Besides meeting an infant's nutrition needs, feeding is a
time for a parent to nurture and bond with the baby. Whether
or bottle-feeding, there are several issues for parents to think about.
What is the information for this topic?
Feeding can be a special time for parent and baby. Both
breastfeeding and bottle-feeding allow for bonding and soothing. This
is a great time to communicate with a baby. While feeding the
baby, parents can make eye-to-eye contact and massage the baby's
hands and feet. They can stroke the baby's hair and face and talk to
the baby in a soft, sweet voice. The skin-to-skin contact
can be very soothing to a baby.
Parents need to decide whether to bottle-feed or breastfeed,
or both. Mothers should be made aware of the benefits of
The type of feeding is a personal choice. Whatever decision is made, others
should be supportive.
Positioning an infant during breastfeeding is a learned
technique. The main positions in which to hold a baby while nursing are:
Cradle hold. Sitting in an armchair, the mother holds
the infant in the bend of her arm. The arm is supported by a pillow beneath it.
The baby is held on the lap, with the baby's face, tummy, and knees
directly facing the mother's body. The baby's nose should be at the level of the
mother's nipple. The baby's lower arm is tucked under the mother's arm.
Clutch or football hold. The mother holds the baby
under her arm on the side the baby will nurse on, with baby's feet behind her.
She supports the baby's head and shoulders with her arm and hand. She may
want to rest her arm on a pillow. The mother then aligns the baby's nose with
her nipple, and guides her nipple into the baby's mouth. This position is often
recommended after a cesarean section
because it keeps the baby's weight off the incision.
Side lying. In this position, the mother is lying on
her side in bed. The baby is supported in the bend of the mother's arm. It
may be helpful for the mother to have a few pillows behind her back.
The mother should try to keep her back and neck in a straight line and
bring the baby to her nipple.
Getting the correct, comfortable position takes practice and
patience. When breastfeeding, it's important for the baby's tummy to face
the mother's body and for the baby is able to latch on to the nipple and the
areola. The areola is the pigmented area around the nipple. The baby's
mouth squeezes the glands inside the areola to make milk come out.
The mother should hold her breast in her hand and touch the baby's
lower lip or cheek with her nipple. This stimulates the rooting reflex, which
means that the baby instinctively turns toward the breast and searches for
the nipple. When the baby's mouth opens, the mother should then gently
pull the baby toward her breast and guide the nipple and areola into the
A baby also needs to sense that the mother is calm,
relaxed, and comfortable with breast-feeding. Breast-feeding and bonding
time can be quite pleasurable for mother and baby.
Bottle-feeding is similar in many ways to breastfeeding.
Positioning is important, so the baby can relax enough to drink from the
bottle. The parent should hold the baby in his or her arm against the
chest. He or she should look at the baby and talk softly to him or her.
This is an essential time in the baby's development. The baby needs to
feel security and closeness from the parent. The parent should support
the baby's head in the cradle of his or her arm. The nipple of the bottle
is gently put straight into the baby's mouth. The bottle should be tipped
up so that no air gets through the nipple, just formula. Propping the
bottle for feeding is not a good idea, though. It can lead to dental problems
in the future.
Buying equipment for bottle-feeding involves a number of
decisions. Nipples and bottles come in a wide choice of shapes and
sizes. There are traditional, flat-tipped, and orthodontic nipples. Some
babies seem to prefer some nipple shapes to others, so parents may
need to try different ones. Formula should drip out of the nipple steadily.
If it comes out in a stream, the holes are too big, and the nipple should
be discarded. Check nipples periodically for signs of wear, such as
discoloration or thinning. Worn nipples should be replaced, because
they could break and become a choking hazard.
Bottles also come in different sizes and shapes. They
usually hold either 4 ounces or 8 ounces. For most newborns, a 4-ounce
bottle may be more useful than an 8-ounce bottle. Babies this age
may not drink more than 4 ounces at one sitting. A fresh bottle of
formula or breast milk should be used for each feeding.
For storing, heating, or feeding, the safest bottles are those
made of glass. Plastic bottles made of polypropylene are also considered
safe. Plastic bottles made from polycarbonates or polyvinyl chlorides are
unsafe. That's because they contain "plasticizers" that can be released
during sterilization and contaminate the contents of the bottle.
The infant should be burped halfway through the feeding,
and at the end of the feeding. This helps to rid the stomach of air bubbles.
The mother can hold the baby on her shoulder, across her knees, or sitting
up on her lap. The baby's back is gently rubbed or patted. Sometimes a
small amount of milk will come up with the burp, which is normal. But if
the baby vomits hard, parents should call the doctor.
Most infants are fed every 3 to 4 hours. A breastfed baby
may need to be fed more often during the first few weeks to help increase
the mother's milk supply. The newborn who is fed when hungry,
which is called feeding on demand, will soon adjust to a flexible
schedule. It is important to fulfill the baby's needs promptly to assure
him or her that the world is a good place in which to live.
Feeding an infant is a learning experience for both a baby
and a parent. At first, there are challenges, and every infant is different.
There are no absolute rules for feeding every infant. With
support and knowledge, feeding can be a very pleasurable
experience for both parent and baby.