Advice and Guidance on Feeding your baby
The following applies to all parents, however you choose to feed your baby.
Keeping mum and baby together
Wherever possible it is important for mother and baby to be kept together in hospital after birth as this allows mothers to recognise feeding cues, get to know her baby and their needs and for baby to recognise his/her mother. During the first hours after birth, it is ideal for mum and baby to be able to rest and bond in the skin to skin contact.
Skin to skin contact
Skin to skin contact with your baby, wherever possible, and for as long as possible after birth helps to:
- Maintain the baby’s temperature
- Calm and soothe both baby and mother
- Get breastfeeding off to a good start
- Calm and soothe a crying baby and relax mums at any time
Skin to skin triggers natural hormonal responses which help contribute to calming and settling baby and put the start of this precious new relationship on a good footing. If you have to have medical intervention during or straight after birth, don’t worry, you can catch up the skin to skin time as soon as you are able, and in the meantime, dad is the next best person. It’s a great opportunity for dads and partners to encourage their close bonds with the baby.
This is a relaxed and laid back approach to spending quality time with your baby while feeding. There is no right or wrong way, you simply sit back and allow mother and baby to find a comfortable position to feed. This also allows your baby to follow natural instinctive behaviour which makes initiating breastfeeding easier.
This was previously referred to as ‘demand’ or ‘baby-led’ feeding and applies to both breastfeeding and formula-feeding mothers and babies. This is holding your baby close and letting mother and baby feed in response to their needs, e.g. when the baby shows signs of hunger or needs to be comforted if the mother needs to feed or simply wants a rest.
Responsive bottle feeding is about trying to give your baby the same experience as a breastfed baby. This includes cuddling them close to you and ‘pacing’ feeds by allowing breaks and not rushing. Follow your baby’s signals that they are full, never try to push them into finishing every bottle just because that’s ‘how much they usually have’ or you are hoping they will ‘go for longer’ between feeds. The natural way for a young baby to want to be fed is little and often. It is also recommended that bottle-fed babies are fed only by their main carers in the early days.