Category Archives: Feeding

Baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Tips and Advice

Close up of a mum breastfeeding her baby aged 2-3 monthsYou may have decided well before your baby was born that you are going to breastfeed, you may be looking for some feeding advice as your due date approaches or perhaps you are already breastfeeding your new born and you’re looking for further information and advice. I breastfed for 14 months and at times it was a real struggle but, I am so proud of myself for sticking with it and giving my little girl the best possible start to life. There are probably over one hundred questions you have about breastfeeding, here are the ones I had, the things I wondered about and the things that I found out:

How long should I breastfeed?

There is no hard and fast rule as to how long you should breastfeed. The world health organisation recommends that you breastfeed for up to two years and beyond, the department of health recommend that you exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. Once you have decided to breastfeed, you do not need to set yourself a target for how long you are going to breastfeed or set a deadline for finishing. Every day that you breastfeed makes a difference, it reduces the chance of food intolerances and continues to protect him from infections regardless of whether he is 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years. If you are thinking of stopping breastfeeding because you are having problems, it may help to speak to someone first as problems can often be overcome with the right advice.

How often will my baby need to feed?

Your baby may need 8 feeds per 24 hours or could need 12 feeds per 24 hours. She may want to feed every 3 hours or may want some of her feeds close together and the others spaced out. You should feed your baby when she is hungry. During the early weeks your newborn may appear to be hungrier than usual. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t producing enough milk; it is her way of “asking” for more milk to be supplied in preparation for a growth spurt (hang in there!). You should try to avoid comparing your breastfed baby’s feeding pattern to that of a bottle fed or mix-fed, they have a totally different feeding pattern. Avoid letting your breastfed baby sleep for long stretches, you may need to wake her up for her feeds if she is a particularly sleepy baby.

How do I know how if my baby is getting enough milk?

The obvious signs that he is getting enough milk is that he is:

  • Gaining weight steadily
  • Has plenty of wet nappies
  • Has several poos a day(in the first 6 weeks)
  • And seems content and happy.
  • There is absolutely no harm in breastfeeding frequently, he will always enjoy the closeness of the occasion.

How do I know if my baby has latched on properly?

There are 4 things that you can check whilst feeding to ensure your little one has latched on properly:

  • You can visibly see the working of her jaw muscle
  • Her mouth is wide open and her chin is against your breast
  • She suckles and swallows rhythmically whilst the pauses your baby takes whilst feeding increase as the feed progresses
  • You don’t experience any pain after the first few seconds of attachment
  • You should also see plenty of wet and dirty nappies as appropriate for her age.

How important is colostrum?

Colostrum is often referred to as ‘booster milk,’ it is an amazing mixture of proteins, vitamins, enzymes and anti-infective agents that help your baby through her first 3-4 days of life and can’t be found anywhere else. It boosts her resistance to infections and also has a laxative effect which helps your baby with her first poo (meconium).

What medicines should I avoid?

When buying or being prescribed any medicines you should always inform your pharmacist or gp that you are breastfeeding. Any drug that you take will be passed on to your little one in small amounts. There are plenty of medicines that are safe to take whilst breastfeeding such as anti-biotics, paracetamol, hay fever tablets (such as Clarityn), asthma pumps and vitamins and some that should definitely be avoided. You should always see an alternative medication if the drugs you are being prescribed or are thinking of purchasing contain any of the following ingredients:

  • Aspirin
  • Codeine
  • Phenylephrine
  • Guaifenesin

If unsure, you should always be check with a healthcare professional.

Is it safe to drink alcohol?

The Royal College of Midwives recommends total abstinence during both pregnancy and breastfeeding, on the other hand, the American academy of paediatrics support the view that it is safe for breastfeeding mothers to drink within reason. Breast milk from a mother who has an occasional alcoholic drink is still far better than a formula feed, therefore, you should not stop breastfeeding for want of a glass of wine. You of course need to know your boundaries; If you overdo it and still feel drunk or you have vomited then you should really avoid breastfeeding for at least 12 hours. It has been suggested that nursing mothers who want to be able to have a drink, should try having a small glass of wine with a meal, shortly after your baby has fed. This way there is time for your body to process the alcohol before your baby wants to feed again. Levels of alcohol in your bloodstream are at their highest between 30-90 minutes after drinking and it takes 2-3 hours for one small glass of wine to leave your breast milk. In short, the occasional glass of wine is fine, perhaps save it for special occasions. Anything over the recommended daily limit of 2-3 units is harmful to the both of you.

