What is the best way to feed a baby

How should I feed my baby? | Baby Feeding Methods

In this series Breastfeeding Your Baby Mastitis and Breast Abscess Bottle-feeding Your Baby Weaning Your Baby Feeding Your Toddler

How should I feed my baby?

One of the first decisions you will make, after your baby is born, is how to feed him or her. Most mums will have the choice of either breastfeeding or bottle-feeding from the start.

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Should I breastfeed or bottle-feed?

The benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby are so great that experts recommend that, in almost every circumstance, breastfeeding your baby for the first six months is the best option for both your health and your baby's health, even in countries where infant formula is easily obtained and water supplies are clean and safe. Nevertheless, deciding whether to do this is a personal decision and you need to consider both the pros and cons of both types of feeding for you and your baby. You don't have to choose completely between them - you can do both, for different periods of time and in different proportions. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, and to help you think them through we have listed the main ones here:

Advantages of breastfeeding to your baby

  • Breastfeeding provides your child with the perfect, tailor-made source of nutrition, the one that nature evolved for them. It is the easiest food for them to digest, so it possibly causes less gas and colic.
  • Breast milk, particularly first milk, helps protect your baby from illness during infancy, particularly tummy bugs and ear infections. It also reduces the incidence of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome).
  • Breastfeeding has lasting benefits for your baby's metabolism, reducing the chance of obesity and diabetes, and of allergies like eczema, later.
  • Breastfeeding makes feeding simple: no other fluids (such as water) are needed for a breast-fed baby. In the hottest weather, the breast milk composition changes, to provide everything your baby needs.
  • Breastfeeding enhances the bonding process between baby and mother. Being cuddled naked, against the mother's bare skin for as long as possible at birth, is important. This can of course be done even if you do not breastfeed.
  • Babies generally 'take to' the taste of breast milk quickly, whereas not all babies like the taste of all bottled milks.
  • A breast-fed baby's bowel movements are less smelly and are not irritating to a baby's skin. Breast-fed babies are less prone therefore to nappy rash.
  • Breast-fed babies don't usually get diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Breast-fed babies tend to be less fussy at weaning.
  • Breast milk appears to help loosen a newborn baby's mucus and it acts as a laxative helping with the passage of the first poo (meconium).
  • Breast-fed babies perform slightly better in intelligence tests in early childhood.
  • Breastfeeding is comforting for you and your baby (although this can equally be true of bottle-feeding).

Advantages of breastfeeding to you

  • Breastfeeding will help speed your recovery from childbirth, particularly the shrinking down of your womb after delivery.
  • Breastfeeding helps you manage the initial breast 'engorgement' which often appears around day 3-4 and which can be very uncomfortable.
  • Breastfeeding is convenient: you don't have to prepare bottles. It is also the cheapest option - it's free.
  • Breastfeeding slightly reduces the chance of postnatal depression.
  • Breastfeeding gives you later protection, to some degree, against ovarian and breast cancer. It also decreases your chances of developing 'thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis), diabetes and obesity as you age.
  • Night-time feedings are easier and quicker when you breastfeed, meaning that you get more sleep.
  • Breastfeeding usually delays the return of your period for three months or more. Whilst you are breastfeeding exclusively, your fertility is suppressed for up to six months - a natural birth control method which is up to 98% effective.
  • Pumping or expressing your breast milk can give you some freedom, allowing you to spend time away from your baby yet continue to provide breast milk, and giving your partner the ability to participate in feedings.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life provides the maximum benefit. However, any breastfeeding that you do will bring you and your baby benefits. 

Advantages of bottle-feeding

  • You have more flexibility in being away from your baby if you have to work, for example. (Although you can express or supplement breastfeeding with bottle-feeding, in the first few days when your breast milk supply is just establishing this is not so easy to do, so you can't easily be away from your baby. )
  • Breastfeeding can be tiring, especially during the first few weeks when you are feeding your baby on demand. Bottle-feeding is easier to delegate when you are tired, allowing you to rest properly and have more energy overall.
  • Breastfeeding can be painful: common problems include breast engorgement, leaking, sore nipples and infection of the breast (mastitis). Bottle-feeding allows your breasts to settle down more quickly after pregnancy.
  • Your partner can't breastfeed, and may feel a little left out (although you can express to allow them to bottle-feed).
  • You may find breastfeeding in public awkward and embarrassing, making it difficult to go out with your baby. Bottle-feeding removes this worry (whether feeding expressed milk or formula).
  • Bottle-feeding allows you to see how much milk your baby has taken, which you may find reassuring.
  • Breastfeeding can be difficult at first. Not all babies latch on immediately and breastfeed well, and you may find breastfeeding stressful and be unsure whether your baby has fed properly.
  • Breastfeeding can be particularly difficult if you have more than one baby to feed; partially or completely using bottles may help you manage.
  • Women who have had surgery to their breasts, including cosmetic surgery, can have a decreased flow of breast milk - the effect depends on precisely what surgery they have had.
  • Some women worry that they cannot produce enough milk to satisfy their baby, and bottle milk relieves this anxiety.
  • Bottle-feeding may be safer for your baby if you need to be on medications which would enter your breast milk and be harmful for your baby, or if your baby needs a specially adapted milk because they have a medical condition.
  • Women who are HIV positive are advised not to breastfeed unless in a country or situation where safe supplies of formula and water are not readily available.
  • Other, practical reasons why your baby might need to bottle-feed include you not being with your baby (for example, because of adoption, prematurity, or sickness in you or your baby, or because you need to return to work early).
  • If your baby is born before 32 weeks it can be harder to establish your breast milk supply, so some bottle-feeding may take the pressure off you as you try to establish your supply.
  • Some women just prefer the idea of bottle-feeding (although they may be able to express for a while if they want to give their baby breast milk).

