What do I need to know about infant feeding?

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2010 01:27pm
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In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. 

In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. This can cause confusion for expectant and new parents who have many decisions to make, not the least of which is how to feed their baby.

Fact: Newborns need to eat often - at least every 2 to 3 hours
Newborns need to feed at least every 2 to 3 hours because their stomachs are small. A day-old baby’s tummy can hold about 5-7 ml (1-2 tsp) of milk; by 3 days 22-30 ml (.75-1 oz); and by 7 days 22-60 ml (1.5-2 oz). So, it doesn’t take a lot to fill their tummies and their tummies need to be filled often because they empty often. As your baby gets older, feeding tends to be more like every 3 to 4 hours, but will become more frequent again during growth spurts—at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Breast milk is also very easily digested and with small stomachs baby needs to eat frequently.

Fact: There are ways to determine that your baby is well fed and hydrated.
It’s true that you cannot measure the amount of milk your baby drinks during breastfeeding. But the important thing is recognizing that your baby is well-fed and hydrated. In the first months your baby will:

  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Continuously suck and swallow for at least 10 to 20 minutes during breastfeeding.
  • Have at least one wet diaper for each day of age up to 3 days. After day 4, there should be at least 6 to 8 heavy wet diapers each day. A heavy diaper feels like 40-60 ml (2-3Tbsp) of liquid on a cloth or disposable diaper.
  • Have at least 2 to 3 stools each day; by day 3 there should be at least 3 stools per day. Some breastfed babies pass stool every time they’re fed, meaning 10 to 12 stools per day, which is normal, too.
  • Have a moist look to their mouth - as if they were wet.

If, your baby is not showing these signs, your baby is becoming dehydrated and needs immediate medical attention. Take your baby to the hospital emergency.

Fact: Dry skin, a sunken soft spot on baby’s head and dry mucus membranes are also signs of dehydration.
These are late signs of dehydration in your baby, your baby needs to be in hospital and getting medical care. The soft spot on the top of a well-fed baby’s head should be flat and not sunken. Skin that is dry and does not have much elasticity indicates that your baby is not getting enough fluid. Gently pinch the skin on your baby’s thigh or tummy and let it go: it should lie back down, not remain pinched together. Mucus membranes should be moist or wet.

Fact: Babies under six months do not need baby food.
The recommendations from Health Canada on infant feeding indicate that solid baby food be delayed until your baby is six months old. By six months, your baby’s stores of iron start to diminish. Before six months your baby’s bowels are still maturing and the muscle coordination in your baby’s mouth, head and neck are not developed enough to manage solid food. Giving solid food to early may lead to the development of food allergies and obesity.

Fact: Breastfeeding allows you to bond with your baby.
Breastfeeding is a good way to bond with your baby but it isn’t the only way. Dad or your partner can have the same skin-to-skin contact by placing your baby, dressed only in a diaper, on his bare chest. Include snuggling, talking, singing and reading in your everyday routines with your baby as these are other ways that you and others can use to bond.

Fact: Colostrum is baby’s most important first food.
Colostrum, the yellow or orangey-coloured first milk, is considered the perfect first food for babies. It is easily digested, low in fat, high in carbohydrates, high in proteins and contains antibodies to keep your baby from getting ill. This first milk helps to protect your baby’s tummy and bowels. It also helps her to poo in the first few days after birth and may help prevent jaundice.

Fact: Breastfeeding takes time for you and baby to learn.
Although breastfeeding seems like the most natural thing in the world, this doesn’t mean that it will all fall into place naturally for every mom and baby. It is a learned art and it may require time and patience to learn. However, there is a lot of support available to you, beginning with the nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital, to public health nurses and breastfeeding clinics in the community and the La Leche League hotline 24 hours a day. The payoff? Never having to wash, sterilize, prepare, store and transport bottles for the next year. Just breastfeed whenever and wherever your baby needs to feed. What could be easier?

Fact: Small-breasted women are able to breastfeed.
Breast size has nothing to do with a woman's ability to breastfeed. In fact, larger breasts are due to more fat tissue. Breast milk is made by special milk-producing cells, not fat cells.

Fact: Most women make enough milk to breastfeed.
Most women make more than enough milk to breastfeed their babies. Early and ongoing breastfeeding guidance and support can help to avoid poor latching, the main reason for a low milk supply. Short and infrequent breastfeeding may also cause low milk supply. In rare cases, some women have a medical condition and may be unable to breastfeed.

