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Feeding Your Baby

Baby Care Basics

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Baby Asleep at the Breast Feeding - Breastfeeding Gallery

Feeding the baby at breast.

Photo © iStockPhoto

Feeding your baby is more than just a matter of nutrition, it's also about nurturing and comfort. Using feeding time to make eye contact and hold your baby are great ways to increase that bonding time. It's also a great time to talk to your little one. This goes for breast or bottle feeding.

Breast Feeding Baby

  1. Choose a position. You can choose any position you wish to nurse in, whether that be a seated or laying down position. It should be one that gives you the best feeding position for your baby and their needs. This may vary with the baby's age, your comfort level and even the time of day. Many people use the cradle hold, with mom seated upright, holding baby like a cradle. This allows you to hold the baby with one hand and use the other to support or move your breast.

  2. Need a lift? No matter what position you decide on, get some support! A nursing pillow or using couch or bed pillows to help you hold baby up will save strain on your neck and back. Ask for help from others if you're just learning.

  3. Baby Placement A good latch is one of the most important parts of breastfeeding comfortably. This directly goes back to a good position of the baby. Your baby should be belly to belly with you and chin to breast. If baby is twisted or has their head turned it can make it not only more difficult for them to get milk, but it can make your nipples sore.

  4. Latch! Use your one hand to cup the breast and offer it to baby. Baby should open his or her mouth wide enough to take a good portion of the areola tissue (darker portion of the breast) into the mouth. As baby does this pull them closer to the breast and watch them nurse.

  5. What to look for! While baby is nursing you want to look for a few things to ensure all is well. The baby should have their lips flared around the breast. If you pull the lower lip down a bit (while they are nursing) the tongue should be curled around the breast. You can also usually hear baby swallowing and watch their ears wiggling when actively nursing.

  6. All done! When baby needs a break, it's time to change sides or is finished, simple slip a finger in the corner of their mouth to gently break the suction. If you don't do this you will cause yourself a lot of pain. You can then offer the other side following the same steps.

Bottle Feeding Baby

  1. Get ready! Have the bottle of breast milk or formula at the temperature your baby prefers. This can even be room temperature. It is important that you do not microwave bottles, as this will cause hot spots that can burn your baby, even though you may have tested the liquid.

  2. Get a grip. Hold the baby on your lap with their head in the crook of your arm. Be sure to switch sides, as you would with breastfeeding to provide them with adequate stimulation of both sides of their brain.

  3. Go for it! As the baby turns to root and opens their mouth, insert the bottle nipple into the mouth. The nipple should be filled with fluid. A half filled nipple will cause baby to swallow too much air which can cause gas later. To end a feeding or remove the bottle, simply pull the bottle from baby's mouth.

Some extra tips for bottle feeding include not using half-used bottles. If baby doesn't finish a bottle you can't save it. So store breast milk in small amounts, like 2 ounces. Or fix formula in similar amounts. This prevents waste. You should also never prop a bottle. This can cause the baby to choke and deprives them of the physical contact they crave. Breast milk will keep in your refrigerator for three days, and 3-6 months in the freezer. Formula lasts about 2 days in the refrigerator. It's also important not to water down formula to stretch it. This can cause your baby to become inadequately nourished and ill.
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