What foods should I avoid?

There is no reason to avoid any particular food during breastfeeding. If you feel that a certain food is upsetting your little one, you should always discuss this with your GP or health care provider before you consciously omit it from your diet. If you or your partner have inherited allergies such as hay fever asthma or eczema then you may want to avoid any obvious source of peanuts during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

Do I need to be on a special diet?

You do not need to eat any differently whilst breastfeeding as long as your usual diet is relatively healthy. You should always aim to have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day as well as a healthy mixture of dairy, meat, poultry and eggs, wholemeal bread, pasta, rice and cereals. You should also try and have at least 2 portions of fish per week and drink plenty of fluids.

Can I give my breastfed baby a dummy?

It is not recommended to give dummy during the establishment period of breastfeeding. This is usually the first four weeks of your newborns life but for some may be a bit longer. Some do’s and don’t and problems that may arise are:

  • Giving a dummy could interfere with your newborns ability to feed effectively. This is because the technique used to suck a dummy is different from the technique used to breastfeed.
  • It could affect your milk supply. If you are breastfeeding, you need to be feeding on demand. If the feeding cues your baby is giving you are misinterpreted and a dummy is used to help settle your him instead then this will result in you producing less milk.
  • It is very important that your baby is fed on demand as it helps your body to establish and maintain a good milk supply for your baby.
  • If your newborn is over 4 weeks old and is breastfeeding well (gaining weight steadily, plenty of wet and dirty nappies) and you want to introduce a dummy to her, it is recommended that you only give your baby a dummy to help her to sleep.
  • It is still vital that you recognise your baby’s feeding cues and don’t use the dummy as a replacement for her feeds.

Should I avoid breastfeeding if I am a smoker?

If you smoke while breastfeeding, your baby will also be exposed to nicotine. Your breast milk will still protect him from infection and provide him with various nutrients that aren’t available from any formula milk. Instead of looking to not breastfeed, you should look at your other options such as nicotine replacement therapy. You should speak to your GP or health visitor/midwife about this. You should never smoke in your house or the car and always ensure friends and family are aware of this when your baby is present.

What is the law regarding breastfeeding in public?

The law states that you are perfectly entitled to breastfeed your baby (of any age) in any public place or place of business that provides a service. This includes but is not limited to parks, leisure centres, public buildings, buses, trains, planes, shops, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, theatres, cinemas, petrol stations and in public. Any service provider working in such an environment must not discriminate, harass or victimise anyone who is breastfeeding. If you feel you are being treated differently, have been asked not to breastfeed, have been asked to leave, are receiving a lower standard of service or are being treated unfavourably in any way then the equality act states that this is sexual discrimination. The only place that is permitted to request that you do not breastfeed is a place that is designed solely and justifiably for men’s use only or if there is a certain health risk associated with in the area such as chemicals or radiation. If you feel you have been discriminated against you should first raise a complaint with the organisation. If you feel that the matter has not been resolved you may wish to seek advice on county court action.

I hope you have found this post helpful and that some of your questions about breastfeeding have been answered.

I would love to hear from you about anything else you feel is worth passing on to other new parents or any challenges you had whilst breastfeeding.

This is an 8 month old sitting in her high chair, smiling and enjoying some finger food

Weaning advice, information and helpful tips

This shows a 6 month old baby sitting in a high chair with food all over the tray

Weaning is the process of gradually introducing your baby to solid foods, eventually your baby will be eating the same foods as the rest of the family. This is a big milestone in your baby’s life and I have all of the essentials covered including when to start weaning, which foods to avoid, freezing and defrosting guidelines and what to look out for.

What is weaning?