Fact: Women who have flat or inverted nipples are able to breastfeed.
Latching your baby onto the breast may be more of a challenge with a flat or inverted nipple but it is possible. Your baby needs to have as much of the areola, the brown part around your nipple, in her mouth as possible in order to drink your breast milk. So, although your nipple helps to guide this process, it is not absolutely necessary to it. Once the areola is in your baby’s mouth, the nipple will come out as she sucks.

Fact: Breastfeeding should not cause pain.
Although the first weeks of breastfeeding may cause nipple tenderness – after all, this is new – there should be no pain during breastfeeding. Pain is usually the result of an incorrect latch. Correcting the latch should ease the pain. If pain persists during feeding, however, consult your a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor. A lactation consultant is a specialist in breastfeeding. Some moms and babies share a yeast infection that requires both mom and baby to have treatment.

Fact: Women who have had breast surgery may be able to breastfeed.
A woman’s ability to breastfeed will depend on the type of surgery and the part of the breast that’s involved. For example, if the areola and/or nipple were affected, there is a greater chance of problems with breastfeeding than if the surgery was in a different area of the breast. Speak with the doctor who did the surgery they may help you to understand what part of the breast was affected from the surgery.

Fact: You do not need to wash your nipples before each feeding.
Washing your nipples before feeding your baby is not necessary. Frequent use of soap and water will dry your nipples out. Leaving breast milk on your nipples, on the other hand, protects your baby from infection and promotes healing of any soreness and cracks that may have developed.

Fact: Breastfeeding can be done at anytime, in anyplace and needs no special equipment.
In many ways, breastfeeding is liberating—it can be done anytime, anywhere and without any special equipment. It means you don’t have to clean and prepare bottles, which takes time. It means you can take your baby with you without having to carry formula. It is always at the right temperature, you do not need to worry about having to heat it or find a place to warm your baby’s food. It does mean you are the sole provider of food for your baby for the first 6 months. It all depends on your perspective.

Fact: Mothers are allowed to breastfeed their babies in public.
If you are comfortable breastfeeding your baby in public, there is no reason why you shouldn’t. In fact, it is a human right. This means that breastfeeding moms and babies are welcome to nurse anywhere, anytime. No one can tell them not to breastfeed. Some communities post signs to openly acknowledge that they are breastfeeding friendly.

Fact: Breastfed babies do not need extra fluids, like water and juice, in hot weather.
Breastfed babies do not need any other liquids, even in the summer heat. Breastfeed your baby more frequently to keep her hydrated in hot weather. Other liquids may fill your baby without providing the nutrients that breast milk provides and that your baby needs. It is especially recommended that babies under six months of age not be given juice and water.

Fact: A woman can use breastfeeding to help with child spacing.
This method is known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM). Breastfeeding can be used for child spacing but only under the following conditions:

  • Your baby is under six months of age
    Your baby is exclusively breastfed and you are feeding her at least every 3-4 hours
    You have not had a menstrual period.

This is not fool-proof, though. Sometimes, your baby sleeping through the night can have an affect on this method. You may therefore want to use another type of birth control.

Fact: You do not need a special diet if you are breastfeeding.
It is recommended that nursing Moms eat a well-balanced diet, for their own health and for recovery from pregnancy and birth. Your body will produce milk, even if you occasionally consume fewer calories than recommended, provided this is not long-term.

Fact: You do not need to drink milk to breastfeed.
Although milk is a good source of calcium you will continue to make milk, even if you do not drink milk. There are other foods you can eat to obtain calcium. Continue to make sure you are drinking enough fluids during the day. If you are experiencing thirst, you are not taking in enough fluids.

Fact: In most cases you can breastfeed if you are ill.
With the exception of HIV, mom should continue to breastfeed during illness, even if this illness is mastitis. Generally speaking, people are contagious before they actually become ill, so that a baby would have already been exposed. Breast milk contains antibodies and other infection-fighting substances. By continuing to breastfeed your baby, you will continue to pass these on. If your baby becomes ill, chances are the illness will be mild due to the protection that breastfeeding offers.  

Fact: You should check if it is safe to take medicine when you are breastfeeding.
There are few medications that may require you to stop breastfeeding. Most medications are not a concern. Check with Motherrisk if you have concerns about any drugs. They have the most current information. Read medication information and consult your pharmacist with any questions or concerns

Fact: Exercise does not affect the breast milk.
Exercise does not affect breast milk in any way. Therefore, you can breastfeed after exercise.

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Your Baby's Sleep Patterns

by Guest
Posted August 5 2010 05:18pm
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Babies sleep patterns are unpredictable, but here are some guidelines that might help.

