Important aspects of baby feeding

When to wean baby away from the breast?

Some mothers decide to return to work soon after the birth at three or four months. Others breast-feed for a year or more.

To wean, begin by substituting feeding by bottle or cup for one breastfeed, depending on baby’s willingness to accept a new method, gradually decrease the number of breastfeeds.

Try tinned baby milk or fruit juice before the breastfeed. Some mothers find that introducing a small amount of solid before the breastfeed helps.

Breast feeding basics

You can still offer the breast for a short time after the solid, if baby seems to need comforting, but don’t breastfeed long enough to stimulate the milk supply. Reducing feeds will help the milk supply dry up. A nursing mother should limit the fluid she drinks for two or three days.

If baby refuses to take the bottle from her mother it can help if father or grandmother gives the bottle for a few feeds.

Where a woman has to wean while still in hospital after the birth, a tight binder around the breasts may help. Some doctors order medication to help dry up the milk.


Bottle feeding basics

Feeding time provides an ideal opportunity to create a loving mother-baby bond.

Basic equipment for bottle-feeding: three to four bottles, nipples, cups or covers (enough for one day’s feeds). Larger bottles with wide necks are easier to clean.

A can opener, 20 ml table spoon, a 5 ml teaspoon for measuring (or scoops which come with formula), a bottle brush, a measuring jug marked in milliliters, funnel, kitchen tongs to pick up bottles after sterilizing, saucepan for sterilizing equipment, fine wire strainer, a plastic container with a lid big enough to submerge equipment to be sterilized in sterilizing solution.

Make sure there are no air bubbles to interfere with sterilizing. Boil bottles in a large saucepan ten minutes for equipment other than nipples which need only two minutes. If you prefer boiling, start with cold water and boil for ten minutes. Don’t pour cold water into a hot glass bottle to cool it or put in cooled milk. The difference in temperature will make the glass bottle crack.

It takes one hour to sterilize in sterilizing solution. Drain equipment after sterilizing. Use the fluid for twenty four hours, drain and replace.

After feeds, rinse equipment in cold water and then wash in hot water and detergent with a bottle brush. If nipples are slimy, turn inside out and rub with salt and rinse thoroughly.

Cows’ milk, unless modified, is not suitable for babies because it contains more protein, fat and mineral salts and less sugar than human milk.

Giving a baby extra milk or forcing him to finish a bottle when he has had enough can make him cry with pain and discomfort. If you think he’s thirsty, try giving cooled boiled water between feeds.

Important hygiene for baby feeding

Before preparing baby’s feeds, wash your hands. Utensils used to prepare feeds should be separate and sterile.

Measure ingredients accurately. Boil the water and let it cool to skin temperature before adding milk powder by scoop. Leveling with a knife, stir mixture with a sterile spoon, then check the amount at eye level. You can make enough for twenty-four hours and refrigerate in a sterilized jug or bottles. Cool by standing bottle in cold water before refrigerating.

If you are making up a day’s supply, make sure the refrigerated bottles are covered with sterile caps and the nipples are kept in a separate sterile container in the refrigerator.

Throw out any formula left after a feed because leftover milk provides a breeding ground for germs.

Before feeding baby, test flow and temperature of a few drops of milk on the inside of your wrist; it should be just warm.

Don’t drop the bottle on anything and expect baby to feed himself. This is dangerous – he could choke.

Hold the bottle firmly so that baby can pull against it; the suction stops the bottle moving about. Ensure the nipple is full of milk so that baby doesn’t suck air.

Mothers who bottle-feed sometimes worry that the close mother-child relationship is not taking place. Bottle-fed babies have the same need for warmth, comfort and security as do breastfed babies.

A mother who bottle-feeds can establish this close physical contact with her baby by talking to baby softly, cuddling him, encouraging him to touch her. She can undo her blouse and hold baby close so he has some skin contact and encourage eye contact.

Secrets of the Burp

Although some doctors say that there’s no such thing as wind, most mothers feel that the baby is more comfortable if they “wind” (“burp”) him. Hold baby upright against your shoulder or sit him upright rather than lying him flat. Rub or pat his back gently; this releases any air in the stomach. Wind him when he finishes one breast and again at the end of the feed. Don’t bounce him around too much or he may bring up his feed all over you. Crying a lot can fill his tummy with wind as well.

Don’t worry if he doesn’t burp; there may not be much air in him. If he does have wind and hasn’t brought it up, he may cry with pain after you’ve put him down. Try to wind him again.

Most babies bring up a little milk curdled or otherwise during or after feeds, so don’t worry unless he vomits often and copiously.

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