Weaning is the process of gradually introducing solid foods to your baby until he is eating the same, healthy foods as an adult. Babies get all of their nutrients from milk; the amount of milk your baby wants will naturally and gradually reduce as he eats more solid foods. Toddlers, preschoolers and school children continue to need milk as part of their everyday diet.

When should I start weaning my baby?

It is advised that you should start weaning at around 6 months old. Your baby is ready to be weaned when all of the following applies:

  • He is able to sit in an upright position and support his own head
  • He is able to focus on food in front of him and pick it up unaided and place it in his mouth (using his hands)
  • He is able to swallow the food rather than push it back out with his tongue

If he is unable to do the above and has started waking more often during the night, wants extra feeds during the day or has started to chew his fists, this is not necessarily a sign of being ready for solid foods. In this situation try offering more milk feeds. Let weaning happen at its own natural pace and talk to your health visitor if you have any worries or concerns.

What equipment do I need when weaning?

This is a fisher price easy clean high chairIf you are already in the habit of cooking freshly prepared meals then you may not need to buy any additional cooking equipment for when you start weaning. As long as you have a saucepan, frying pan, mixing bowl, chopping board and colander then you are pretty good to go. Some parents find it easier to use a 3 tier electric steamer, particularly if cooking large quantities of different foods at the same time (to store for later use). You will also need a hand blender if you are feeding your baby puréed food rather than using the ‘baby led weaning’ technique. I used the following items, (my advice would be to borrow a bumbo seat if you can as you won’t need it for very long):

  • A Bumbo seat with a tray
  • A high-chair
  • plenty of bibs
  • Splash mats
  • Storage pots or ice cube trays with lids (for storing your baby’s food in the fridge/freezer)
  • Training cup (for water)
  • Weaning spoons and bowls (if feeding your baby purées).

How do I get started with weaning?

Six month old baby looking straight at the camera with orange pureed food on her chicken. Possibly sweet potatoTo avoid the risk of choking, never leave your child alone when he is eating, he should always be sitting upright and facing forwards in a high-chair or a Bumbo seat with a tray. For first tastes, you only need to offer a few teaspoons of mashed or puréed vegetables/fruit per day. To reach the right consistency, this can be mixed with your little ones usual milk. Try offering a variety of different tastes and textures, let him touch the food and allow him to feed himself with his fingers. If you are using a spoon, never force it into his mouth, just try again later if he doesn’t seem interested. It is not important how much your baby eats to begin with as he will still be getting most of his goodness from his usual milk feeds. The best advice I had when I started weaning my first born was to invest in a weaning and meal planner recipe book.

What foods should I avoid?

There are some foods you should avoid giving altogether, some which should be avoided until a certain age (and the weaning process is complete) and some which can be given but pose a risk of choking so will need you to be extra careful. The advice is as follows:

  • EGGSAt least 6 months old. If you have decided to wean before he is 6 months old then you must avoid giving him eggs. For babies 6 months or older; cook the egg until both the white and the yolk are solid.
  • HONEYAt least 12 months old. This is a sugar and can lead to tooth decay and has also been known to cause infant botulism (a very serious illness that affects your baby’s intestines). You should not give honey until your baby is at least 12 months old.
  • LOW FAT FOODSAt least 2 years old. Fat is very important for both your baby’s daily calorie intake and is a source of some essential vitamins. Children under two years of age should always be given full fat dairy products such as cheese, cheese This is a salt pot with a red line through it to indicate no salt to be used when cooking for your babyspreads, yoghurt or fromage frais.
  • RAW SHELLFISHAvoid. This should be avoided as it may increase the risk of food poisoning
  • NUTSAt least 5 years old. Due to the risk of choking, you should not give nuts to any child under 5.
  • SALT – Avoid. You should never add salt to your babies food or use stock cubes or gravy as these also have a high salt content.
  • SATURATED FATLimit the amount of saturated fats you give your baby such as chips, cakes and cheap burgers.
  • SHARK, SWORDFISH AND MARLINAvoid. The mercury levels in these fish can have a negative affect on your baby’s growing nervous system.
  • SUGAR Avoid. You may find that by giving your baby sweet foods, you ecourage a sweet tooth, this could lead to tooth decay. For more information on how to prevent tooth decay, see our how to care for baby teeth page.

