Baby feeding himself
7 Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Self-Feed
Now that your baby has been introduced to solids and is experiencing different foods and flavors, you may be ready to help your little one begin to self-feed. But when is the right time to encourage this new skill? What are the signs of readiness that we should look for? And what are the best foods to begin with when teaching baby to self-feed? We are answering all of your questions and sharing our tips on making this milestone easier for you and your child.
When will my baby be able to self-feed?
Usually, by about nine to 12 months of age, you may notice your baby showing an interest in self-feeding. They have become more experienced with eating solids at this age and are feeling the different textures of foods between their fingers. Hopefully, they are also making attempts at bringing some of that food to their mouth to lick and taste. This usually looks like them grasping for their food with their whole hand in a raking-like motion and then trying to shove what they have in their hand all into their mouth. You may even notice your baby trying to grab the food with their thumb and forefinger, which is an important fine motor skill called the pincer grasp. These are all good signs and are great indications that your baby is ready to begin self-feeding.
What are the signs that my baby is ready to self-feed?
There are a few readiness signs to look for that will indicate it’s the right time to begin teaching your baby to self-feed:
- Grabbing the spoon while you are holding it during mealtime.
- Reaching for their food on their plate, bowl, or tray.
- Reaching for your food or plate.
- Practicing the pincer grasp — bringing food and other items to their mouth during mealtime or playtime.
- Pushing your hand away when you try to feed them.
It’s important to pay attention to these readiness signs and not just rely on your child’s age. If a baby is 9 or 10 months old but does not show these readiness signs, parents should wait until they do. But once your baby does show these self-feeding readiness signs, it’s important to provide many opportunities for them to practice this skill. Allow them to try and try again. That’s how they will learn and master this skill!
What are the best foods to start with self-feeding?
The best foods to give your baby to practice self-feeding are easy for them to grab, hold, pick up, and bring to their mouth. Here are some recommendations to try:
- Stonyfield YoBaby Pouches
- Soft cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or peas
- Small pieces of soft, ripe bananas, avocados, kiwi, or peaches
- Soft-cooked apples or pears
- Soft-cooked whole grain pasta
- Diced pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, or fish
- Cubes or strings of cheese
YoBaby® yogurt pouches are a great option for multiple reasons. First, they are easy for your little one to pick up and bring to their mouth. Second, they nourish little tummies with real fruit, live and active cultures, vitamin D, calcium, protein, and prebiotics! Third, the consistency is creamy and delicious — easy for baby to eat and swallow. And four, it combines whole milk yogurt and oats for a quick meal for baby!
All foods should be soft, easy to mash, and big enough for your baby to pick up but small enough to prevent them from choking.
What are the foods to avoid when my baby is beginning to self-feed?
Foods that should be avoided when beginning to teach your baby to self-feed are foods that pose a potential risk of choking.
- Raw carrots
- Whole grapes
- Hot dogs
- Portions of food that are too large
Your baby doesn’t have all of his teeth, so all foods should be soft. Once your baby’s 2-year molars come in, your child will be able to chew harder food properly. If you want to test to see which foods are safe and soft enough for your baby to eat, take a piece of their food and try to mash it between your fingers. If you cannot easily mash it, it’s probably too hard for your baby to chew.
How do I teach my baby to self-feed?
Now that you know your baby is ready to start self-feeding and you know which foods are best to start with, how do you begin? Here are some helpful tips.1. Give your baby lots of opportunities to practice.
The more opportunities you give them to practice, the quicker they will learn and master self-feeding. Give them opportunities to try self-feeding with their hands and with utensils.2. Begin with encouraging hand feeding.
Before introducing feeding utensils to your baby, encourage her first to use her hands to move the food toward her mouth. A good way to start is to place a yogurt pouch or a few pieces of food on your baby’s highchair tray. Encourage her to reach for it, feel it, and play with it with her pincer grasp. It may look as if she isn’t doing much and not eating, but that’s actually how she starts to learn.3. Also, introduce and encourage baby to use utensils.
It’s never too early to introduce utensils to your baby! It’s good for them to get used to utensils during mealtime. In the beginning, I recommend having two spoons–one for you to help feed baby a few bites and one for them to hold and practice using. He may even try to imitate your motions by dipping his spoon into the food and maybe attempting to bring it to his mouth.
Another thing you can try is pre-loading his spoon with food and handing it to him. This can help him practice balancing the food on the spoon as he brings it to his mouth. With this, I recommend using thicker foods like yogurt and oatmeal. They are good practice foods since they stick more easily to the spoon. Overall, be sure to allow plenty of practice opportunities with both utensils.4. Stay close to your baby during meals.
As your baby practices self-feeding, it’s important that you stay close and monitor her. We don’t want any food getting stuck in her nose or anywhere else, and you want to ensure that she is tolerating all of the new textures and flavors. By staying close, you will also monitor how much or little she is putting in her mouth and eating. These are all reasons why remaining by her side is necessary. She’s learning something new, and she needs your help and guidance!5. Be prepared and expect a big mess.
When babies are allowed to touch and explore new foods and feeding themselves, things get messy. And that’s okay! Don’t stress about it, and expect the mess. Have your baby wear a baby apron, put a towel on the floor if you’re worried about food falling, or undress your baby down to her diaper! Also, have baby wipes and power towels close by. You may even have to give your baby a bath after mealtime. Again, this is normal. A messy meal is still a success because that means your baby was trying to self-feed. Soon enough, she’ll get better at handling the different foods and make less of a mess. This is all a part of the process.6. Eat together as a family.
