Breast feeding is highly beneficial to both mother and baby as it provides vital nutrients which babies need for the first six months of life which cannot be reproduced, it also helps fight all kinds of infections as it contains antibodies. There are many advantages of breast feeding but I have listed the main advantages for mothers and babies:
Breast milk is the only food specifically designed, by nature, to meet the individual needs of babies.
It contains the right balance of nutrients in an easily digestible form.
Breast fed babies are less likely to have infections as antibodies are passed on through the milk. Not only does breast feeding protect the baby it also helps reduce the mothers chances of getting certain diseases in later life, diseases such as ovarian and breast cancer.
They are less likely to have constipation or diarrhoea.
It can reduce the incidence of allergies such as eczema and asthma.
Breast feeding allows the mother and baby to get closer – physically and emotionally.
Breast milk contains growth factors and hormones to help your baby’s development. These cannot be reproduced in formula milk.
Breastfeeding helps your body to return to normal after the birth and it costs nothing.
Even though breast feeding has many advantages as with most things it comes with some disadvantages these I have listed below:
For some women breastfeeding can be painful, stressful and tiring.
Mothers who breast feed can find it difficult to leave the baby for more than a few hours as no one else can do it unless her milk has been expressed.
Blood borne viruses such as hepatitis B or HIV and some medication can be passed on to the baby through breast milk.
Breast fed babies eat more often than bottle fed babies and therefore more milk is needed which puts more pressure on the mother at an exhausting time for her.
With breast feeding there is little a mother needs to do to prepare for the feed as she has already produced the milk. Mothers may wish to use:
A nursing bra for support, comfort and ease to feed the baby.
Nursing pads to prevent milk leaking onto clothing.
Some mothers may wish to wear” breast feeding” clothes these are just comfortable clothes which are also easy to breast feed in.
Bottle feeding is a good way to help mothers spend time with their babies and bond with them. Bottle feeding helps mothers who are too busy to breast feed their baby, to feed them with milk which contains the nutrients of breast milk. Below are the disadvantages and advantages of bottle feeding.
Bottle feeding is convenient for mothers especially those working outside the home.
Bottle feeding always works and the failure rate is zero( as opposed to breast feeding where the baby may not take to it)
It is easier to schedule, bottle fed babies tend to sleep through the night earlier than breast fed babies.
Other family members can share in feeding and thus bonding with the baby.
Parents know exactly how much food their baby is getting.
Bottle feeding is less time consuming
Mothers don’t need to worry about their diet or medications.
Formula milk is nutritionally close to breast milk, but not exact.
Formula milk contains no antibodies and components that only mother’s milk contains.
It is costly and not as convenient(formula to be prepared, trips to the kitchen, extra bottles and equipment)
There are usually more gas and air swallowing problems.
Babies are more likely to get colic.
To bottle feed a baby you need to prepare the milk and bottle before feeds, and it has to be done very carefully to ensure it is safe for the baby to drink. Listed below is a step by step guide for preparation of a bottle feed.
1st wash your hands before preparation and clean the surface you are going to use. All feeding equipment must be clean and sterilized before use following manufacturer’s instructions.You must wash your hands before any preparation of food for babies as the germs on your hands could cause babies to become very ill. Feeding equipment needs to be sterilized because it will remove any harmful bacteria and will clean the bottle thoroughly.
Freshly run water needs to be boiled; never use sparkling bottled water or softened (artificially) water. The water is boiled to sterilise the water.
Leave the kettle to cool for 30mins.
Required volume of water needs to be measured (see side of formula milk) into a sterilised bottle. Boiling water should not be added to powder due to the risk of scalding. The right amount of water needs to be added to the formula to give the correct amount of feed, too much can cause weight gain and upset baby’s stomachs.
Use the scoop provided and level of the powder with the built in leveller. The scoop provided must be used as it gives the correct measurements of powder.
Add one scoop of powder to 30ml/1floz of water. The powder must not be pressed or heaped. As this can be harmful to the baby.
Replace the cap on the bottle.
Shake it well (for 10 seconds) to ensure all of the powder is dissolved. If the powder has not been dissolved there will be bits in the milk which the baby may choke on.
Get a sterilized teat and place it on the bottle. To check the temperature of the milk; do it on the inside of your wrist before feeding. Feed immediately. It is important to use a sterilised teat as potentially harmful bacteria would then enter the baby’s mouth and cause the baby to become ill. The temperature must be checked as if it is too hot will burn the baby’s mouth.
When baby has finished feeding, place any unwanted milk down the sink. Any milk which the baby has not drank must not be re-heated as re heating would cause bacteria to multiply and cause harm.
There are several ways to sterilise bottle feeding equipment these are:
Cold water sterilising- using liquid or tablets following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Steam sterilising- using and electrical steamer appliance, following the instructions.
Microwave sterilising- this should only be done with special microwave equipment with instructions.(not the best method as creates hot spots)
Boiling – by covering bottle completely in pan of cold water, boil it for ten minutes. Teats should be added for at least 3 minutes. Making sure there are no air bubbles in the bottles.
Different types of teats and bottles:
Basic bottles- come in two sizes the smaller ones (4oz) which is suitable for newborns who only take a small amount of milk and the larger ones (8oz) these are best for older babies who can easily take a large feed. They are cheap and easily available to buy, available in wide neck or standard. However babies can swallow air as they feed which can lead to colic.