Advantages of combination feeding

Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can breastfeed fully or partly, and many mums combine breastfeeding and formula feeding, and breast-milk pumping, in differing proportions. It's easiest to begin combination feeding once you have breast-fed for six weeks so that your supply is fully established; however, you can try it sooner if you need or want to.

Combining breastfeeding with bottle-feeding offers the advantages and disadvantages of both options. It makes you more flexible, as you can move between the two, which might suit you if, for example:

  • You want to breastfeed but would like your partner to share in the feeding routines
  • You want to breastfeed but also to preserve your energy and offer the baby the best of both worlds
  • You are breastfeeding but want to be able to give bottles of formula for one or more feeds so that you can get some rest
  • You began by bottle-feeding your baby and have decided that you want to start breastfeeding
  • You need to leave your baby and want to make sure they have some milk while you're away
  • You have twins or more and feel this would be more manageable

Introducing formula feeds will tend to reduce the amount of breast milk you produce and this is more so if you do so in the first six weeks, whilst your breast-milk supply is adjusting to an 'even keel'. Your baby also has to learn to use a different kind of suck at the bottle than at the breast. However, with perseverance many mothers manage it successfully.

How do I express breast milk?

You might want to express milk because your breasts are engorged and you want to relieve the pressure, because your baby is very premature and not yet able to suck (see below), or because you need or want someone else to be able to feed your baby too. Expressing your own breast milk is a technique you can learn quite quickly, although it may take a little practice at first. Expressing breast milk is as it sounds: you 'milk' your breast for the supply it contains, and store the expressed milk so that you (or someone else) are able to give it to your baby from a bottle.

You can express milk using a pump (hand or electric) or by hand (often easiest at first). You can rent 'hospital-grade' breast pumps, which are the most effective. You can keep expressed milk in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze it for up to six months.

More detail on how to express breast milk is given in the separate leaflet called Breastfeeding Your Baby.

How should I feed my newborn baby?

You should offer your newborn baby a feed as soon as possible after birth. You can usually choose breastfeeding or bottle-feeding from the very start. Breastmilk, particularly early breast milk, is massively beneficial for your baby, and for this reason many mums who want to bottle-feed decide to breastfeed for the first couple of weeks. This means that they give their baby the important first milk (colostrum) before switching over to formula. 

Your midwife will be there to help you establish feeding, until you can do it confidently without help, so you won't be doing this alone. 

How often will my baby want to feed immediately after birth?

Straight after birth your baby will, like you, be tired and probably hungry. Some babies will want to feed straightaway; others may seem less keen to do so. Your midwife will encourage your baby to feed in the first hour after birth, as this helps both you and your baby recover from labour. It is particularly important for the babies of mums with diabetes to be encouraged to feed in the first half an hour or so after birth, as these babies can be particularly prone to developing low blood sugar otherwise.

Babies will vary greatly as to whether they will want to keep feeding in the first few hours after birth, or as to whether they seem to need a sleep. Newborn babies should be allowed to feed as often as they wish. If the baby is sucking actively they should be kept on the breast or bottle until they slow or stop. If you are breastfeeding you should offer the second breast before stopping (because it may be that the flow has slowed in the first breast but your baby is still hungry).

Will I have any milk in the first few hours?

When your baby is born your breasts will already be producing colostrum, which you may have noticed leaking from your breasts in late pregnancy. This yellowish 'milk' is a bit thicker than mature breast milk. Colostrum is only produced for the first few days of your baby's life, after which it gradually changes (and increases in quantity) to mature breast milk. Colostrum is very important to your baby. Even if you don't plan to breastfeed in the long term, any colostrum that you feed your baby will have long-term value to him or her.

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is a milky yellow 'first milk' which contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, antibodies and immune cells that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. It helps you pass on to your baby the immunity you have 'earned' through fighting infections yourself. This is hugely helpful to your baby, whose own immune defence system is not yet fully developed. Having their mother's colostrum reduces tummy and ear infections in babies in later childhood. Colostrum also helps prevent babies from developing early jaundice. 

