We talked about breastfeeding, formula feeding and tube feeding in the NICU earlier. Now, we’d like to talk about feeding your baby at home. In the NICU, you may not have been able to feed your baby the way you wanted to. At home, you can find a quiet, comfortable place to feed your baby.
Young babies like to eat a lot. Many babies eat eight to twelve times over 24 hours. But each baby is different. Some babies are hungrier in the mornings, and other babies are hungrier at night. Over time, you will get to know your baby’s eating habits.
If you are not sure about how much milk or formula your baby needs, ask your health care provider.
How do you know when your baby’s ready to eat?
Look for her feeding cues. Feeding cues are ways that your baby tells you that she’s hungry. Examples are:
Breastfeeding a baby who has been in the NICU can be hard. But most babies, including those who were born early or have birth defects, can learn to breastfeed. Take time to get comfortable breastfeeding. Ask your lactation consultant for help. You also can get help from a breastfeeding peer counselor (a mom who has training to help women breastfeed, but not as much as a lactation consultant) or a support group.
Breastfeeding mothers often worry that their baby isn’t getting enough to eat. That’s because they can’t see exactly how much their baby is eating. Your baby is probably getting enough milk if she:
Getting Started: 5 steps to help you breastfeed
If you need to stop nursing, don’t try to pull your baby off your breast. Instead, put your pinky finger in the side of his mouth to release the latch. Breastfeeding may be uncomfortable at first, but should become less so as time goes on. If it doesn’t, talk to your provider or lactation consultant. You probably just need a little help getting started. Don’t feel badly about asking for help.
How do you hold your baby when you breastfeed?
There are different ways to hold your baby when you breastfeed. Try them all to find out which one you and your baby like best. You may want to use a pillow to help support the baby. The cross-cradle and football holds let you have the best control of your breast and your baby’s head. These are the easiest holds for breastfeeding when you’re just starting out. The football hold is also called the clutch hold.
You may already have used a breast pump in the NICU. Many women find it helpful to use a breast pump when they are going back to work or school or just want a break from feedings. Also pumping your breast milk lets your partner feed and bond with the baby.
If you need to store breast milk, you’ll just need a few supplies to keep your breast milk safe.
Your baby’s health care provider will tell you what kind of and how much formula to feed your baby. Some babies leave the hospital on regular infant formula. Other babies need a special formula that has more calories or certain nutrients. Be sure to follow your provider’s feeding plan to make sure that your baby is gaining enough weight. If your baby sleeps for long periods of time, you may need to wake him up every few hours to eat. Ask your baby’s health care provider for help if you need to wake up your baby for feedings.
Be sure to prepare the formula according to the package directions or your baby’s health care provider.
There are three kinds of formula:
Use the scoop that comes with the formula to measure the right amount of powder. Make sure you put the water in the bottle first, then the formula and shake well to mix.
If your baby doesn’t drink all the formula in his bottle within 1 hour, throw it away. Give him a new bottle of fresh formula at the next feeding.
Nipples and bottles
If your baby has done well with the nipples and bottles used in the hospital, ask to take some home. Also ask where you can buy them. If the nipples and bottles used in the hospital didn’t work well, you will need to try different ones to find out what your baby likes best. Clean and store the bottles and nipples according to the package directions. You don’t have to sterilize them unless your baby’s health care provider says you need to.
The best way to warm your baby’s bottle is to put it in a cup of warm water. Test the milk on your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot — it should be lukewarm. Never microwave your baby’s bottle. The milk can heat unevenly and burn your baby’s mouth.
Reflux and spitting up
Reflux happens when food in the stomach comes back up during or after a feeding. All babies spit up once in a while, but some do it a lot. It often happens to babies who were born early. Reflux cam happen whether your baby is breastfed or bottlefed or whether they get breast milk or formula. Most of the time babies outgrow the condition in a few months. And most babies don’t seem to be upset by reflux.
These tips can help lower the chances of your baby spitting up:
Keep some cloth diapers or burp cloths nearby. Use them to protect your clothes, your baby’s clothes and your furniture.
Call your baby’s provider if:
These may be signs that your baby has problems digesting food. Ask your baby’s health care provider what to do.
We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. And if something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.
© Privacy, terms and notices