Back to Growing Stages Main Page  |  Back to Home Page  |  


I. Breast feeding

It is a universally accepted fact that breastfeeding is best for the baby despite the manufacture of so many types of infant formulas. Nature has bestowed on the mother a pair of mammary glands, which produces the best food and the best food delivery system, which is ideal for their babies.

Advantages of Breast Feeding

a. Breast milk is the ideal food for the baby as it contains at least a hundred ingredients not found in cow's milk or any other formula.
b. Breast milk is easily digested by the baby's sensitive digestive system. Breast fed babies are less likely to suffer from colic, gas and excessive spilling. There is also less chance of nappy rash.
c. Breast milk is readily available, clear and at the perfect temperature for the baby's feed. Unlike bottle feeding, breast milk is cost free. It is the ultimate convenience food.
d. Babies are almost never allergic to breast milk. Lactose intolerance and allergies are very often seen with cow's milk and formulas, then switching to a hydrolysate formula becomes necessary.
e. Breast milk reduces the risk of digestive upsets in two ways :
i. Destroys a number of causative harmful micro-organisms.
ii. Encourages the growth of beneficial micro-organisms, which keep the
harmful organism in check. Breast milk has a naturally laxative effect, preventing constipation in a breast fed child.
f. A breast fed infant receives a healthy dose of anti-bodies through the milk, which increases immunity to diseases. Breast milk contains less sodium and protein, which puts less stress on the babies kidneys. A breast fed baby also has a better absorption of calcium, since the breast milk contains low levels of phosphorous.
h. The contact of mother's breast to the child's body helps to build a special bond between mother and child. 
i. Benefits of breast feeding for the mother :
i. Breast feeding is better for the mother's body as it quickly helps to shrink back the uterus to the pre-pregnancy size.
ii. Breast feeding helps the mother to burn 500 calories or more in a day which helps her to shed the extra weight gained during pregnancy.
iii. Ovulation and menstruation are suppressed during the breast feeding period which prevents pregnancy.
iv. A mother who breast feeds her child, has a reduced risk of breast cancer occurring at an earlier stage.
v. Breast feeding gives enforced rest periods to the mother and some time to relax.

When you cannot Breast Feed

Conditions in the mother

a. If the mother suffers from any serious debilitating disease like heart or kidney diseases or severe aneamia, it is advisable for such a mother not to breast feed her baby.
b. In serious infections like Tuberculosis and Aids.
c. Mothers who take regular medication of certain drugs (such as antithyroid, anticancerous and antihypertensive, tranquillisers and sedatives) as these drugs pass through the milk of the mother and can harm the baby.
d. Mothers who are alcohol or drug addicts or use barbiturates.
e. Mothers whose breasts have inadequate glandular tissue of the breasts or have damage to the nerve supply of the nipple due to injury or surgery.

Conditions in the child

a. Any deformity in the newborn like cleft palate or cleft lip which makes sucking difficult.
b. Any medical condition in the child like phenylketonuria or lactose intolerance.

Facts about breast feeding.

a. The milk secreted within the first 3 days of delivery is colostrum. Though it is secreted in small amounts, it is enough to meet all the needs of the newborn. Colostrum is rich in vitamins including vitamin A and vitamin K. It contains many antibodies and other factors, which protect the child against life threatening infections.
b. Colostrum for the first 3 days and breast milk for 4-6 months is all that the baby needs.
c. A baby who only breastfeeds (and does not drink any water) and urinates six times or more in 24 hours is getting enough breast milk.
d. Frequent watery motion in an exclusively breastfed child who is active and passes urine adequately is normal.
e. Newborns must be put to the breast within half to one hour after delivery, because the baby's sucking stimulates the breast to produce milk.
f. A baby must be allowed to keep sucking from one side till he gets the hind milk and leaves the breast on his own.
g. More sucking means more breast milk. Allow the baby to feed as often and as long as it wants.
h. Demand feeding helps to prevent breast engorgement and breast infections.
i. Breast feeding can be continued even with sore or cracked nipples.
j. Exposure to air (and sun if possible) and applying a drop of hind milk is good for the sore-nipple.
k. It is safe to continue breast feeding even if infection or an abcess develops in the breast. If the breasts are painful, then express the milk from that side.
l. Breast infection can be treated with hot water fomentations and antibiotics. An abcess needs to be incised and drained.

II. Bottle feeding

Bottle feeding is not recommended, as it is a potent source of infection. However, if due to unforeseen circumstances where breastfeeding is not advisable , then bottle-feeding is recommended under the instructions of the baby's doctor.

Remember to use preboiled bottles every time you bottle feed. The bottle should be boiled for at least 10 minutes after the water starts boiling. Boil the nipples in the last 5 minutes. The preferred milk is formula milk and should be given in the proper dilutions as advised by the child's doctor. Do not leave any unconsumed milk in the bottle. Wash the bottle immediately after use.

When to wean from Breast Feeding ?

Breast feeding is one of the most gratifying experiences for the mother. One should breast feed exclusively until the baby is at least 4 months old.

Most doctors recommend introduction of solids between 4-6 months. Introduction of solids should compliment breast feeding. Many children are ready to give up breast feeding around the age of 9 months to 1 year.

Watching a child grow from one stage of development to another is always a bitter-sweet experience. You swell with pride to see the way he has grown, but are sad at the same time to realize that he will never be a baby again. It is possible that at first you may miss the physical closeness to your toddler that nursing used to provide. One can replace the time spent in nursing by other activities like hugging, cuddling, playing together and reading together which increases the proximity.

You should consider weaning gradually over a period of weeks or even months. Sudden weaning from the breast may be physically uncomfortable for the nursing mother. It is extremely necessary that weaning should be a very gradual process for both the nursing mother and the baby. It allows time to the mother and the child to adjust to the end of a very special era. The adjustment would be easier if you give your toddler extra love and attention during weaning.

There are few things you should consider while weaning your child off breast feeding :
a. Be sure that your toddler can drink fairly well from a cup. Sooner or later all children learn to drink from a cup. The trick is getting them to do it sooner rather than later. The best time is early in the second half of the first year, when babies are still relatively pliable and drinking from a cup is a novelty and not a necessity
b. Timing is one of the key factors. Don't wean if your toddler is going through other major changes due to the arrival of a new sibling or any kind of sickness. If your child is at a high risk for eczema or asthma, you should plan to exclusively breast feed him for at least for 6-8 months. If your child falls sick often, delay weaning as breast milk increases immunity of child
c. If your child wakes up in the morning or from a nap or is hungry for meal, offer a drink from a cup or a snack at first. If your child still clamours for breast, then oblige. Gradually his milk intake will reduce which in turn will reduce your milk supply.
d. Try to prevent your toddler from falling asleep at the breast. Nurse before, rather than after a regular bedtime routine.
e. Cut back on the number of daily feedings. Usually, it is the midday feeds which the toddler is disinterested in. Eventually cut down to just one feed and drop the remaining feeds by distracting your child, by offering a toy or a book.

Back to Growing Stages Main Page  |  Back to Home Page  |