One of the best ways to teach your baby to self-feed is to have them watch the family eat. Babies are learning new things all the time, and they learn from modeled behaviors. By watching how their parents and siblings use their utensils and eat their food, babies want to mimic the same behaviors. They gain confidence watching you and believe that they can do it too! If you are feeding your baby at a different time than the rest of the family, they are missing out trying to mimic your movements with utensils and foods and observing other appropriate mealtime behaviors.7. Be patient.
It takes time to learn how to self-feed, so be patient with your little one. Don’t try to rush the process or mealtimes. Your baby should set the pace because they understand their hunger and fullness cues. This is why it’s good to allow plenty of time for their meals. With lots of practice and patience, your baby will be self-feeding in no time!
What if my baby starts gagging or choking?
When teaching your baby to self-feed, expect some gagging to occur. Gagging is a natural occurrence and is the body’s natural defense against choking. This happens when babies have too much food in their mouth and are presented with new textures and flavors. As long as they aren’t gagging too much during mealtime or causing them distress, gagging is common. However, if they are frequently gagging when trying to self-feed, this can cause them to have negative associations with eating or eating aversions. If this happens, avoid giving those foods or preparing those negative associations at the next mealtime.
Choking, however, is different and much more serious than gagging. Choking is when a piece of food gets lodged in the airway. Your baby may first begin coughing, then become silent. He will show difficulty breathing and will not be able to cry or make sounds due to the food obstructing his airway. This is a serious and life-threatening matter. This is why the types of food, foods’ sizes, and the consistency of foods are important when teaching your baby to self-feed.
This is an exciting time in your baby’s development. Remember, self-feeding is a learning process and takes time. If you see that your baby isn’t able to self-feed enough foods to fill them up during mealtime, which is common in the beginning, alternate feeding them purees and finger foods to fill them. I also suggest offering them a YoBaby yogurt pouch to fill them and allow them to continue practicing self-feeding! In the meantime, take lots of pictures of this fun and messy milestone and enjoy the process!
Note that the views and opinions expressed in this post are solely that of Baby Chick and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Stonyfield. The content provided and in any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you have any questions about health or nutrition, we always think it’s best to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner.
Teaching Your Baby to Self-Feed
Read time: 5 minutesWhat should I know about teaching my baby to feed themself?
Signs your baby is ready to self-feed
Ideas for first finger foods
Tips for introducing spoons and cups to your baby
As your baby becomes more experienced with eating, you may notice them becoming more interested in feeding themself. This transition to self-feeding usually starts between 7 and 9 months.1,2,3Signs your baby is ready to self-feed include
Grabbing the spoon while you are holding it
Reaching for food from their (or your!) plate
Even grabbing other objects, like toys, and bringing them to their mouth4,5
Once your baby starts showing an interest in feeding themself, it’s important to provide many opportunities for them to practice this skill. The key to mastering self-feeding is to let your baby try and try again.
Don’t wait until your baby’s teeth emerge to start finger foods! Babies do not actually need teeth in order to enjoy foods beyond purees. In fact, the teeth we use to chew are the molars, and those teeth generally don’t come in until well after baby’s first birthday.15
Babies’ gums are incredibly strong – if your little one has ever gnawed on your finger when teething, you know! And as long as the foods you present to your baby are size and texture appropriate, they can chew perfectly well without a full mouth of teeth.14
Ideally, the food you provide your little one should be soft and pea-sized to prevent choking. Make sure the food is ‘smushable’ between your fingers so that it’s soft enough to be gummed by your baby.How to start teaching your baby to self-feed with finger foods
A good way to start is placing a few small pieces of food on your baby’s highchair tray. Let your baby feel it. It may seem as if baby is just playing with the food, but touching and playing is a step in their learning process.2,5
Initially, your baby may grab for the food with a raking motion, using the entire fist to move the food toward their mouth. Grabbing the food in this way is called the palmer grasp, which is when baby’s fingers close over an object (such as your finger) in the palm of their hand.16
Around 9 months, your little one will develop the fine motor skill of grasping food with their thumb and forefinger, called the pincer grasp.5
Read more: Introducing Solids: First Foods and Advancing TexturesWhen to practice self-feeding
You can go about practicing self-feeding in many ways. First, try setting aside time at the beginning of the meal for practice. Since baby is hungrier at the start, this may help in motivating your little one to bring the food to their mouth themself.
Another way to try is to simply leave several pieces of food on baby’s tray to play and practice with while you alternate with spoon feeding. Allow your little one to try and put food in their mouth, then practice chewing and swallowing. Be sure that baby’s mouth is clear of food before offering anything from the spoon.
If your baby gets frustrated, allow them to finish the meal and eat how they normally would (such as with spoon feeding). Just remember to keep trying at other meals throughout the day (and every day).
Read more: Meal Plan for 6 to 9 Month Old BabyFirst finger foods
The foods you give your baby to practice self-feeding should be soft, easily ‘smushed’ between your fingers, and cut into small pea-sized pieces.
