Whether you're a new mom or a seasoned parenting pro, breastfeeding often comes with its fair share of questions. Here are answers to some common inquiries that mothers — new and veteran — may have.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months. Beyond that, the AAP encourages breastfeeding until at least 12 months, and longer if both the mother and baby are willing. The WHO recommends that babies be breastfed for at least 2 years or longer.
Experts know that breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants. In some instances, breastfeeding (or exclusive breastfeeding) may not be possible or an option. The decision to breastfeed and/or formula feed should be based on comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical considerations.
Breast milk is all that is needed for about 6 months, at which time complementary foods are introduced. Most babies can exclusively breastfeed without the need for any formula. A mom who cannot provide all the breast milk her baby needs might be able to meet with a lactation consultant for guidance to increase her supply.
Babies who need supplementation may do well with a supplemental nursing system in which pumped milk or formula goes through a small tube that attaches to the mother's nipple, or can be temporarily fed the pumped milk or formula by bottle.
Some experts feel that giving bottles too early can create "nipple confusion," leading a baby to decide that the bottle is a quicker, better option than the breast. To avoid this, be sure that your little one has gotten used to and is good at breastfeeding before you introduce a bottle. Lactation professionals recommend waiting until a baby is about 3 weeks old before offering artificial nipples of any kind (including pacifiers).
It's important to remember that your baby's health and happiness is, in large part, determined by what works for you as a family. So if you need to supplement, your baby will be fine and healthy, especially if it creates less stress for you.
If you're using formula because you're not producing the amount of milk your baby needs, nurse first. Then, give any pumped milk you have and make up the difference with formula as needed.
If you are weaning from one feeding at the breast or from breastfeeding altogether, you can begin to replace the desired amount of breastfeeding or pumping sessions with bottle feeds. To eliminate a feeding at the breast or a pumping session, you should pump to reduce uncomfortable engorgement so you will not have problems with plugged ducts or mastitis.
As you eliminate breastfeeding sessions, your milk supply will decrease and your body will begin to adapt to produce enough milk to accommodate your new feeding schedule. Starting your breastfed baby on formula can cause some change in the frequency, color, and consistency of the stools (or poop). Be sure to talk your doctor, though, if your baby is having trouble pooping.
If your baby refuses formula alone, you can try mixing some of your pumped breast milk with formula to help the baby get used to the new taste.
If possible, you should have someone else give your little one the bottle at first. Why? Because babies can smell their mothers and they're used to receiving breast milk from mom, not a bottle. So try to have someone else — such as a caregiver or partner — give a breastfed baby the first bottle.
Also consider either being out of the house or out of sight when your baby takes that first bottle, since your little one will wonder why you're not doing the feeding as usual. Depending on how your baby takes to the bottle, this arrangement may be necessary until he or she gets used to bottle feeding.
If your little one has a hard time adjusting to this new form of feeding, just be patient and keep trying.
Although many women in the past started giving their babies solids early on, the AAP now recommends waiting until your baby is 6 months old before introducing any solid foods at all. Why? Because feeding solids earlier than that can increase the chances of your baby developing food allergies.
Breast milk provides everything babies need nutritionally until they start eating solid foods. Watch for signs of solid-food readiness, such as your baby's tongue-thrusting reflex subsiding and your baby having good head control and beginning to reach for other people's food.
Start with baby cereal on a spoon (rice cereal is usually the best to introduce first) before advancing to fruits and vegetables. But do not add cereal to your baby's bottle unless your doctor instructs you to do so. Cereal added to bottles can be difficult for young babies to swallow and can make them overweight.
Fruit juices shouldn't be given to babies. There is no benefit to offering juice, even to older babies. Juice can fill them up (leaving little room for more nutritious foods), promote obesity, cause diarrhea, and even put a baby at an increased risk for cavities when teeth start coming in.
And remember to never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
Reviewed by: Joseph DiSanto, MD, and Karin Y. DiSanto, IBCLC
Date reviewed: January 2012
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|La Leche League This international organization offers support, encouragement, information, and education on breastfeeding.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|WomensHealth.gov Developed by the U.S. Office on Women's Health, 4woman offers reliable women's health information.|
|Feeding Your 8- to 12-Month-Old At about 8 months old, babies start to explore table foods.|
|Nursing Positions If you're a first-time parent, breastfeeding your newborn may seem complicated. Check out this article for information on common nursing positions, proper latching-on techniques, and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat.|
|Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding Making a decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. There are some points to consider to help you decide which option is best for you and your baby.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Out and About Here are answers to some common questions about going out in public as a breastfeeding mom - from how to do it discreetly to taming sneaky leaks.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: How Much and How Often Here are answers to some common questions about beginning to breastfeed - everything from how often to nurse your baby each day to how to tell if your little one is eating enough.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Safely Storing Breast Milk Here are answers to some common questions about how to keep breast milk and how to clean and sterilize supplies, from bottles to nipples to breast pump parts.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Pumping Here are answers to some common questions about pumping your breast milk - from buying a pump to making the process a little easier.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Some Common Concerns Here are answers to some questions about common breastfeeding concerns - from biting to spitting up.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Your Eating and Drinking Habits Here are answers to some common questions about what breastfeeding mothers should and shouldn't eat and drink.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Sleep - Yours and Your Baby's Here are answers to some common questions about breastfed babies and sleep - from where they should snooze to when they'll finally start sleeping through the night.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand Here are answers to some common questions about your milk supply - from having too much to having too little.|
|Formula Feeding FAQs: Getting Started Shopping for formula-feeding supplies can be downright intimidating, especially at first. Here are answers to some common questions about formula feeding.|
|Formula Feeding FAQs: Preparation and Storage Check out these formula-feeding bottle basics, from how to mix bottles to how to store them safely.|
|Formula Feeding FAQs: Some Common Concerns Read about how to manage common formula-feeding concerns, from spitting up and fussiness to gas and milk allergies.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Pain and Discomfort Here are answers to some common questions about preventing and reducing breastfeeding discomfort, such as nipple and breast pain.|
|Breastfeeding FAQs: Getting Started Here are answers to some common questions about beginning to breastfeed - everything from latch-on to let-down.|
|Formula Feeding FAQs: How Much and How Often Get answers to some common formula-feeding inquiries, from how much newborns eat to what their diapers might look like.|
|Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old At this age, chances are your baby is ready to try a few solid foods.|
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