Between birth and 3 months: Your baby will probably sleep between 14 and 18 hours per day. As well, by about 6 weeks, most babies will sleep one long period of about 5-6 hours. While you’d probably prefer something that’s similar to your old schedule, like midnight to 6 a.m., your baby will probably prefer something more like 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Between 3 and 6 months: Your baby’s sleep needs will shrink to 14-16 hours and then to 12 to 14 hours somewhere between 6 months and 2 years of age.

Remember, when it comes to babyies and sleep, “normal” is hard to define. Even the experts sometimes disagree on what parents should expect. As long as your baby is fed and comfortable, don’t worry if they’re below average on the sleep scale.

It might help you to keep a sleep activity log for a 7 day stretch. It may show that your baby does have a clear sleep-wake pattern, which will help you to figure out with to be available for your baby’s ‘best times.” These logs can also be helpful to your health care provider, if you find your baby’s sleep patterns are a problem.

How much did your baby sleep for the first few months? Share your experience and how you cope with other parents by leaving a comment below!

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Bonding and Attachment: What Should I Do If I'm Feeling Awkward With My New Baby?

by Guest
Posted August 25 2010 05:38pm
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If you are having trouble relating to your baby, here are some tips that may help:


  • Remember that becoming attached is a process that takes caring, patience and time. Your feelings for your baby will grow stronger over time.

  • Understand how important you are to your baby. Your baby needs to feel comforted and protected by you.

  • Although some of these things might feel awkward at first, here are some ways to build a warm relationship with your child :
      • Hold your child close, talk warmly about what you or your child is doing, and provide hugs and kisses.

      • Try singing or telling a story to your child - whatever songs or stories you like. Be yourself and your baby will come to love it.

      • Try playing some games like peek-a-boo or 'I'm going to get you.'

    Even if it feels like this is "not really you," create your own version of these activities. Over time, both you and your baby will become more relaxed and appreciative of each other.

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How long should you breastfeed?

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2011 02:46pm
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“How long should I breastfeed my baby?” is a question many new moms ask. The question is actually two-fold.

1. How long should I breastfeed my baby each time I breastfeed?

Each feeding should take 10 to 20 minutes of active feeding. This means that your baby is sucking and swallowing constantly for at least 10 to 20 minutes, and not sleeping and waking at the breast. Your baby will start each feed with short, shallow sucks to get the milk flowing, and then switch to slower, deeper sucks, separated by pauses when she swallows. Your baby should make a “kaa, kaa, kaa” sound when they nurse; this shows they are swallowing milk.

Find out more about how frequently you should breastfeed your baby »  

2. How long should I breastfeed my baby in terms of months, years, etc.?

How long you breastfeed is a personal choice. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that Mothers feed their babies just breast milk for the first 6 months exclusively. Your baby’s stomach and bowels are not ready for anything other than breast milk before 6 months of age. Giving your baby other foods too early may cause food allergies or sensitivities.

When your baby is 6 months old, you may notice that she shows interest when you’re eating. This is one sign that your baby is ready to start eating some solid food, beginning with iron-fortified rice cereal or pablum or baby food containing meat in addition to breast milk. 

Other signs that your baby is ready for solid foods include the following:

  • Sits up well, especially in a high chair 
  • Leans forward to accept food from a spoon 
  • Uses his tongue to push the food back toward his throat, instead of forward and out of his mouth 


WHO favours breastfeeding, along with other foods, for up to 2 years or longer. Some Moms continue to breastfeed after they have returned to work. You may choose to breastfeed your baby prior to going to work and in the evening; or choose to express milk at work that will be used to feed baby the next day. You need to decide what works best for you and your baby. 


Does Your Baby Need Anything Else? 

Babies, children and adults all need vitamin D for strong bones and teeth. It can be found naturally in foods, such as salmon and liver, or added to foods, such as margarine and milk. Vitamin D is also formed when we expose our skin to the sun. However, your new baby won’t be eating these foods for quite a while, and you will have to protect her sensitive skin from direct sun. So what does this mean for baby?

Breast milk is one of the best things to feed to your baby. However, the amount of vitamin D in breast milk may not be enough to meet your baby’s growing needs. This is true even if Mom eats foods rich in vitamin D. By giving vitamin D drops to your baby, you can feel sure that your baby is getting enough of this important vitamin. In fact, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), a national advocacy association and voluntary professional association since 1922, recommends it for breastfed babies. (The CPS is committed to the health needs of children and youth, and the CPS represents more than 2,200 paediatricians, paediatric sub specialists, paediatric residents and other child healthcare providers.)

Speak to your baby’s doctor about vitamin D for your baby.


More information on breastfeeding »

Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about breastfeeding? Our expert, Attie Sandink, is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Ask Attie a Question!



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