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Feeding an Infant: Do's and don'ts

Remember that feeding time with your newborn should be a time for you and your baby to be close, both physically and emotionally. Holding your baby close, making eye contact and talking or singing to her when you are cradling her all help to increase her feelings of security and attachment.

Below are several do's and don'ts that will help make feeding time a close time between you and your baby.

  • DON'T feed in a place where it is noisy and chaotic. Use quiet rooms for feedings, and turn off or down phones, televisions and radios. If there are other children around, try to redirect them to a quiet activity during your baby's feedings.

  • DO get comfortable. Find a comfortable position to feed your baby. Before starting a feeding, make sure you are comfortable and have adequate support for your back and under your baby. Feeding time should be a time for you to relax and feel close to your baby.

  • DO go skin-to-skin whenever possible. There is a special feeling babies get when they make skin-to-skin contact. When feeding in private, this can increase your baby's feeling of warmth.

  • DO switch arms. This gives your baby a chance to see things from a different perspective, and also gives your arms a break. This should usually be done mid-feeding.

  • DO take your time. Don't rush. Breastfed babies will often suckle even after the breast is empty. This comforts them and satisfies their craving to suck. Bottle-fed babies can't do this with an empty bottle. However, the closeness of feeding times can be extended by singing and socializing with your baby after her bottle is finished.

  • DON'T interrupt a feeding. Your baby will have to concentrate at the beginning, and will do better with fewer distractions or interruptions. This may mean restricting visitors or visiting times.

  • DO let your baby call it quits. A healthy baby knows when to stop feeding. If your baby drinks less during a feeding, try offering once more after his refusal, but don't push.

If you are bottle-feeding, here are some additional ways to maximize feeding time with your baby.

  • DO be consistent when you start to bottle-feed. Every adult will offer a unique feeding experience to a baby. To establish good feeding, a limited number of people (most likely mom and dad) should initially do most of the feedings. Once feeding is well on its way, other adults or family members may join in.

  • DON'T prop the bottle. All babies, but especially newborns, need the emotional fulfillment that comes from cuddling during a feeding. Holding your baby also leads to a more satisfied baby, since propping the bottle can result in poor positioning, which may mean that your baby does not get as much to eat. There is also a danger of choking if the bottle is propped.

  • DON'T put your baby to bed with a bottle. In addition to the risk of choking, and your baby missing out on the closeness of a feeding, there is a greater chance of your baby developing early childhood tooth decay.

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