Feeding: Breast or Bottle?
While it’s important for mothers to at least try to breastfeed – seeing that it’s the most natural and healthy option – there’s no shame or failure in not being able to produce enough milk or even choosing not to breastfeed. Formula-fed babies will receive vital nutrients to develop and grow on par with his breast-fed peers, so let’s leave the judgment and guilt right here.
There are some general similarities between the two options:
- Feed skin to skin whenever you can. Not only does close physical contact benefit your newborn’s development, but feeding time creates a deep emotional bond, whether it’s coming from a breast or a bottle, a man or a woman. Being skin to skin is an intimate way to connect with your child.
- Let the baby call the shots. Sure they were only born the other day, but don’t underestimate your baby’s internal signals. Unless he or she is consistently refusing to eat, a newborn doesn’t need much milk to thrive.
- Allow them to linger. Just because your baby isn’t actively eating doesn’t mean he or she is ready to leave the table. Suckling on a breast or bottle (which is when babies take a momentary break and briefly disengage their latch) is comforting for them, especially when it’s in your arms. If they start to fall asleep, try to wake them up by talking or even undressing them. Not only is it a bad habit for babies to use breastfeeding to lull themselves to sleep, but they will wake up more frequently to finish those interrupted feedings.
- Burp them. Although breastfed babies don’t need to burp as much as those fed formula, still attempt to burp between breasts and after the feeding. Every baby has a particular burping preference, so try it with the baby:
• Over your shoulder
• Lying belly down across your lap
• Sitting in your lap while supporting his or her chin
Time your feedings. Start writing every feeding down to track schedule. Most babies will need to eat every two to three hours, with usually one longer four-hour stretch. Babies shouldn’t sleep for more than five hours without eating. (Breastfeeding Guide)
Note the average feeding time on each side (per weight / age):
- Record the length of nursing on each breast from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next. So in reality, “eating every two hours” means that if one session lasts 45 minutes, the next session will start in an hour and 15 minutes.
- Some women use safety pins on their bras to indicate which breast was fed last, but for modern mamas there are handy iPhone apps to help.