Breast or Bottle Feeding? Enhance Your Feeding Journey

Whether you’re thinking about breastfeeding or opting for bottle feeding with infant formula, the best choice is the one that works well for both you and your baby. Here’s a detailed look at both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

Breastfeeding: A Natural Source of Nutrition

Breastfeeding shines as the optimal nutrition source for your baby, especially during the first six months. Your breast milk uniquely caters to your baby’s nutritional needs. The benefits of breastfeeding include::

  • Until six months, it naturally protects your baby from allergies later in your baby’s life
  • Your breast milk is always ready at the perfect temperature and is easily digested
  • It’s gentle on your baby’s digestive system, rarely causing issues like constipation or diarrhea.
  • It’s a cost-effective solution with immune-boosting antibodies.
  • It perfectly meets your baby’s nutritional needs

Tips for Effective Breastfeeding

  1. Feed your baby in a quiet, calm environment
  2. Take an extra minute or two to get yourself organised before feeding your baby
  3. Find the most comfortable position in which to feed
  4. Make sure that your baby is latched onto the breast correctly, with both top and bottom lip in a snug seal around your nipple
  5. Carefully break the latch after feeding – to release the suction on your beast so that you can take your nipple out of his mouth, insert your finger into the corner of his mouth and gently withdraw your nipple from his mouth.
  6. Limit feedings to around 40 minutes.
  7. Breastfed babies often need a minute or two in between sucks to catch their breath.
  8. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis – understand that more breastfeeding leads to more milk production.

If breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to you, and you are starting to feel rather desperate, remember that it takes up to six weeks to establish a feeding routine and corresponding milk supply. However, if your struggle with breastfeeding starts to affect your mood and bonding with your baby or relationship with your partner, stress you out or cause depression, it may be time to reconsider your options.

Formula Feeding: Hitting the Right Formula

If you have made the decision to start feeding your baby formula, or have been forced to do so because of medication you are taking or a return to work, rest assured that with today’s wide choice of milk formulas… you can ensure that your baby will be well fed.

Today’s Infant formulas are highly advanced and available as hypo-allergenic, lactose-free, cow’s milk protein-free, anti-reflux, soya bean protein feeds and pre-acidified – among others! Ask your pediatrician or clinic sister to help you choose.

The right formula

Follow these guides for successful bottle feeding.

  1. Don’t give cow’s milk to children under one year old. It contains too little iron and the Vitamins A, C and D. It’s also difficult to digest and too high in sodium.
  2. It may take a few formula changes before you find the one that is best for your baby. Try a new formula for at least 48 hours before changing to another.
  3. If your family has a strong history of allergies, take this into consideration when choosing a formula.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s preparation instructions perfectly. Sterilise all your bottles and teats.
  5. When bottle feeding, hold your baby close to you as though breastfeeding. This will facilitate skin-to-skin contact and allow her to feel your face and neck.
  6. Allow a maximum of 40 minutes per feed.
  7. If you can hear your baby gulping the formula, she’s probably drinking too fast, and this could cause cramps and wind. Adjust the flow by changing the teat or adjusting the bottle angle

The right amount of formula

The book Baby Sense, advocates the following calculation:

150ml milk per kilogram of the baby’s body weight, divided by the number of feeds you are giving in 24 hours. So if your baby weighs 5kg, and you feed him six times in 24 hours:

5 x 150 = 750ml / 6 = 125ml per feed.

This is a guideline only. Some really hungry babies demand 200ml per kilogram of their body weight, while others may do well on 120ml per kilogram of body weight. If he… still looks hungry… try an extra 25ml… and see how he reacts.”

Your baby will experience growth spurts at around two weeks, six to eight weeks, and 12 to 14 weeks. These spurts will last for 24 to 48 hours, during which time they’ll be grumpy and restless and feed more often. Once you’ve ruled out other factors, feed your little one more and know that it will soon pass.

Creating a Calm Feeding Environment

Feeding time can also be a serene and sensory-rich moment for you and your baby. You can meet your baby’s needs and avoid unnecessary fussing and crying by getting in tune with your baby’s senses.

From the moment you lift your baby into your arms and throughout the feed, each one of his senses will be stimulated.

TOUCHYour touch
HEARINGYour voice and heartbeat
SIGHTSeeing and focusing on your face and what is around him
MOVEMENTBeing lifted into the feeding position
SMELLThe smell of your milk and ‘mother space’
TASTEWhether the milk is sweet or sour, hot or cold
INTEROCEPTIONThe inner sensations of hunger, satiety and gas.”

Follow these sensory guidelines to make feeding time a soothing sensory experience for both of you.

  1. Keep your baby’s sensory environment the same at each feeding time
  2. Be cautious with any extra sensory input, like talking or touching. She needs to keep all her attention on sucking, swallowing and breathing
  3. As you alternate breasts when breastfeeding, alternate sides when bottle feeding. This ensures she gets equal sensory input on both sides of her body
  4. Keep your voice soothing and keep anxiety at bay when feeding
  5. “Don’t wear perfume for the first months of your baby’s life,” as it could overstimulate him when you are feeding
  6. Watch how your baby reacts to the taste of your milk. Garlic can change the taste of your milk, so cut that out, or she may not like the taste of the formula you’re using
  7. If there’s too much stimulation at feeding time, your baby could react by not feeding well. Ensure a consistently quiet and calm environment at feeding
  8. If wind stimulates your baby’s senses during feeding so that he stops feeding, let him break the wind and then carry on feeding
  9. Reciprocate your baby’s sensory signals. If she looks at you, return eye contact, but look away when she looks away to allow her ‘sensory space’ to focus on feeding.

Ultimately, whether you go for breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the most important thing is doing what feels right for you and your baby. Your nurturing and love are what truly count. Happy feeding, moms!

By Sister Ann Richardson