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Methods of Feeding
Experts agree that breast feeding is best for both the mother and the baby. The reasons for this recommendations are as follows:
- Breast milk is the ideal food for babies, containing all the nutrients they need for the first 4 to 6 months. It is easily digested and the baby's body is better able to use the iron in breast milk than from other sources. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that breast milk is the best food for infants throughout the first year of life.
- Breast milk contains substances that help protect babies against illness. Breast milk also seems to delay the onset of food allergies.
- Nursing gives the mother a chance to show her special love and provides her with much emotional satisfaction.
- Nursing is convenient as it is not necessary to shop for formula and prepare bottles.
- Breast feeding helps the uterus get back to its normal size. Hormones are released during breastfeeding that contract the muscles of the uterus making it smaller and firmer.
Until your breast supply is well established avoid formula supplements. If your milk supply seems inadequate or you suspect your baby is not gaining weight, notify the office. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether the baby is getting enough breast milk. One indication of inadequate intake is the lack of bowel movements. Once your breast milk has come in and your supply is adequate, the baby should have several loose yellow stools a day. Some infants have a gastrocolic reflex and will stool with every feeding.
A variety of fine formulations are available. These are packaged as powder, liquid, concentrate and Ready To Feed. Two general types of bottles are available: solid glass or hard plastic with or without disposable sterile bag units.
Prepare only a 24 hour supply of formula. Keep it refrigerated. At feeding time, warm formula to body temperature by placing the bottle upright in a pan of hot tap water. Shake or squirt a few drops of formula on the back of your hand to test the temperature before offering it to the baby. DO NOT microwave your baby's bottle. This can be dangerous due to uneven heating, as well as the denaturing of the milk protein by the microwave heating process.
Feeding Schedule for Both Breast and Bottle Feeding
Extremes of rigidity or laxity are best avoided when setting a schedule for feeding. However, since most infants are comfortable on a 3 or 4 hour schedule, this should be your target. To insure the best possible night of sleep and some freedom during the day we suggest:
- Try hard for the suggested 3 or 4 hour schedule during awake hours.
- Don't let your baby sleep past his 4 hour feeding time during your awake hours.
- Always offer a feeding just before you retire for the night.
- Do not awaken your baby after you have retired at night. He/she will call you.
- If necessary, especially during the first few weeks, arouse the baby into activity at feeding time by briskly rubbing the soles of feet with your thumb.
- Crying does not always signify hunger. An upset infant will often take a few swallows of milk. Unless he takes several ounces he/she may not be crying from hunger.
- Frequently babies may initially eat every two hours, especially breast-fed babies.