Here are some ideas for first finger foods:
Small pieces of ripe, soft bananas, avocados, peaches, mango, kiwi
Soft cooked sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, turnips
Grated or soft cooked (skinless) apples and pears
Soft cooked whole grain pasta
Cubes, strings, shredded, or small pea-sized pieces of cheese
Cooked shreds, small diced pieces, or ground cooked chicken, fish, or turkey
Berries cut into quarters
Beans cut into halves or quarters
In addition to the above ideas, your baby can eat bits of what you eat (without added salt or sugar) including different fruits, veggies, grains, meat, beans, spices and seasonings as long as the foods are small and soft enough to reduce choking risk.
Foods that pose a risk of choking should be avoided. Examples include nuts, whole grapes, hot dogs, raw carrots, raisins, popcorn, and portions of food that are too large.14 Also note that honey should not be given to infants before the age of 1 year.
Read more: Preventing Choking in Infants and ToddlersTime to practice with spoons and cups
Learning how to use spoons and cups not only involves demonstrating how to use each one, but also allowing your baby lots of practice both with your help and without. Let your little one get messy as they step into their independence with eating and drinking!Teaching your baby to use a spoon
After your baby masters self-feeding with their hands, the next step is offering utensils. Most children become good at using spoons and forks to self-feed between 15 to 18 months, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until then to start exposing them to utensils. 1,6,7
Just as your baby needed a lot of practice eating with their hands, they will also need many opportunities to attempt eating with utensils. A good way to begin encouraging this transition is to give them their own baby or toddler-friendly spoon or fork.Teaching your baby to use a cup
Learning to drink from a cup can also begin around this time.4,7 Use an open, sippy, or straw cup and allow your little one to practice with a small amount of water. Since formula and/or breastmilk will still provide a large amount of nutrition and all of the hydration for your little one at this age, only about 4 to 8 ounces of water total spread through the day are recommended.8
Letting your baby drink water from a cup on their own will not only build their fine motor skills (which may include lots of spills!), but will also help them form the important habit of drinking water. 8
Which should you use: cups? Sippy cups? Straw cups? Learn more here: Transitioning to Cups for Babies and ToddlersWhich foods to use when practicing using a spoon
Thicker foods like oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes, or yogurt blended with fruit are good practice foods since they will more easily stick to the utensil. It will be messy for a while but just remember that practice makes progress.
Once your baby has gotten the hang of dipping the utensil into the food and bringing it to their mouth, consider giving baby their own small bowl. There are some bowls with suction cups on the bottom and some that are attached to a mat – these may help prevent too many spills.
Let your baby to feed themself from their bowl while still feeding them from yours. Soon enough they’ll be eating a full meal without your help!
Remember, it is a learning process; it will take quite a while before your little one is neatly and skillfully feeding themself. In the meantime, have fun and be prepared to get messy!Tips for teaching your baby to feed themselfSupervise your baby during meals
It’s important to monitor your baby as they begin to eat more independently. Your baby is not only getting used to a new way of eating, but new textures too. Remaining by your baby during meals will allow you to monitor their tolerance for new textures and the amounts they are putting into their mouth.9Know the difference between gagging and choking
Gagging is the body’s natural defense against choking and is very common when babies start eating solid foods.10,11 Gagging may occur if the baby has too much food in their mouth or if the food moves towards the back of the mouth before they have chewed it sufficiently. While your baby may look scared and be making gagging noises, baby’s airway is not blocked. The gag reflex helps baby move the food back toward the front of the mouth so they may chew it more before swallowing.
Choking is when a piece of food becomes lodged in the airways causing baby to stop breathing.12 Your baby will be silent and perhaps flailing their arms. Choking is life threatening and requires immediate attention.
Learn more: Preventing Choking in Infants and ToddlersExpect and embrace the mess
Teaching your baby to feed themself will be messy. Invest in a few good bibs or apron type smocks that can better catch the food. Consider placing an old towel underneath the highchair if you are concerned with food falling on the floor. Keep a damp washcloth or paper towel by your side to help with spills.Enjoy family meals
Babies learn from you! If your baby is eating meals with the rest of the family, they will observe how everyone else is using their utensils to feed themselves, eating healthy foods, as well as other appropriate mealtime behaviors. 4,13
Read more: Family Meals: Developing Healthy Eating PatternsBe patient
Learning to self-feed takes time. Allow plenty of time for meals and never rush your baby to finish. Your little one is eating at the pace they are most comfortable with, allowing them to boost their learning.Let's Chat!
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
Introducing Solids: Signs of Readiness
Learning to Love Healthy Foods
Understanding your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues: Responsive Feeding
Introducing Solids: Baby Led Weaning
Feeding Tips for Healthy Weight Gain in Infants and Toddlers
Nutrient Needs and Feeding Tips for 6 to 12 Month Olds
Breastfeeding in the first month: what to expect
Not sure how to establish lactation and increase milk production? If you need help, support, or just want to know what to expect, read our first month breastfeeding advice
Share this information
The first weeks of breastfeeding are a very stressful period. If at times you feel like you can't handle it, know that you are not alone. Feeding your baby all day long is completely natural and helps produce breast milk, but can be quite tiring at times. Be patient, think about yourself and remember: after the first month, when milk production stabilizes, it will become easier. nine0003
How often should a baby be breastfed?
Babies are born with a small stomach that grows rapidly with increasing milk production: in the first week it is no larger than an apricot, and after two weeks it is already the size of a large chicken egg. 1.2 Let the child eat as much as he wants and when he wants. This will help him quickly regain the weight lost after birth and grow and develop further.
