Whether you are breast, bottle or mixed feeding, the most important thing to ensure is that your baby is being well fed and that the technique you use suits your family’s needs.
Mothercraft Nurse Chris Minogue shares with us her top tips for ensuring that your baby has been fed well. Here are a few common techniques to help you better understand the options available and what may work best for you and your baby.
There are many amazing benefits to breastfeeding, especially in the first 6 months of your little one’s life. It is important to note that no 2 babies are the same and each experience will be different. If your baby is putting on weight and sleeping well, this is a good indication that they are getting what they need.
To establish a good feeding pattern and help ensure your little one is getting a ‘full feed’, we suggest feeding from one side first until it has completely softened (emptied), before offering your baby the second side.
As your baby gets older, the feeds will become shorter as they become much more efficient. Be sure to keep in mind the technique for giving your baby a ‘full feed’ in order to avoid ‘snacking’ and keep up a consistent feeding pattern.
Whilst breastfeeding, remember to also look after yourself. Breastfeeding can be tiring as your body works hard to produce milk packed with nutrients for your baby. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water – both during the day and throughout the feed.
In the beginning, the time between the first feed and the next can be as short as 3 hours. As time goes on, feeding will lengthen and your baby will form a rhythmic pattern based on their age.
Your baby’s milk amounts will vary with age and be dependent on the frequency of feeds throughout the day (i.e. a baby feeding more frequently will require a different amount to a baby that is feeding less frequently). Seek advice if you are unsure of the quantity your baby should be taking.
Teat sizes will change as your baby grows. A newborn will start off with a slow flow teat, which will increase in size as they develop. This is usually based on age and listed on the packaging of the bottle you choose – so be sure to note when it may be time to transition from one teat size to the next.
Many people say formula-fed babies sleep better. This is not necessarily the case but may speak to the fact that formula generally takes longer to digest. Your baby’s sleep pattern will mature at the rate of their age, not by the amount that they take in their bottle.
Mixed feeding is an option for when your baby may require a ‘top-up’ in the form of expressed milk or formula due to low supply, or if the baby is not putting on enough weight.
In an older baby, mixed feeding can be the result of a mother returning to work, where she may breastfeed in the morning and evening, but offer a bottle during the day. This can be either expressed milk or formula.
Taking the time to understand how to feed your baby well means you will gain the confidence you need to navigate through their early developmental needs. A well fed baby encourages restful sleep, forms a routine that will continue into their toddler years and gives them the energy to grow.
It is important to note that if your method of choice is not working at any stage, don’t be disheartened as there are many options available. Be sure to reach out to a support service near you – your Early Childhood Centre, your midwife, a Lactation Consultant or the Breastfeeding Helpline – if you are having difficulty.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association National Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268)