Many mothers who don't want to go on to breastfeed decide to give their baby that vital, initial colostrum. After this, over the first two weeks the milk gradually changes from colostrum through a 'transitional milk' to 'mature' breast milk. In the first 24 hours after the birth you will produce about 40 ml of colostrum, and your baby will take about a fifth of this during a feed.

How does feeding my baby the colostrum help my body?

Breastfeeding in the minutes and hours just after your baby is delivered helps your womb expel the afterbirth (placenta) more efficiently and then helps it contract firmly down towards its pre-pregnant size. This helps kick-start the process of your own return to normal shape and can also help relieve the breast engorgement that usually arrives around day 3-4 after birth (whether or not you breastfeed).

How do I feed my premature baby?

Premature babies are ideally given breast milk from birth, although before 32 weeks of gestation they may not yet be strong enough to feed directly. If you are making milk and your baby is strong enough to suckle, you will usually be encouraged to breastfeed, as breastfeeding is particularly helpful for premature babies. If you are unable to breastfeed initially, or decide not to, your premature baby may be given formula milk or, occasionally after discussion with you, expressed donor milk.

  • If your baby is extremely premature, his or her digestive system may not yet be mature enough to have food in the stomach, so feeding may need to be into a vein using a special nutrient rich solution called TPN (this stands for total parenteral nutrition).
  • Premature babies who are ready to digest milk but not yet strong enough to suckle, may be given breast or formula milk through a tiny tube which goes to the stomach. Ideally your own breast milk will be used, if you can express it. Premature babies may also need food supplements, or special premature baby formula, to make up for the time in the womb that they have missed.
  • If your baby is very early it may take a little while for you to produce milk. However, if you keep expressing regularly, eight times a day, the milk is likely to come in. Whilst your milk supply isn't fully established then the team may talk consider using donated human breast milk or formula, until you can replace it with your own breast milk.
  • Your baby may continue tube feeding while they are learning to feed from the breast, from a cup or from a bottle, to make sure they get enough food.

How do I express breast milk for my premature baby?

To express milk for your premature baby, you should start hand expressing within six hours of delivering your baby. You'll need to do this eight to ten times a day, including once during the night. In the first few days you may make only a few drops of milk each time, which can seem like very little, but every single drop counts.

How many calories are there in colostrum and breast and formula milk?

Colostrum has around 50 calories per oz and mature breast milk has 60-75 calories, as does infant formula. When producing mature milk, each breast will produce 'richer' milk with a higher fat content towards the end of a feed when it is nearly empty, so it is important that breastfeeding babies get the opportunity to empty one breast before feeding from the other, so that they can access this richer milk.  

How do I breastfeed my baby?

See the separate leaflet called Breastfeeding Your Baby.

How do I bottle-feed my baby?

See the separate leaflet called Bottle-feeding Your Baby.

Can I go back to breastfeeding after bottle-feeding?

You can restart breastfeeding for weeks or even months after you have stopped, if you want to do so. It can take a little perseverance, but there are a few things which may help your milk to come back in:

  • Hold your baby as much as possible, skin to skin.
  • Express your breast milk around eight times a day - this releases the hormone prolactin, which stimulates your breasts to make milk. It may be easier to express by hand to begin with, although pumps are also available.
  • If your baby is latching on but you don't yet have much milk, feed little and often, when your baby is relaxed and not too hungry.
  • Decrease the number of bottles gradually, as your milk supply increases.
  • Consider using a lactation aid. This is a tiny tube which is taped next to your nipple and goes to your baby's mouth, so that when your baby suckles on your nipple he or she can get milk via the tube as well as from your breast. This helps keep your baby suckling, giving your breasts the stimulation they need to keep producing milk.

Can I breastfeed if I adopt?

It can be possible to breastfeed even if you have not just had a baby - it is called adoptive nursing. The principle is that repeated stimulation of the nipples triggers milk production. It is more difficult to trigger milk production if you have not been pregnant recently. This is because although the milk production itself is triggered by nipple stimulation, you won't have the high levels of pregnancy hormones that also prepare your body for breastfeeding by enlarging and sensitising the milk-producing apparatus. But it is possible.

It can take considerable perseverance to get a good supply of milk, but a lactational aid (as those described above) can be very helpful in persuading the baby to keep suckling, delivering the stimulation needed to create a milk supply.

How do I wean my baby?

Weaning is the gradual introduction of additional food to your baby, on top of infant formula or breast milk. See the separate leaflet called Baby-led Weaning.

What is the best way to help my baby eat a balanced diet after he or she is fully weaned?

Feeding children over the age of 12 months is both an art and a science. Your aim is to encourage healthy tastes and eating habits, which will set your child up for life.

See the separate leaflet called Feeding Your Toddler.

Feeding Your Newborn (for Parents)

How you feed your newborn is the first nutrition decision you make for your child. These guidelines on breastfeeding and bottle feeding can help you know what's right for you and your baby.

Breast or Bottle?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for about the first 6 months. After they start on solid foods, babies should breastfeed through the first year of life and even beyond, if desired.