“Be prepared to feed every two to three hours throughout the day. At night, the intervals between feedings can be longer: three to four or even five hours, says Cathy Garbin, a recognized international expert on breastfeeding. Some eat quickly and are satiated in 15 minutes, while others take an entire hour to feed. Do not compare your breastfeeding regimen with that of other mothers - it is very likely that there will be nothing in common between them. nine0003
At each feed, give your baby a full meal from one breast and then offer a second one, but don't worry if the baby doesn't take it. When the baby is full, he lets go of his chest and at the same time looks relaxed and satisfied - so much so that he can immediately fall asleep. The next time you feed, start on the other breast. You can monitor the order of the mammary glands during feeding using a special application.
Why does the child always ask for a breast?
The first month is usually the hardest time to breastfeed. But do not think that because the baby is constantly hungry and asks for a breast almost every 45 minutes, then you do not have enough milk. nine0003
In the first month, the baby needs to eat frequently to start and stimulate the mother's milk production. It lays the foundation for a stable milk supply in the future. 3
In addition, we must not forget that the child needs almost constant contact with the mother. The bright light and noise of the surrounding world at first frighten the baby, and only by clinging to his mother, he can calm down.
Sarah, mother of three from the UK, confirms: “Crying is not always a sign of hunger. Sometimes my kids just wanted me to be around and begged for breasts to calm them down. Use a sling. Place the cradle next to the bed. Don't look at the clock. Take advantage of every opportunity to relax. Forget about cleaning. Let those around you take care of you. And not three days, but six weeks at least! Hug your baby, enjoy the comfort - and trust your body." nine0003
Do I need to feed my baby on a schedule?
Your baby is still too young for a strict daily routine, so
forget about breastfeeding schedules and focus on his needs.
“Volumes have been written about how to feed a baby on a schedule, but babies don't read or understand books,” Cathy says. - All children are different. Some people can eat on a schedule, but most can't. Most often, over time, the child develops his own schedule.
Some mothers report that their babies are fine with scheduled feedings, but they are probably just the few babies who would eat every four hours anyway. Adults rarely eat and drink the same foods at the same time of day - so why do we expect this from toddlers?
Offer your baby the breast at the first sign of hunger. Crying is already the last stage, so be attentive to early signs: the baby licks his lips, opens his mouth, sucks his fist, turns his head with his mouth open - looking for the breast. nine0013 4
What is a "milk flush"?
At the beginning of each feed, a hungry baby actively sucks on the nipple,
thereby stimulating the milk flow reflex - the movement of milk through the milk ducts. 5
“Nipple stimulation triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin,” explains Cathy. “Oxytocin is distributed throughout the body and causes the muscles around the milk-producing glands to contract and the milk ducts to dilate. This stimulates the flow of milk. nine0003
If the flushing reflex fails, milk will not come out. This is a hormonal response, and under stress it may not work at all or work poorly. Therefore, it is so important that you feel comfortable and calm when feeding.
“Studies show that each mother has a different rhythm of hot flashes during one feed,” Kathy continues, “Oxytocin is a short-acting hormone, it breaks down in just 30-40 seconds after formation. Milk begins to flow, the baby eats, the effect of oxytocin ends, but then a new rush of milk occurs, the baby continues to suckle the breast, and this process is repeated cyclically. That is why, during feeding, the child periodically stops and rests - this is how nature intended. nine0003
The flow of milk may be accompanied by a strong sensation of movement or tingling in the chest, although 21% of mothers, according to surveys, do not feel anything at all. 5 Cathy explains: “Many women only feel the first rush of milk. If you do not feel hot flashes, do not worry: since the child eats normally, most likely, you simply do not understand that they are.
How do you know if a baby is getting enough milk?
Since it is impossible to track how much milk a baby eats while breastfeeding, mothers sometimes worry that the baby is malnourished. Trust your child and your body. nine0003
After a rush of milk, the baby usually begins to suckle more slowly. Some mothers clearly hear how the baby swallows, others do not notice it. But one way or another, the child himself will show when he is full - just watch carefully. Many babies make two or three approaches to the breast at one feeding. 6
“When a child has had enough, it is noticeable almost immediately: a kind of “milk intoxication” sets in. The baby is relaxed and makes it clear with his whole body that he is completely full, says Katie, “Diapers are another great way to assess whether the baby is getting enough milk. During this period, a breastfed baby should have at least five wet diapers a day and at least two portions of soft yellow stool, and often more. ” nine0003
From one month until weaning at six months of age, a baby's stool (if exclusively breastfed) should look the same every day: yellow, grainy, loose, and watery.
When is the child's birth weight restored?
Most newborns lose weight in the first few days of life. This is normal and should not be cause for concern. As a rule, weight is reduced by 5-7%, although some may lose up to 10%. One way or another, by 10–14 days, almost all newborns regain their birth weight. In the first three to four months, the minimum expected weight gain is an average of 150 grams per week. But one week the child may gain weight faster, and the next slower, so it is necessary that the attending physician monitor the health and growth of the baby constantly. nine0013 7.8
At the slightest doubt or signs of dehydration, such as
dark urine, no stool for more than 24 hours, retraction of the fontanel (soft spot on the head), yellowing of the skin, drowsiness, lethargy, lack of appetite (ability to four to six hours without feeding), you should immediately consult a doctor. 7
What is "cluster feeding"?