The following foods pose a choking hazard and you should be very careful if giving them to your baby:

  • Raw carrots
  • Large apple pieces
  • Grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes

What are the typical signs of an allergic reaction and what should I do?

If you have a history of asthma, eczema, food allergies or hayfever in your family then your baby is also more likely to develop an allergy. You can help to reduce this risk by exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months. If you are bottle feeding your baby, it may be worth getting a formula recommendation from your GP. You should also try to introduce foods that are known to cause food allergies at a time that you can watch for and quickly identify any allergic reaction (these foods are: milk, eggs, wheat, nuts, seeds, fish and shellfish).
The typical signs of a food allergy are:

  • A cough
  • Diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Itchy throat or tongue
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Sore, red and itchy eyes
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath

If you think your baby is suffering from an allergic reaction you should always seek medical advice immediately. Never cut a food out of your baby’s diet before discussing it with your GP.

How much milk should I give when weaning?

To begin with your baby will be getting all of the nutrients he needs from his milk feeds. As your baby starts to eat more solid foods, the This is a 7 month old baby being bottle fed amount of milk he wants will start to reduce. Once your baby is eating breakfast, lunch and dinner you can then drop a milk feed. You should continue to breastfeed your baby or if you are bottle feeding, make sure he gets at least 500-600ml (approximately a pint) of infant formula per day.

Is it safe to store food for later use?

It is absolutely safe to make your baby’s food in bulk and store it for later use as long as it is stored and reheated correctly. You should follow these guidelines:

  • Transfer the meal into an airtight container as soon as possible
  • Cool it down, preferably within 2 hours. You can do this by running it under cold tap water and occasionally stirring it. This will ensure the food is thoroughly cooled throughout.
  • Once it has cooled, place it in the fridge or freezer.
  • Food placed in the fridge should be eaten within 2 days.
  • Food placed in the freezer should be thoroughly defrosted before being reheated.
  • When reheating food, make sure it is piping hot all the way to its centre and allow it to cool before giving to your baby.

What is the best way to defrost frozen baby meals?

There are 2 options to safely defrost your baby’s frozen meals, these are:4 storage pots for baby food in pink, purple and green

  • In the fridge overnight.
  • Place the frozen meal in a leak proof plastic bag (to avoid contamination) and fully submerse in clean, cold water. The water must be replaced with fresh cold water every 30 minutes until the food has completely thawed. The whole meal must be cooked/heated up immediately.
  • You should never defrost frozen food on the kitchen counter or anywhere else not listed above.

How long can I store cooked food in the freezer?

Food stored in a freezer at a maximum temperature of 0 degrees Celsius is safe for an almost indefinite period of time. I do however recommend storing baby food in the freezer for no longer than 2 months, this way you can be sure that the quality of the food is not being compromised.

Do I need to sterilise my baby’s bowls and cutlery?

There is no need to sterilise your baby’s bowls and cutlery. If you have a dishwasher, they should be placed on the top shelf and washed using the highest temperature setting. If you are hand washing them, wash in hot soapy water.

I hope you found these weaning tips helpful, I would love to hear about your experiences of weaning and any comments, tips, information or advice you can offer that I haven’t covered. Thanks for reading!

This is an image of 6 tommee tippee branded baby bottles

Bottle feeding tips

This is an image of a 2 and a half month old being bottle fedSince having my first child I have come across a lot of bottle feeding tips, guidelines and information. That is exactly what this post is all about. 8 questions about feeding your newborn that you will need to know before you get started. I have covered how often to bottle feed your little one, how much to feed her, an equipment check list and plenty more. Whether you are solely bottle feeding or combining breast and formula milk, there are a few things that you need to know before you begin. I breastfed my first born for 6 weeks and gave her a few expressed bottles during this period too, at 6 weeks old she was ill with bronchiolitis and was also diagnosed with reflux. With so much going on she found it impossible to feed from me, we were advised to bottle feed her medicated formula milk, these are the questions I had before I started bottle feeding and the the most helpful tips and advice I was given, I hope you find it useful:

What equipment will I need?