But breastfeeding isn't possible or preferable for all new moms. Deciding to breastfeed or bottle feed a baby is usually based on the mother's comfort level with breastfeeding and her lifestyle. In some cases, breastfeeding may not be recommended for a mom and her baby. If you have any questions about whether to breastfeed or formula feed, talk to your pediatrician.

Remember, your baby's nutritional and emotional needs will be met whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your newborn has many benefits. Perhaps most important, breast milk is the perfect food for a baby's digestive system. It has the nutrients that a newborn needs, and it’s easily digested. Commercial formulas try to imitate breast milk, and come close, but can't match it exactly.

Breast milk has

antibodiesthat help protect babies from many infections, including diarrhea and ear and lung infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop medical problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. Breastfeeding also might make a child less likely to become overweight.

Breastfeeding is great for moms too. It burns calories, so can help nursing moms lose the weight gained during pregnancy. Breastfeeding also may offer protection from breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Some moms find breastfeeding easier and quicker than formula feeding — it needs no preparation, and you don't run out of breast milk in the middle of the night. Also, breastfeeding costs little. Nursing mothers do need to eat more and may want to buy nursing bras and pads, a breast pump, or other equipment. But these expenses are generally less than the cost of formula.

Breastfeeding meets a variety of emotional needs for both moms and babies. The skin-to-skin contact can enhance the emotional connection, and providing complete nourishment can help new moms feel confident in their ability to care for their newborn.

Limitations of Breastfeeding

With all the good things known about breastfeeding, why doesn't every mother choose to breastfeed?

Breastfeeding requires a big commitment from a mother. Some new moms feel tied down by the demands of a nursing newborn. Because breast milk is easily digested, breastfed babies tend to eat more often than babies who are fed formula. This means moms can be in demand as often as every 2 or 3 hours in the first few weeks. This can be tiring, but it's not long before babies feed less often and sleep longer at night.

Some new mothers need to get back to work outside the home or separate from their babies from time to time for other reasons. Some opt for formula feeding so other caregivers can give the baby a bottle. Mothers who want to continue breastfeeding can use a breast pump to collect breast milk to be given in a bottle, so their babies still get its benefits even when mom isn't there to breastfeed.

Fathers and other family members may want to share in feeding the baby. When mom is breastfeeding, dad or siblings may want to stay close by. Helping mom get comfortable, or providing a burp cloth when needed, will let them be part of the experience.

When breastfeeding is going well, other family members can help by giving the baby pumped breast milk in a bottle when mom needs a break.

Some moms may feel embarrassed or worried about breastfeeding. These feelings usually end after a successful breastfeeding process is set. It can help to get advice from those who've gone through the experience. Most hospitals and birthing centers offer in-depth instruction on breastfeeding to new moms. Your pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or nurse can answer questions or put you in touch with a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group.

In some cases, a mother's health may affect her ability to breastfeed. Moms getting chemotherapy for cancer and those who have HIV should not breastfeed, for example.

If you have a medical condition or take any medicines regularly, talk with your doctor about whether it's OK to breastfeed. If you have to stop nursing temporarily, continue to pump breast milk to maintain milk production. If you or your baby are sick, continue to breastfeed if you can. Talk to the doctor if you have any concerns.

In some situations, it may not possible to breastfeed, such as when a baby is very sick or born early. Mothers should talk with their baby's doctor about expressing and storing milk. Often, a baby who can't breastfeed can get breast milk through a feeding tube or bottle.

Some moms who have inverted nipples may have trouble breastfeeding, but a lactation consultant usually can help them overcome this. Likewise, women who have had plastic surgery on their breasts should be able to successfully breastfeed. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Hold off on pacifiers or bottles until your baby has gotten used to and is good at breastfeeding. Lactation professionals recommend waiting until a baby is about 3–4 weeks old before offering artificial nipples of any kind (including pacifiers).

Benefits of Formula Feeding

Commercially prepared infant formula is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. Bottle feeding can offer more freedom and flexibility for moms, and make it easier to know how much the baby is getting.

Because babies digest formula more slowly than breast milk, a baby who is getting formula may need fewer feedings than one who breastfeeds. Formula feeding also can make it easier to feed the baby in public, and lets the father and other family members help feed the baby, which can enhance bonding.

Limitations of Formula Feeding

Just as breastfeeding has its unique demands, so does bottle feeding. Bottle feeding takes organization and preparation, especially if you want to take your baby out. Store-bought formula can be pretty expensive, but do not try to make your own formula at home.

It's important to make sure that you have enough formula on hand, and bottles that are clean and ready to be used.

Here are a few guidelines for formula feeding:

  • Carefully follow directions on the label when preparing formula.  Do not add more water than directed.
  • Bottles left out of the refrigerator longer than 1 hour and any formula left in the bottle that a baby doesn't finish should be discarded.
  • Prepared bottles of formula can be stored in the refrigerator up to 24 hours and carefully warmed just before feeding. You don't have to warm formula, but most babies prefer it.
  • A bottle of formula can be warmed by holding it in running warm water or setting it in a pan of warm water. A bottle of formula (or breast milk) should never be warmed in a microwave. The bottle can heat unevenly and leave "hot spots" that can burn a baby's mouth.