When a baby asks to breastfeed very often for several hours, this is called cluster feeding. nine0013 6 The peak often occurs in the evening between 18:00 and 22:00, just when many babies are especially restless and need close contact with their mother. Most often, mothers complain about this in the period from two to nine weeks after childbirth. This is perfectly normal and common behavior as long as the baby is otherwise healthy, eating well, gaining weight normally, and appears content throughout the day. 9
Cluster feeding can be caused by a sharp jump in the development of the body - during this period the baby especially needs love, comfort and a sense of security. The growing brain of a child is so excited that it can be difficult for him to turn off, or it just scares the baby. nine0013 9 If a child is overworked, it is often difficult for him or her to calm down on his own, and adult help is needed. And breastfeeding is the best way to calm the baby, because breast milk is not only food, but also pain reliever and a source of happiness hormones. 10
“Nobody told me about cluster feeding, so for the first 10 days I just went crazy with worry - I was sure that my milk was not enough for the baby,” recalls Camille, a mother from Australia, “It was a very difficult period . I was advised to pump and supplement until I finally contacted the Australian Breastfeeding Association. There they explained to me what was happening: it turned out that it was not about milk at all. nine0003
Remember, this is temporary. Try to prepare dinner for yourself in the afternoon, when the baby is fast asleep, so that in the evening, when he begins to often breastfeed, you have the opportunity to quickly warm up the food and have a snack. If you are not alone, arrange to carry and rock the baby in turns so that you have the opportunity to rest. If you have no one to turn to for help and you feel that your strength is leaving you, put the baby in the crib and rest for a few minutes, and then pick it up again. nine0003
Ask your partner, family and friends to help you with household chores, cooking and caring for older children if you have any. If possible, hire an au pair. Get as much rest as possible, eat well and drink plenty of water.
“My daughter slept a lot during the day, but from 23:00 to 5:00 the cluster feeding period began, which was very tiring,” recalls Jenal, a mother from the USA, “My husband tried his best to make life easier for me - washed, cleaned, cooked, changed diapers, let me sleep at every opportunity and never tired of assuring me that we were doing well. nine0003
If you are concerned about the frequency of breastfeeding, it is worth contacting a specialist. “Check with a lactation consultant or doctor to see if this is indicative of any problems,” recommends Cathy. “Resist the temptation to supplement your baby with formula (unless recommended by your doctor) until you find the cause. It may not be a matter of limited milk production at all - it may be that the child is inefficiently sucking it.
When will breastfeeding become easier? nine0011
This early stage is very special and does not last long. Although sometimes it seems that there will be no end to it, rest assured: it will get easier soon! By the end of the first month, breast milk production will stabilize, and the baby will become stronger and learn to suckle better. 2.3 Any problems with latch on by this time will most likely be resolved and the body will be able to produce milk more efficiently so inflammation and leakage of milk will begin to subside.
“The first four to six weeks are the hardest, but then things start to get better,” Cathy assures. It just needs to be experienced!” nine0003
The longer breastfeeding continues, the more benefits it brings, from saving on formula and improving sleep quality 11–13 to boosting your baby's immune system 14 and reducing your risk of certain cancers. 15
“When you feel like you're pushing yourself, try to go from feed to feed and day to day,” says Hannah, a UK mom. “I was sure I wouldn’t make it to eight weeks. And now I have been breastfeeding for almost 17 weeks, and I dare say it is very easy.” nine0003
Read the resource Breastfeeding Beyond the First Month: What to Expect
1 Naveed M et al. An autopsy study of relationship between perinatal stomach capacity and birth weight. Indian J Gastroenterol .1992;11(4):156-158. - Navid M. et al., Association between prenatal gastric volume and birth weight. Autopsy. Indian J Gastroenterol. 1992;11(4):156-158.
2 Neville MC et al. Studies in human lactation: milk volumes in lactating women during the onset of lactation and full lactation .Am J Clinl Nutr . 1988;48(6):1375-1386. at the beginning and at the peak of lactation." Am F Clean Nutr. 1988;48(6):1375-1386.
3 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. J Obstet , Gynecol , & Neonatal Nurs . 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". J Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121. nine0129
4 Australian Breastfeeding Feeding cues ; 2017 Sep [ cited 2018 Feb ]. - Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet], Feed Ready Signals; September 2017 [cited February 2018]
5 Kent JC et al. Response of breasts to different stimulation patterns of an electric breast pump. J Human Lact . 2003;19(2):179-186. - Kent J.S. et al., Breast Response to Different Types of Electric Breast Pump Stimulation. J Human Lact (Journal of the International Association of Lactation Consultants). 2003;19(2):179-186.
6) Kent JC et al . Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day. Pediatrics. 2006;117(3): e 387-395. - Kent J.S. et al., "Amount and frequency of breastfeeding and fat content of breast milk during the day." Pediatrix (Pediatrics). 2006;117(3):e387-95.
7 Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession. 7th ed. Maryland Heights MO, USA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010. 1128 p . - Lawrence R.A., Lawrence R.M., "Breastfeeding: A guide for healthcare professionals." Seventh edition. Publisher Maryland Heights , Missouri, USA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010. P. 1128.
8 World Health Organization. [Internet]. Child growth standards; 2018 [cited 2018 Feb] - World Health Organization. [Internet]. Child Growth Standards 2018 [cited February 2018]. nine0129
9 Australian Breastfeeding Association . [ Internet ]. Cluster feeding and fussing babies ; Dec 2017 [ cited 2018 Feb ] - Australian Breastfeeding Association [Internet], Cluster Feeding and Screaming Babies; December 2017 [cited February 2018]. nine0129
10 Moberg KU, Prime DK. Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding. Infant . 2013;9(6):201-206.- Moberg K, Prime DK, "Oxytocin effects on mother and child during breastfeeding". Infant. 2013;9(6):201-206.