If you are solely formula feeding, I would say you need to have the following equipment in your house and ready to use:

  • 6x bottles
  • 6x new born teats
  • Bottle brush
  • Steriliser
  • Thermal flask
  • 3-5 cartons of ready made formula milk
  • Storage container for transporting small amounts of formula
  • Plenty of bibs

How often should I offer a milk feed?

Your newborn will develop a feeding routine after a short space of time of being bottle fed, however, it is still important that she is fed when displaying signs of being hungry. The signs of being hungry are:

  • Moving around and fidgeting as she wakes up
  • Moving her head and mouth (as though she is looking for something to suckle)
  • Sucking on clothes, objects or her fingers.
  • It is worth noting that young babies often want to feed little and often, your baby won’t necessarily go longer between feeds just because she took more milk than usual in her previous feed and won’t necessarily be hungrier earlier than usual if she took less.

How do you prepare formula milk?

This is an image of a phillips avent steriliserAll bottles will need to be washed and sterilised before each use and the formula made up by following the instructions on the packet. You must boil fresh tap water and not re-boil old kettle water. You must also make the feed up between 10-30 minutes after the kettle has boiled (or at least before the boiling water has cooled to below 70 degrees Celsius); this is to ensure that any bacteria that may have developed in the formula milk powder is destroyed before it is consumed.

How do I bottle feed when out and about?

The safest way to prepare each bottle of milk is to make it fresh at the time. This is not always practical, especially if you are dropping your little one off at a nursery or a childminders or you are out for a long period during the day. To avoid the risk of bacteria growth in the bottles, you can either use ready to use cartons (which are the safest option as they are sterile) or pour freshly boiled water into a thermal flask to take with you. You can then make up the feed when needed.

How much formula milk does my baby need?

Newborns will initially take very small amounts of formula milk. When they are approximately a week old, you should start offering around 150-200ml of milk per kg of your baby’s weight per day. To work out how much to offer per feed, this amount should then be divided by the amount of daily bottles you are giving. This rule should work up until the age 6 months.

When can I give my baby cow’s milk?

This is a picture of a pint of blue full fat milk

Most infant formulas are based on cow’s milk and are given as an alternative to breastfeeding. However, whole or ‘full fat’ cow’s milk (the one with the blue lid) should only be introduced to your baby once she is 12 months old. Cow’s milk simply does not contain enough iron and nutrients to be given to babies under 12 months old. However, you can use cow’s milk in food from around 6 months. Once your toddler is 2 years old, she is allowed to have semi-skimmed cow’s milk. You should only do this if she is already a good eater with a healthy, varied diet. Skimmed milk should not be given to children under 5 years of age.

Do I need to wind my baby after every feed?

You may need to wind him after every bottle feed; when a baby bottle feeds, it is not unusual to swallow air at the same time. This will cause discomfort that will only be eased by him releasing the air- in the form of a burp. The recommended way of burping your baby is to hold her upright against your shoulder or sit her on your lap, leaning slightly forwards, you should then gently and patiently rub his back so that any trapped air can easily find its way out again.

Why does my baby vomit after a feed?

If she brings up milk just after a feed it can be upsetting and worrying and is something you should seek advice on. It could be caused by reflux, this is where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and into the oesophagus (gullet), this will result in her experiencing pain or discomfort after eating and you should contact your GP immediatley if you think this is the case. Other factors that may cause your baby to vomit after a feed are:

  • Giving your baby a teat that is too big: Fast flow teats can cause your baby to take too much milk, too quickly and therefore cause ‘possetting’ or ‘regurgitation’.
  • Lying your baby down too quickly after a feed: Try not to lye your baby down immediately after a feed and advise family members to do the same.
  • Too much milk. Some babies prefer to feed little and often: If he is regularly sick after feeding, as well as speaking to your health visitor or GP you can also try offering smaller amounts of milk more regularly.
  • I hope you found these bottle feeding tips helpful, if you have anything to add to this, please use the comments box below. Thanks for reading.
    Top of page