Your first step is to decide whether to breast or bottle feed, which you’ll probably settle prior to delivery. In general, breast feeding is the most nutritious, economical and ecological way to feed your infant. However, there are many factors that influence your feeding decision, and breast feeding is not right for everyone. The feeding experience should be an enjoyable one for both the baby and mother. If you have questions concerning this decision feel free to ask us.
We recommend a semi-demand feeding schedule. A rigid schedule of every three hours may not suit your baby. Breast babies should be fed every 1.5 to 2.5 hours during the day, at least until your milk is in and the baby is gaining weight. Bottle fed babies do well with every two and a half to three and a half hours. If your baby is growing well and tends to sleep longer between nighttime feedings, leave well enough alone.
If you plan to breast feed your infant, the following instructions may be of help to you. You will have very little milk supply until the baby is three or four days old. Frequent, short feedings are better than infrequent, lengthy feedings. Gradually increase the amount of time until you reach a maximum of fifteen minutes on each breast.
You should be in a comfortable position with your back and arms supported. A nursing pillow on your lap serves as a convenient platform for the baby. Your baby should be in a semi-upright position so his head is higher than his stomach. With one arm, hold the baby so his face is close to the breast. With the other hand, hold the breast between your index and middle fingers so it is easy for the baby to reach the nipple without it covering his nose. Bend your arm to form a cradle so the baby’s head is always supported, making it easy for him to reach the breast. Touch the side of his face closest to his mouth to the breast. He will turn his head and begin nursing.
Once your milk is well established, be sure your first breast is completely emptied before changing sides (approximately fifteen minutes). At the next feeding, start with the breast that was not completely emptied at the previous feeding. Your milk supply is stimulated by demand. A completely emptied breast will increase production for the next feed. At times, the baby may get slightly less than she would like, but your milk production will quickly increase to supply her needs. After feeding, let your nipples air dry. If they are tender or cracked, apply lanolin cream. It is not necessary to clean off the cream before feeding again.
After the second week you may give your baby one bottle of formula or breast milk each day if you so desire. If you wait too long to introduce the bottle, (over a month), babies are often very resistant. Evening, when Dad is available, is a good time to try this -– an excellent bonding opportunity!
For successful breast feeding, it is essential to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluid and eat a balanced diet. Any food, including chocolate, may be eaten in moderation. Mothers should continue their prenatal vitamins while breast feeding. You may call our office with your breast feeding questions.
Start with cow milk based, iron fortified formula. Many store and name brands are available. DHA-ARA supplemented formulas may be helpful for some babies. Formula can be purchased in powdered, liquid concentrate and ready-to-use varieties. Premixed ready to use formula is, as the name implies, easiest. Powder is cheaper, easier to carry (weighs less) and requires no refrigeration. Liquid concentrate has no significant advantage. Prepare powdered formula with tap water. It is the cheapest, easiest and safest way. Sterilizing water for formula is necessary only if it is untreated, such as well water.
Many varieties of bottle are available, and most infants are not too finicky. Avoid the temptation to accumulate a war chest of a single type of bottle before the baby arrives. If your baby can’t/won’t use that variety, your collection will be rendered useless.
Babies generally prefer lukewarm (body temperature) formula. Avoid warming bottles in the microwave as hot spots in the formula may cause serious burns in your baby’s mouth and throat.
For the first two days of life, your baby won’t be interested in eating large quantities. One half ounce will suffice at first. Gradually, appetite will increase to 2 oz. each feeding. The exact amount may vary from baby to baby and from feed to feed. Babies are very good at taking as much as they need as long as we offer them enough but don’t push. The best way to insure that the baby is getting enough is to allow for a little extra milk to be left in each bottle. When your baby is emptying the bottle each time, it is time to increase the amount of formula offered.
Your baby will get enough fluid in formula. Additional water is not necessary even during hot weather.
Washing bottles and nipples in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher is more than adequate. Boiling bottles and nipples is not necessary except during treatment for thrush.
All babies swallow air while feeding and may be burped once or twice during the feed and again when complete. To burp your baby, hold him upright over your shoulder and pat his back gently. If the burp doesn’t come up easily, it sometimes helps to put him on his back for a few seconds and then bring him back up to your shoulder. You can also try placing your baby in an upright sitting position, supporting his chest, neck and head. Some babies do not burp easily. This should not arouse concern.