11 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services [Internet]. Surgeon General Breastfeeding factsheet; 2011 Jan 20 [cited 2017 Feb] - Department of Health and Human Services [Internet], "Breastfeeding Facts from the Chief Medical Officer", Jan 20, 2011 [cited Feb 2017]
12 Kendall-Tackett K et al. The effect of feeding method on sleep duration, maternal well-being, and postpartum depression. clinical lactation. 2011;1;2(2):22-26. - Kendall-Tuckett, K. et al., "Influence of feeding pattern on sleep duration, maternal well-being and the development of postpartum depression." Clinical Lactation. 2011;2(2):22-26.
13 Brown A, Harries V. Infant sleep and night feeding patterns during later infancy: Association with breastfeeding frequency, daytime complementary food intake, and infant weight. Breast Med . 2015;10(5):246-252. - Brown A., Harris W., "Night feedings and infant sleep in the first year of life and their association with feeding frequency, daytime supplementation, and infant weight." Brest Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2015;10(5):246-252.
14 Hassiotou F et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl immunology. 2013;2(4). - Hassiot F. et al., "Infectious diseases of the mother and child stimulate a rapid leukocyte reaction in breast milk." nine0129 Clean Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4):e3.
15 Li DP et al. Breastfeeding and ovarian cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 40 epidemiological studies. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev . 2014;15(12):4829-4837. - Lee D.P. et al., "Breastfeeding and the risk of ovarian cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 40 epidemiological studies." Asia Pas J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(12):4829-4837.
Breastfeeding on demand
You can often hear from a nursing mother: "I feed on demand, my baby requires a breast every 3.5 hours." Or: “I have always fed on demand. In a year, we already had 1 feeding in the evening, and my child calmly refused to breastfeed. Before talking about the demand of the child, it is necessary to find out what modern women mean when they say - "I breastfeed."
Modern mothers consider breastfeeding necessary for feeding their baby. Just for feeding. Breast milk is food, the mother supplies the baby with the nutrients necessary for growth and development. When a baby suckles at the breast, he eats. Breastfeeding makes sense only as a process of supplying proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and microelements. nine0003
During suckling, the baby receives the nutrients it needs with mother's milk. This is the absolute truth. There is another unconditional truth, which is not given any importance in modern society, it is not taken into account and is not considered. Breastfeeding for a child is communication with the mother. We need to figure out how the child understands feeding on demand? Can he understand anything at all? Is there any difference for him how he is fed, for 15-20 minutes after 3. 5 hours or in some other way? nine0003
What is on-demand feeding
On-demand feeding of a newborn baby means putting it to the breast for every squeak or search. Squeak and search movements in newborns, even as early as the second or third day of life, begin to appear much more often than after 3.5 or 2.5 hours. The need for attachments increases rapidly, and by the 10-12th day of life, the need to attach to a child may occur 15-16 or more times a day. Applications vary in duration. The baby can fall asleep and sleep while sucking for, for example, 1.5-2 hours. Can release the breast after 1-2 minutes. And then ask her again. Why does a child need such frequent contact with his mother's breast? nine0003
That's why. Being in the mother's belly, in a calm, familiar environment, listening to the noises of the mother's body, being in a warm, cramped, confined space, the baby sucked his fist, fingers, loops of the umbilical cord, swallowed amniotic fluid. Learned to suck and swallow. After birth, experiencing discomfort for any, the most insignificant reason, the baby tries to get rid of it. You can get rid of discomfort by getting into the usual conditions of a comfortable stay. The only place where the baby after birth can feel the sensations familiar to him is in the arms of the mother. The only familiar action is sucking. The only familiar taste and smell is the taste and smell of milk and lube in the areola. Milk and lubricant have an odor and taste similar to the taste and smell of amniotic fluid. Therefore, experiencing discomfort, the baby squeaks, or begins to look for an object to suck with his mouth. Ideally, it is immediately applied to the chest. The baby becomes warm, cramped, he hears the beating of his mother's heart, breathing, grumbling in the intestines, he sucks and feels the familiar taste and smell. If such an action happens constantly, the baby gains confidence, no matter what happens, he will solve all his problems with his mother. The place of comfort is now under the breast, and you can suck on the breast. nine0003
This whole process is justified from a biological point of view. A newborn child does not feel the feeling of hunger, this feeling is not formed in him. It will begin to form at about two months of age. How to feed a creature that does not experience hunger ?! How to encourage him to take some action to get food? This can be done only at the expense of some other incentives. This stimulus for the newborn is constant bodily discomfort, thanks to which he wants to suckle all the time! The most intense, frequent and prolonged sucking in infants is observed in the first two or three months of life. It is in these first months that the main weight gain of the baby occurs. nine0003
Feeding in the first month
Baby falls asleep with the breast in his mouth, sleeps sucking for a while. Falling asleep deeply, lets go of the chest. After sleeping for a while, he wakes up, and is applied on waking. After sleep, he can stay awake for some time, for example, an hour and a half. During wakefulness, he may feel discomfort 2-3 times, for example, from a completely natural desire to pee, and having called his mother for help, having kissed for a couple of minutes, he will do his deeds. Then he will want to sleep, feel discomfort and, kissing his chest, will again fall asleep sucking. After some time, he will wake up and attach again. Then again a little "walk". And after some time, he will fall asleep at the chest again. nine0003
