.aspx. As accessed on: 21/4/2016.