How Often Do Newborns Eat?

Your newborn will nurse about 8 to 12 times per day during the first weeks of life. In the beginning, mothers may want to try nursing 10–15 minutes on each breast, then adjust the time as needed.

Breastfeeding should be on demand (when your baby is hungry), which is generally every 1–3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll nurse less often and have longer stretches between feedings. Newborn babies who are getting formula will likely take about 2–3 ounces every 2–4 hours. Newborns should not go more than about 4–5 hours without feeding.

Signs that babies are hungry include:

  • moving their heads from side to side
  • opening their mouths
  • sticking out their tongues
  • placing their hands and fists to their mouths
  • puckering their lips as if to suck
  • nuzzling against their mothers' breasts
  • crying

A feeding schedule is not necessary — you and your baby will get into a routine. Babies know (and will let their parents know) when they're hungry and when they've had enough. Watch for signs that your baby is full (slowing down, spitting out the bottle or unlatching from breast, closing the mouth, turning away from the breast or bottle) and stop the feeding when these signs appear.

As babies grow, they begin to eat more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. There may be other times when your infant seems hungrier than usual. Continue to nurse or feed on demand. Nursing mothers need not worry — breastfeeding stimulates milk production, and your supply of breast milk will adjust to your baby's demand for it.

Is My Newborn Getting Enough to Eat?

New parents often worry about whether their babies are getting enough to eat.

Babies are getting enough to eat if they:

  • seem satisfied
  • have about 6–8 wet diapers a day
  • have regular bowel movements (poops)
  • sleep well
  • are alert when awake
  • are gaining weight

A baby who is fussing, crying, seems hungry, does not appear satisfied after feeding, and has fewer wet diapers may not be getting enough to eat. If you're concerned that your baby isn't getting enough to eat, call your doctor.

Most infants "spit up" a small amount after eating or during burping, but a baby should not vomit after feeding. Vomiting after every feeding might be a sign of an allergy, digestive problem, or other problem that needs medical care. If you have concerns that your baby is spitting up too much, call your doctor.

Should Newborns Get Nutritional Supplements?

Breast milk has the right combination of vitamins and easily absorbed iron for newborns. A healthy infant being nursed by a healthy mother doesn't need extra vitamins or nutritional supplements, with the exception of vitamin D. Breastfed babies should begin vitamin D supplements within the first few days of life, continuing until they get enough vitamin D-fortified formula or milk (after 1 year of age).

Breastfeeding mothers who follow vegetarian diets that do not include animal products need vitamin B12 supplements.

Iron-fortified formula has the right blend of vitamins and minerals for a baby, so supplements usually aren't needed. Infants drinking less than 1 liter, or about a quart, of formula a day may need a vitamin D supplement.

Water, juice, and other foods usually aren't necessary during a baby's first 6 months. Breast milk and formula provide everything babies need nutritionally until they start eating solid foods. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about feeding your newborn.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Date reviewed: February 2021

Various breastfeeding positions

Try different breastfeeding positions to find the one that works best for you and your baby. You can see the options in our selection of photos

Share this information

There is no right or wrong way to hold the baby while
feeding, and mom and baby are sure to find their favorite position.
It is important that both you and your child feel comfortable. nine0011 1.2 It's good to learn a few different breastfeeding positions and techniques because life's circumstances often require us to be flexible, especially as your baby gets older and you start to leave the house more often.

Whatever position you choose to breastfeed your baby, remember a few simple rules.

  • Prepare everything you need before feeding, including drinks, food, mobile phone, TV remote control, book or magazine. And do not forget to go to the toilet - the feeding process can take a long time! nine0018
  • Make sure your baby is comfortable. Whichever position you choose, it's important to keep your baby strong, level, and provide good support for their head, neck, and spine.
  • You should also be comfortable. Don't stress. If necessary, use pillows of different sizes or rolls of towels to support your back or arms.
  • Make sure your baby is latching on correctly. Proper grip is the key to comfort when breastfeeding. nine0018
  • If your baby does not latch on well or you experience pain while feeding, contact a lactation consultant for help. The specialist will also be able to show you how to hold your baby more comfortably.