The daytime naps of a one-month-old baby feeding on demand vary in duration and number. There can be 4-6 dreams during the day, and they can last from 5-15 minutes to 2-2.5 sometimes 3 hours. "Around" each dream, the baby is applied to the chest, and applied between dreams several times. At night, the child falls asleep at the breast. Usually in the early morning hours, he begins to fuss and apply. In the morning, he almost never fully wakes up. The baby sleeps, from time to time, sucking on his mother's breast. Waking up in the morning, the baby is again applied to the chest. If you count all the attachments that have happened in a baby of one month of age, then approximately 16-20 attachments are obtained. This is how a newborn human cub behaves if it is given the opportunity to behave in accordance with physiological and psychological needs, which, by the way, are genetically determined. The child of the first months of life does not separate his personality from the personality of the mother and from her breast. Mom and her breasts, and everything connected with them, are the universe of the baby and himself. nine0003
In most cases, a modern woman, being afraid to “accustom a child to hands”, strives to limit his requests for suckling. A pacifier and a bottle of tea or water come to her aid in this matter. They, too, can be sucked ... The need for sucking seems to be satisfied. But only the need for communication with the mother during suckling is not satisfied, the peculiar chain of mutual assistance and cooperation between mother and baby is destroyed, the formation of maternal affection and concentration is disrupted. Is the difference in the two actions noticeable to the reader: the baby cried, the mother took him, put him to her chest and started rocking him, or gave him a pacifier and started rocking the stroller, even with the words “Why are you crying, my sun?” nine0003
The modern woman who gives a pacifier and pumps a stroller is not a bad person who deliberately harms an infant. She is simply in captivity of prejudices regarding the relationship between mother and baby. She does not know how to behave correctly, does not know what to do in accordance with the natural needs of the child. If you tell her what the child really needs, she will exclaim in horror: “What is it, don’t let him get away with?!” Indeed, the child of the first months of life must not be let off the hook. For a woman who does not know how to comfortably carry a baby, and who does not know how to feed him in various positions (sitting, lying, standing and even moving), this can be very difficult. Especially if she is not sure of the correctness of her actions. nine0003
An action that should become automatic for the mother of a newborn: when the baby cries or shows other signs of anxiety, put the baby to the breast.
The baby is growing. A fairly stable rhythm of daytime sleep begins to form in him, and a 3-4-month-old baby behaves quite differently from a newborn. Feeding on demand at this age looks something like this...
- At three months, the baby has 10-12 feeds during the day and 2-4 at night. There are frequent applications for a short time, but their number is reduced. There may be a long night break in feedings, about 5 hours, but this is very rare. Much more often the night break is 2.5-3.5 hours. By this age, the baby's body is noticeably rounded. nine0455
- At four months, the baby begins to breastfeed noticeably less frequently. The main feedings are associated with sleep: the baby suckles before bedtime, during awakening and during sleep, both daytime and nighttime. In this regard, he has a fairly accurate feeding regimen. And many babies stop breastfeeding when they wake up after daytime sleep, sometimes as early as 2.5-3 months.
- At five months, the baby has 8-10 daytime feedings and 2-3 nighttime feedings, as well as in the fourth month of life, they are organized around dreams - the baby eats when going to bed and some babies suck during awakening. nine0455
- Feeding regimen changes at six months. The most active sucking shifts to the last 2-3 hours before waking up from a night's sleep. The period of daytime wakefulness can be divided into two periods: in the morning, when the baby sucked during the night is rarely applied to the breast, and in the evening, when attachments become very frequent. In total, there can be 7-10 day applications and 3-4 night applications. At this age, the baby begins a period of acquaintance with new food - pedagogical complementary foods. Sometimes there are attachments associated with the introduction of complementary foods, the baby “washes down” samples of new food with mother's milk. But many children do not want to drink complementary foods. When complementary foods are introduced to an on-demand baby, it is never meant to replace feedings with complementary foods. This is practically impossible, because the main feedings of the baby are associated with sleep, and mother's breakfasts, lunches and dinners, during which the baby gets acquainted with new food, are located between the baby's dreams, during his wakefulness. nine0455
- At seven months, the frequency of applications is about the same.
- At eight months, the feeding regimen changes. Since the baby shows high motor activity and is very busy exploring the surrounding space, in the daytime he forgets to breastfeed. In this regard, the number of daily feedings can be reduced to 6-8 times. The baby compensates for the reduction in daytime feedings by increasing the frequency and duration of nighttime feedings up to 6 times. nine0454 In the second half of the year, babies who stopped breastfeeding when waking up after daytime naps recall this habit again. The baby’s daytime sleep in the second half of life, as well as in the region of a year and older, looks something like this: the baby falls asleep sucking, sleeps quietly for a while, for example 1-1.5 hours, then starts tossing and turning, fiddling, worrying, at this moment the mother lies down next to , gives him a breast and the baby can fill up 10-15-30 minutes sucking. Mom may well use this time for her own rest - lie down, read, while the baby sleeps while sucking. I know my mother, a lover of embroidery, who used this time specifically for embroidery ...