Anti colic bottles- these bottles are designed so that the baby does not swallow as much air while feeding. On the other hand they do not work for all babies, are more expensive, not as available.
Steriliser bottles- can be expensive to buy however can be used on its own in microwave; it is also quick and easy to use.
Disposable bottles- are ready sterilised and come with a teat and lid. You just add milk and then throw away after use. They are good especially when travelling however they are only suitable for babies over 3 months and are expensive if used regularly.
Glass feeding bottles- made of heat resistant toughened glass and they are environmentally friendly and free of chemicals. These are not the best type of bottle though as there is a danger of the baby swallowing glass fragments, they are more expensive and less available.
Weaning is the process of gradually introducing a baby to foods into their diet in order to fulfil their growing nutritional needs. Weaning is best done in stages and done gradually as there is more to learning to eat than you may think. Weaning can be split into stages below I am going to describe the process of this below.
It is best to start weaning when the baby reaches about six months of age although all babies are different. All babies will be ready at different times some may need to be started earlier but not earlier than 4 months. Babies should not be rushed into eating solids, but do not delay weaning to far beyond six months as they will be missing out on important nutrients e.g. iron and vitamins.
Weaning a baby too soon is not good, as there body will not be ready to cope with food, other than breast or formula milk.
Someone should always stay nearby when the baby is eating to make sure that he or she doesn’t choke. It is important that cows milk is not suitable for babies under a year old.
Weaning should be started slowly! Before or after the baby’s usual feed or in between if the baby prefers offer one small plastic teaspoon of:
Smooth vegetable purée such as carrot, parsnip, potato or yam, or
Fruit purée such as banana, cooked apple, pear or mango, or
Cereal (not wheat-based) such as baby rice, maize, cornmeal or millet.
It is recommended to start with one teaspoonful although babies weaned at six months may take a considerable amount more. The food which is offered should be about the same thickness of single cream. It takes most babies some time before they will eat food from a spoon, so patience is required and it can get messy! Babies may cry between mouthfuls of food because up until now they have received food in a continuous flow whereas now they have frustrating pauses.
Babies should not be forced upon to take the food which is offered, if they will not take it the food, feeding should be stopped and tried again another time (it can take up to 12 times of offering a food before it is accepted). The idea at this stage is to get the baby to eat from a spoon, as they will still be getting their nutrition from breast or formula milk.
At this stage babies will still mainly be given breast milk or formula milk, but when both mother and baby are ready the amount of solid food given can be increased. At the same time feeding of solid food can gradually be increased from one feed a day to three feeds.
Full fat cow’s milk products can now be offered such as yogurt and cheese.
Now different foods and different tastes can be added. Lots of the foods the mother eats her self can be given but they just need to be given in a mashed ,sieved, or puréed form in small amounts, but salt, honey or sugar mustn’t be added.
Other foods which can be offered are: bread, pasta, barley, citrus fruits, well cooked eggs with solid yolks, cubes of cheese as ‘finger food’, fish and shellfish.
Each day the baby should be given 2 or 3 servings of starchy foods e.g. pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, 2 servings of fruit and vegetables and 1 serving of meat, fish, pulses.
Once the baby can hold things in their hands they will like to eat foods which are easy to pick up and eat these are known as ‘finger foods’. Soft finger foods should be offered e.g. toast, cheese cubes, cooked carrots, ripe peeled banana.
Solid foods are now a larger part of the baby’s diet which is why at this stage it is important to offer a wide range of different foods. This is so babies get all the minerals and vitamins they need, they should also still be having 500-600ml of breast of formula milk a day.
Two to three servings a day should be given of starchy foods such as potatoes, yams, rice or bread. Babies should have one serving of soft cooked meat, fish, egg, tofu or pulses such as beans or lentils (Dahl) a day. Red meat such as beef, lamb and pork is an excellent source of iron. Eggs (well cooked) are a quick, nutritious and cheap source of protein.
Babies are still continuing to develop so foods with a thicker consistency and a lumpier texture can be introduced to encourage them to learn to chew and manage small pieces of food, even if they don’t have teeth yet. Finger foods such as toast, bread, breadsticks, pitta bread or chapatti, peeled apple, banana, carrot sticks, or cubes of cheese are ideal to give. Sweet biscuits such as rusks should be avoided as babies will then get into the habit of expecting sweet snacks.
Meals should be started with solid foods and be finished with a drink of breast of formula milk. As babies start to eat more solids they need less and less milk, however it should be provided at waking and bedtime.
At this stage children are becoming increasingly more active. As babies become increasingly used to eating solid foods, they should be learning to fit in with the family by eating three minced or chopped meals a day, plus breast or formula milk as the main drink (around 500–600ml a day). They should also be given fruit or other healthy snacks between meals.
When babies are on the move, (he or she may have started crawling), the amount of food given needs to be increased. Babies have small stomachs and they need energy to grow, so make they will need full-fat dairy products. Cutting back on fat is sensible for adults, but not for babies or young children.
Foods to be avoided are: salt, honey, sugar and foods to be avoided up to the age of six months: eggs, shellfish, nuts and seeds, wheat based foods.