1. Relaxed feeding or reclining position

The relaxed feeding position, also known as biological feeding, 1 is often the first position for most mothers. If, immediately after birth, the baby is placed on the mother’s chest or stomach, normally, he instinctively reaches for the breast and tries to grab the nipple. This phenomenon is known as the breast seeking reflex. Skin-to-skin contact stimulates the infant's feeding instinct, and gravity helps him to latch onto the breast and maintain balance. nine0003

But it's not just newborns that can be fed in the reclining position - this position is great for babies of all ages. It can be especially helpful if your baby does not latch well in other positions or does not like to be touched during feeding, and also if you have too much milk flow or too large breasts. Isabelle, a mother from the UK, shares her experience: “I had large breasts, and the baby was born small - 2.7 kg, so it was not easy to find a comfortable position at first. After a few weeks, it became clear that there was no “correct” posture for me. As a result, I most often fed lying down, putting the baby on my chest. ” nine0003

It is more convenient to feed not lying flat on your back, but half-sitting, leaning on pillows. So you will have a back support and you will be able to watch the baby during feeding.

2. Cradle position

This is the classic
first thought of breastfeeding. Mom sits straight
, and the baby lies on her side on her arm, pressing his stomach against her stomach. 3 Although this is a very popular position, it is not always easy to master with newborns because it gives the baby less support. Try putting a pillow under your back, and put a special breastfeeding pillow on your knees and lean on it with your hands. So you can more reliably support the child, without overstraining your back and shoulders. Just make sure that the baby does not lie too high on the pillow for feeding. The breast should remain at a natural level so that the baby can grab it without effort, otherwise sore nipples cannot be avoided. nine0003

“I breastfed in the cradle position because it suited me perfectly! It was comfortable and I loved just sitting and looking at my little one,” recalls Rachel, a mother of two from Italy.

3. Cross Cradle

This breastfeeding position looks almost the same as Cradle, but the baby is on the other arm. 3 This gives your baby support around the neck and shoulders so he can tilt his head to latch on. This position is great for breastfeeding newborns and small babies, as well as for babies who do not latch well. Since the baby lies completely on the other hand, it becomes easier to control his position and you can adjust the chest with your free hand. nine0003

Julie, a UK mother of two, finds this position very practical: “I usually breastfeed my youngest in the cross cradle position. So I have a free second hand, and I can take care of an older baby at the same time. ”

Do not hold the baby's head at first, otherwise you may inadvertently press his chin against his chest. Because of this, the child will not be able to take the breast deeply, because the nipple will rest against the base of the tongue, and not against the palate, which will lead to inflammation of the nipples. As the child grows, this position becomes more comfortable, and he can rest his head on your palm (as shown in the photo above). nine0003

4. Underarm breastfeeding

In this position, also known as the “ball grip”, the mother sits with the baby lying along her arm at the side, legs towards the back of the chair (or any other seat). 3 Another comfortable position for newborn breastfeeding, you can give your baby good support, full control of his position and a good view of his face. And the baby feels safe in close contact with the mother's body. This position is especially good for those who have had a caesarean section or a premature birth, as well as mothers of twins and women with large breasts. nine0003

“When I breastfed my first daughter, I had very large K-sized breasts—twice the size of her head,” recalls Amy, an Australian mother of two. - I put rolls of towels under each breast, because they were very heavy, and fed my daughter in a pose from under the arm, but only sitting straighter so as not to crush her. This position was also convenient because I had a caesarean section and could not put the baby on my stomach.

5. Side-lying position

The side-lying position is ideal for a relaxed
nighttime feeding in bed or on the couch. If you had a
caesarean section or ruptures during childbirth, this position may be more comfortable than sitting down. 3 In this position, mother and baby lie side by side, tummy to tummy.

“It was difficult for me to sit during endless night feedings, firstly because of the caesarean section, and secondly because of lack of sleep,” recalls Francesca, a mother from the UK. “And then I discovered that you can feed your baby lying on your side and rest at the same time.” nine0003

“Because of the short tongue frenulum, Maisie could only properly latch on to her breasts while lying on her side. The lactation consultant showed me how it's done. In this position, the flow of milk was optimal for my daughter, and it was easier for her to keep the nipple in her mouth. As she got older, she became much better at grabbing her breasts in normal positions,” says Sarah, mother of two from Australia.

6. Relaxed breastfeeding after caesarean section

If you can't find a comfortable position for breastfeeding after caesarean section, 3 try holding the baby on your shoulder in a reclining position – this does not stress the postoperative suture and allows you to breastfeed your baby comfortably. You can also try side feeding.

7. Sitting upright breastfeeding or “koala pose”

When breastfeeding in an upright position or “koala pose”, the baby sits with a straight back and a raised head on the mother's hip. 4 This position can be tried even with a newborn if it is well supported, but it is especially convenient for feeding a grown child who can already sit up by himself. The upright sitting position, or “koala pose,” is great for toddlers who suffer from reflux or an ear infection and feel better sitting. In addition, this pose may be suitable for children with a shortened frenulum of the tongue or reduced muscle tone. nine0003

“When my daughter got a little older, I would often feed her in an upright position, which was more comfortable for both of us, and I could still hold her close,” recalls Peggy, a mother from Switzerland. “Besides, it was possible to discreetly breastfeed her in public places.”