- Breastfeeding becomes more frequent at nine to ten months. In the daytime, this is 4-6 full feedings and about the same number of attachments for various reasons. The baby has new reasons for attachment. If, during active actions to master the world, the baby fills a bump or gets scared, he calms down with his mother's breast. There may be situations when you can comfort the baby by sitting next to him and hugging him. At night, 4-6 feedings remain, the baby begins to suckle more actively in the morning between 3 and 8 hours. nine0455
- At eleven months, a baby can already have 2-3 complete complementary foods. Initiation to adult food in the mind of a child is not associated with breastfeeding: attachment to the mother's breast is something other than the desire to get enough of the product they like. As a rule, after the baby has eaten, he feels the need to attach himself to the breast. The number of daily feedings remains the same in the child, but the number of short-term attachments increases. There are active mid-morning feedings between 4 and 8 o'clock in the morning. nine0455
- At ten or twelve months, the baby, if he is already walking, can sometimes breastfeed every time he comes to his mother, i.e. about every 15-30 minutes. Attachments around dreams and night sucking persist. Therefore, if a mother says that a child suckles once or twice a day, this means that there is no feeding at the request of the child. There are restrictions imposed by the mother, with which the baby has come to terms. He treats breast sucking like food, sucks on a pacifier or a finger to fall asleep or soothe, or falls asleep just like that, without calming down. nine0455
- At twelve months, the baby is applied in about the same way.
- At the age of one and a half years, there may already be one daytime nap, so there are fewer attachments associated with sleep. Preserved for morning sucking. The baby is very free with his mother's breasts. Sometimes it happens that he comes up to suck just for fun. For example, like this: he comes up, climbs on his knees, looks into his mother’s face, smiles, starts to swarm in his shirt, gets breasts, smiles at his breasts, sucks for 30 seconds and leaves. nine0455
As for the number of feedings per day when feeding a child on demand, their number is almost never less than 12. A newborn has 12 or more attachments, mostly they are all associated with dreams. And a child, say 1.5-2 years old, can also have about 12 attachments, only 3-4 are associated with sleep, and the rest are short-term attachments for various reasons. I suggest to all mothers reading this text - do not count the application, do not notice their duration. Breastfeed your baby as often as he asks, when you feel the need to. nine0003
Mothers who do not think about breastfeeding without looking at the clock may get the impression that when feeding on demand, the mother can do nothing but feed the baby. This is not true. After the birth of a baby, a mother begins another life, she is called life with a baby. That's all. The child is with the mother, not the mother with the child! Feel the difference! You need to be able to organize your life in a different way, in the first months, of course, the help of loved ones is very necessary. In the tradition of many peoples, it was customary for the first 40 days after childbirth to remove a woman from any housework and household chores, she was engaged only in a child. In some nations, objects that the mother of a newborn touched were considered “unclean”, therefore, they preferred to protect the mother from the rest of the household, allocating her a separate “corner” of the house, where no one bothered her and she did not interfere with anyone. Among the Slavs, such a restrictive custom was called a six-week. By 1.5-2 months, the rhythm of daytime dreams begins to form, and the baby has a kind of “regime”, the mother becomes more free. nine0003
For a mother who can't imagine breastfeeding without looking at the clock, and who is sure that the “right” baby is the baby lying quietly in her crib all the time, feeding on demand will be a complete hassle. It will be much easier for such a mother if she stops looking at the clock and ties the baby to herself with a large scarf or uses a patchwork holder (sling). It will become easier for her if she stops running between the nursery and the kitchen, but takes the baby with her to the kitchen and carries him around the house with her, doing housework, in a box, a cradle, a special chair, if she tries not to put him off often, and pick up as soon as possible, postponing the baby only in case of emergency and not for long. nine0003
Breastfeeding is not the same as house arrest. In the conditions of modern society, it is possible to organize the exit of a nursing mother to work from about 6 months of age of the baby. If necessary, you can start working from the age of 4 months, but, of course, it is better not every day of the week and not full time. It is the responsibility of a breastfeeding consultant to help a mother organize her return to work.
Sometimes, when counseling mothers on breastfeeding, I suggest that they forget for a second that they are already living in the 21st century. I propose to return, for example, to the cave and ask what they will do if the child woke up at night, how to calm him down? If you are walking through the forest and trying not to attract the attention of predators, how to make the baby silent? If the child is thirsty, what will you give him? What is the baby used to, for thousands of years of its existence? To the fact that he sleeps on his mother while she wanders through the forest with a digging stick in search of roots, and wakes up when mother stops. Since mom stopped, then there is time to wake up and suck. Therefore, even now the child sleeps well, tied to the mother with a patchwork holder, wakes up when the mother, having done a few household chores, sits in a chair to take care of the baby. nine0003
Some mother, reading about the cave, will be offended, saying that she is a civilized creature. But please think. Man, mother's breast and mother's milk have been created by evolution over millions of years. They are made for each other. Baby food has created progress and more recently. The skills of motherhood and breastfeeding have also been lost by our society quite recently. A person is not physiologically adapted to artificial feeding and a pacifier. The mother's breast will not produce enough milk at 6-7 feedings per day. Nature did not know, when creating man as a mammal, that the time would come when the need for breastfeeding would be satisfied by some kind of pacifiers and nipples. nine0003
Changes that occur during the formation of the personality of a child who did not have full contact with the mother during prolonged breastfeeding are noted by modern research by psychologists and sociologists.