Schedule And How To: Feeding A Baby

How to breastfeed, bottle feed, and spoon feed your baby.

The most nutritious way to feed a baby is to breastfeed. Breastfeeding can begin as soon as your baby is born, as long as you are physically able to do so. You will want to try to be in a relaxed environment if possible when you are ready to begin breastfeeding. Position yourself so that you are sitting comfortably with your back well supported. You will want to make sure that your baby is in a comfortable position as well to help ensure a proper latch on. There are many different positions to choose from when breastfeeding your baby, so trying them all during your baby's first couple days of life will allow you to pick the position or positions that work best for you and your baby.

The football hold position is when you support your baby's head in your hand, allowing your baby's bottom to settle in the crook of your elbow and tucking your baby's feet up under your arm and behind you. If you choose to breastfeed lying down you will want to use the side-lying position. For the side-lying position you will want to be lying on your side with your baby lying parallel to you, making sure that your baby's tummy is touching yours. Support your baby's back and head with your hand and forearm so your baby is able to nurse comfortably. Try not to use the side-lying position too often because it has been linked to ear infections in small babies. The cradle and cross cradle positions are probably the two most used positions for breast feeding a baby. The cradle position is when you place your baby's head in the crook of your arm supporting your baby's back with your forearm and hand; you will breastfeed on the same side as the arm used to support your baby. The cross cradle position is when you support your baby with the arm opposite the breast that you are feeding from; place your baby's head in your hand supporting your baby's back and bottom with your forearm. No matter which position you choose to use place a pillow or thick blanket on your lap to help you support your baby and prevent any unnecessary stress on your back. You can also place a pillow behind your back as well for extra comfort.

Once you have gotten yourself and your baby into a comfortable nursing position expose your breast and help your baby to latch onto the nipple. To help your baby latch onto your nipple correctly make sure that your baby's head, chest and tummy are facing inward towards your breast. Encourage your baby to open its mouth up wide by stroking the baby's cheek, and then quickly guide your baby's mouth to your nipple. Once your baby's mouth is around your nipple your baby's tongue should be between his bottom lip and your breast, and your baby's mouth should cover most if not all of your areola. Your baby's nose, cheeks, and chin should be touching your breast as well. To encourage your baby to start suckling gently stroke your baby's cheek, jaw line, or upper lip. Once you see your baby swallow you can rest assured that your baby is nursing properly.

Allow your baby to nurse for at least five minutes before switching to the other breast; continue to allow your baby to nurse from each breast for equal amounts of time until your baby is full or falls asleep. You will want to gently burp your baby in-between each breast to help eliminate gas build up in your baby"˜s tummy. To burp your baby you will want to hold your baby in an upright position with your baby's head on your shoulder then gently pat and rub your baby's back until your baby burps or until you feel quite sure that your baby is not going to burp--this should take no more then five minutes.

There are certain moms and babies who are just not able to breastfeed; in this case bottle feeding is the best solution. Before using a bottle always make sure you sterilize it in boiling water. Sterilizing the bottle will help prevent your baby from ingesting any germs that may be on the bottle. Some mothers who bottle feed still choose to use their own breast milk instead of formula. If this is the feeding choice that you have chosen to use for your baby then you might want to buy or rent a breast pump to help you express your breast milk. You can however express your breast milk by hand if you choose to do so by gently massaging and squeezing your breast in a downward motion.

If you do choose to use formula make sure you follow the manufacturer's directions for preparing the formula and never feed your baby formula that has been left sitting out for more than one hour. When feeding your baby a bottle use the cradle or cross cradle position and have as much skin to skin contact with your baby as possible as this can help strengthen the bond between you and your baby. Hold your baby's bottle at an angle, making sure that the nipple is completely full of milk or formula to help prevent any unnecessary gas build up. Give your baby a short break about halfway through the feeding in order to burp your baby and switch the arm that you are holding your baby in. Switching your baby's position will allow your baby to see you from a different angle and promotes brain stimulation. Once your baby has finished eating gently burp your baby again.

When your baby is about six months old you will want to start spoon feeding your baby. You will want to start spoon feeding using very watered down baby cereal and stage one baby foods such as pureed carrots or sweet potatoes. Set your baby upright in a high chair making sure that your baby is securely strapped in and is fully able to support his or her own head. Once your baby is secure take a small amount of baby food onto the tip of the spoon and guide it towards your baby's mouth. If your baby needs encouragement to open his mouth wide try making silly faces and noises in order to make your baby smile. Once your baby's mouth is open gently insert the spoon into your baby's mouth then remove the spoon from your baby's mouth once the food has been removed from the spoon. If your baby spits out or drools out all of the baby food after several attempts to spoon feed then you might want to consider waiting a few more weeks to start spoon feeding.

You are also able to introduce a spill proof cup at the age of six months, by doing this you will be able to wean your baby from the bottle much easier. After your baby has been able to tolerate the pureed baby foods for about two months you can gradually start feeding your baby thicker textures. Allowing your baby to hold a spoon and help you feed him or her is a very good idea because it will encourage your baby to self feed. A regular cup can also be introduced at this time with parental supervision. Once your baby is about nine months old you can introduce soft finger foods and slowly working up to a toddler type diet.

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