8. Overhanging position

In this position, the baby lies on his back, and the mother bends over him
on all fours so that the nipple falls directly into his mouth. 4 Some moms say this breastfeeding position is good to use occasionally for mastitis, when touching the breasts is especially unpleasant. Some say that this breastfeeding position helps with blockage of the milk ducts, although there is no scientific evidence for this yet. You can also feed in the “overhanging” position while sitting, kneeling over the baby on a bed or sofa, as well as reclining on your stomach with support on your elbows. Pillows of various sizes that you can lean on will help you avoid back and shoulder strain. nine0003

“I have breastfed several times in the 'overhang' position for clogged milk ducts when no other means of dissolving the blockage worked. And this pose seems to have helped. I think it's because of gravity, and also because the breasts were at a completely different angle than with normal feeding, and my daughter sucked her differently, ”says Ellie, a mother of two from the UK.

Feeding in the "overhanging" position is unlikely to be practiced regularly, but in some cases this position may be useful. nine0003

“I used to breastfeed in the overhang position when my baby was having trouble latch-on,” says Lorna, mother of two in the UK. - This, of course, is not the most convenient way, but then I was ready for anything, if only he could capture the chest. We succeeded and have been breastfeeding for eight months now!”

9. Breastfeeding in a sling or in a sling

Breastfeeding in a sling takes some practice, but it can be used to go out, look after older children, or even do a little household chores. nine0003

The sling is also useful if the baby does not like to lie down or is often attached to the breast. Lindsey, a mother of two in the US, notes: “I used the carrier frequently for both of my children. When we were out, I tied the sarong around my neck and covered the carrier with it. Under such a cape, the baby can eat as much as he wants until he falls asleep.

This breastfeeding position is best when the baby is already good at breastfeeding and can hold his head up by himself. Any slings are suitable for breastfeeding, including elastic and rings, as well as carrying bags. Whatever option you choose, the main thing is that you can always see the face of the child, and his chin does not rest against his chest. nine0003

10. Double hand-held breastfeeding

Double hand-held breastfeeding (or “double-ball grab”) is great for mothers of twins—you can breastfeed both at the same time and keep your arms relatively free. 4 When feeding in this position, it is advisable to use a special pillow for breastfeeding twins, especially at first. It will provide extra support and help keep both babies in the correct position, as well as reduce the burden on the abdomen if you had a caesarean section. In addition, the hands are freer, and if necessary, you can deal with one child without interfering with the second. nine0003

“My twins were born very tiny and had to be fed every two hours at any time of the day or night. Very soon it became clear: if I want to do anything besides feeding, I need to feed them both at the same time, - says Emma, ​​mother of two children from the UK. “I breastfed them two by hand using a breastfeeding pillow.”

Other good positions for breastfeeding twins are two criss-cross cradles, one baby in the cradle and the other close at hand, reclining feeding, or sitting upright (one baby on one side, the other on the other). nine0003

11. Breastfeeding in the "hand-supported" or "dancer's hand" position

muscle tone (which is typical for premature babies, children suffering from various diseases or Down syndrome), try supporting his head and your chest at the same time. 4 Grasp your chest with your palm underneath so that your thumb is on one side and all the others are on the other. Move your hand slightly forward so that your thumb and forefinger form a "U" just in front of your chest. With the other three fingers, continue to support the chest. With your thumb and forefinger, hold the baby's head while feeding so that his chin rests on the part of the palm between them, your thumb gently holds the baby on one cheek, and your index finger on the other. So the baby gets excellent support, and you can control his position and see if he is holding his breast. nine0003


1 Colson SD et al. Optimal positions for the release of primitive neonatal reflexes stimulating breastfeeding. Early Hum Dev . 2008;84(7):441-449. - Colson S.D. et al., "Optimal Positions for Provoking Primitive Innate Reflexes to Induce Breastfeeding." Early Hume Dev. 2008;84(7):441-449.

2 UNICEF UK BFHI [ Internet ]. Off to the best start ; 2015 [ cited 2018 Feb ]. - UNICEF UK, Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, Start the Best You Can [Internet]. 2015 [cited February 2018].

3 Cadwell K. Latching - On and Suckling of the Healthy Term Neonate: Breastfeeding Assessment. J Midwifery & Women's Health. nine0133 2007;52(6):638-642. — Cadwell, K., "Latching and sucking in healthy newborns: evaluation of breastfeeding." F Midwifery Women Health. 2007;52(6):638-642.

4 Wambach K, Riordan J, editors. Breastfeeding and human lactation. Jones & Bartlett Learning ; 2014. 966 p . - Wambach K., Riordan J., "Breastfeeding and female lactation". Burlington, MA: Publishing House Jones & Bartlett Learning ; 2014. Pp. 966.

Breastfeeding rules

Breastfeeding rules and techniques.

Every woman can breastfeed her baby.

All troubles arise from ignorance of the rules and techniques of feeding.

The first rule is very important - early contact of the mother with the child in the maternity hospital, in the first minutes after birth. nine0003

Psychological benefits of breastfeeding.

Breast milk has a positive effect on the formation of the emotional and intellectual sphere, the development of creative abilities.

