Learn Your Baby
For your baby, home is in your arms. There, baby finds all he needs: food, love, warmth, comfort, and safety. In the early days, baby will teach you what he wants and when he needs it. And being in your loving arms will teach baby that he can depend on you.
Babies can’t talk, but they can show you when they want to eat! They do this by showing special feeding cues. Watch for these cues and feed baby for as long as she wants whenever you see her. This helps your baby be happier and cry less. It also helps you make more milk so your baby can grow.
How It Works
Your body is amazing! You have the ability to feed and comfort your baby at the same time. Your baby’s cues make it easier to know when!
Babies feed when they’re hungry, when they need comfort, or when they want to suck. Your baby will show you feeding cues when she’s ready. When you respond to baby’s cues, she learns to trust that you will meet her needs. This makes her feel secure so she cries less. As long as you respond to her cues, she will keep showing them.
When Baby Cries
If you miss baby’s feeding cues, he sends out a frantic distress signal by crying. Loudly! Baby is mad and upset now, so forcing him to feed may make him cry even more. Calm him first to lower his stress. Then watch for feeding cues next time so he doesn’t have to cry to get your attention.
Your baby prefers you over a pacifier! A pacifier makes it hard to see your baby’s feeding cues. It can also cause problems with breastfeeding. If you really want to use a pacifier, wait until about a month after your baby is born. Pacifiers will not interfere with feeding then.
Mom Needs Support
After the baby is born, mom may be tired and in pain. It’s hard to be patient while baby is learning to feed if you don’t feel well. When baby cries, it’s easy to become frustrated.
How You Help
As her champion, you can help mom get the rest she needs. Suggest she take a nap, and watch the baby while she rests. Gently wake her when you see that the baby is getting restless and showing feeding cues. Lay the baby on her chest skin-to-skin. If baby is already upset and crying, help mom calm the baby so she can feel more relaxed.
You can feed on cue even when…
Don’t worry. Your baby will not always need to feed this often. Right at first her small tummy holds only a little, so it has to be filled often. Hold your baby skin-to-skin to help her calm between feedings. Be patient and treasure this time of closeness with your baby. Soon it will get easier.
Family and friends might think that all this feeding is spoiling the baby. That is not true! Babies need to eat often to grow and gain weight. It is also not possible to spoil a newborn. Lots of feeding and cuddling make your baby more secure.
Your baby will have his own way to tell you when he wants to feed. Give it time and soon you and your baby will get in sync. If you aren’t sure, ask your nurse to help you.
Sometimes babies go to the Special Care Nursery or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. This helps the doctor and nurse watch your baby more closely. If you and your baby will be apart for more than an hour after the birth, express your milk by hand or with a breast pump. If your baby cannot stay in your room with you, ask if you can go to your baby. If your baby is not able to breastfeed, ask your nurse for a breast pump to express your milk.
All babies show feeding cues, no matter how they are fed. When you watch for those cues, your baby will be less likely to eat too much.
Frequently Asked Questions
Plan to nurse your baby every time she shows feeding cues. Your baby needs to eat at least 8 to 12 times every day. Lots of nursing helps quiet your baby and helps you make more milk.
Babies cry for lots of reasons besides hunger. Babies fuss when they are too hot or too cold. They cry when they are tired. They cry when too many people hold them. They fuss when they want to be warm and snuggly in your arms.
Most babies are sleepy during the first day and become more alert by the second night. They can easily get over stimulated from the hospital activity and may cry a lot. They often want to feed nonstop to feel safe and calm. Just hold baby skin-to-skin and feed him when he wants. Soon he will settle.
Birth is tiring, so most babies sleep a lot at first. If baby is still sleeping 3 to 5 hours after the last feed began, you can try to wake her. Change her diaper, unwrap her, and place her on your chest skin-to-skin. She will wake slowly and calmly.
It’s easier for baby to wake when you wait until he’s in a light sleep. Watch his eyelids! You’ll see fluttering under his eyelids and maybe even see him smile in his sleep. He will wake more easily now.
Rooming-in is good for all babies and moms, no matter how they are fed. Every baby needs to feel warm and secure in the arms of his mother. And all moms want a baby who is happier and more content.
And there you have it
You and your baby make a perfect team. Together, you can do it!