  • emotional connection from both mother and child:
  • close, loving relationship between mother and child;
  • - emotional satisfaction of mother and child;
  • - the child cries less, positive emotions are formed; nine0018
  • - the mother becomes more affectionate, attachment to the child appears, self-confidence; : - less likely that the child will be abandoned or offended; breast milk also protects against the occurrence of neuroses.
  • Development: the child shows the best results of intellectual development and creative abilities at an older age.

Equally important is the correct placement of the baby to the breast, as this is a powerful stimulus to ensure the right amount of milk - galactopoiesis. nine0003

  1. The position of the mother during feeding should be comfortable. It is better to feed the baby either from a lying or sitting position.
  2. Take the chest in the palm of your hand with 4 fingers from below and 1 from above.
  3. Touch the nipple to the baby's lips so that he opens his mouth.
  4. The baby should capture not only the nipple, but also the halo.
  5. If the mother felt pain in her chest while feeding the baby, this means that the baby did not take the breast correctly. In this case, it is necessary to carefully touch the child's lips with a finger so that he opens his mouth, and not pull it by force. Try to apply to the chest again. nine0018
  6. Feed the baby on demand. In the first days up to 10-14 times a day. After the formation of lactation (after approximately 2-3 weeks), the regimen is established independently and is 6-7 feedings per day.

7, No nightly feeding breaks are recommended.

  1. Frequent feeding, including night feeding, contributes to the development of the prolactin and oxytocin reflex.

Produced BEFORE and DURING feeding causes milk to EXTRACT

Sensory suction impulses

  • Promotes uterine contractions
  1. No additional food other than breast milk should be given to a child under 3-4 months of age.
  2. It must be remembered that during the day the baby sucks out different amounts of milk.
  3. Negative emotions block the oxytocin reflex, spasm occurs and milk is poorly excreted.
  4. The positive psychological attitude of the mother, the desire to breastfeed her child and the belief that breast milk is the best food for children are important. nine0018
  5. It is important to observe the rules of personal hygiene (clean linen, hands, mother's chest).
  6. The duration of feeding is currently not limited.

Among the most important factors in the formation of full lactation in the early days are:

  • Skin to skin contact;
  • Early breastfeeding;
  • Joint stay of mother and child in a maternity hospital;
  • Feeding the baby "on demand"; nine0018
  • Application to both mammary glands;
  • Exclusion of pre-lactation feeding and supplementation; • Exclusion of devices imitating mother's breasts (nipples, pacifiers).

There are certain rules to follow with an infant:

- There should not be a joint sleep with an infant !!!
- forbid yourself to take a baby to bed !!!!!!!

- the baby does not belong in a bed with other family members, also do not put him to sleep with each other, in order to avoid harm in a dream; nine0003

- do not overheat the baby, there is no need to wrap him in a large amount of clothes;

- no need to swaddle the baby tightly. He should be able to change the position of the head and body in case of lack of air;

- the surface of the bed should be pretty flat, without extra pillows, duvets, blankets. These items can accidentally cut off the oxygen supply to the baby. But even under the weight of your body, it should not fall through, otherwise there is a high probability that the child will get there on his face and strangulation may occur; nine0003

- there is no need to put the child to sleep between yourself and the back of the sofa, even if it is soft, so that he is not sandwiched between the fabric and the body of an adult;

- consider measures that will protect your baby from an unexpected fall from your bed.

Feeding technique Bottle feeding

Feeding technique Bottle feeding is not really difficult. However, there are a few feeding rules you should remember to avoid baby tears, food spills, and other problems. nine0003

The position taken by the feeder should resemble the natural position of the mother when breastfeeding:

- The baby's head should lie on the left hand.

- The nipple that enters the baby's mouth must always be full of milk or formula - otherwise the baby will swallow air which can cause colic.

- The appearance of bubbles in the bottle means that the child is eating incorrectly and you need to help him, change the position, tilt the bottle in a different way. nine0003

- Do not leave a child alone with a bottle and do not let the baby sleep with a bottle in his mouth - in both cases this can lead to choking.

- It is best to feed your baby when he is in your arms - babies feel most secure in their parents' arms.

- Remember that the baby's head should always be slightly higher than his torso.

- Make sure that the baby does not tilt the head too far back or forward - if the head is in the wrong position, it becomes more difficult for the baby to eat, the wrong head position can also cause food to enter the respiratory tract. nine0003

- When a baby eats from a bottle, he swallows air with nutrition, so he may feel full, despite the fact that he ate little.

- During feeding, breaks should be taken every 5 minutes so that the child has the opportunity to burp.

- After he has let out air and some food, he will feel hungry again.

- In order for the baby to burp, you need to change his position: put the baby's head on your shoulder and support his back with your hands. nine0003

- The child must be in an upright or semi-upright position. If the baby does not burp between feedings, the accumulated air will lead to the formation of painful gases.

- The sitting position is the most classic feeding position.

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