Breastfeeding is good for the baby. Breast milk provides important nutrients and protects against diseases. In addition, physical proximity and sucking movements have a calming effect on the infant. But breastfeeding also has advantages for the mother. You can read here what these are, how to position your baby correctly for breastfeeding, and what you need to bear in mind in everyday life.
WHAT IS BREASTFEEDING
Breastfeeding is a form of nutrition given by nature and optimally adapted to the physical development of the baby. If you and your child are healthy, you should try to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. According to experts, partial breastfeeding, i.e., a mixture of breastfeeding and giving bought baby food is better than not breastfeeding at all. It doesn’t matter whether you breastfeed straight away or pump the milk and give it in a bottle.
Ultimately, however, it remains the mother’s personal decision as to how she feeds her baby. Although breastfeeding has certain advantages, children also thrive on industrially produced infant milk.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
Breast milk is perfectly tailored to the needs of the newborn. It contains everything the baby needs for growth and healthy development. Premature babies or sick newborns in particular benefit from breast milk.
- Protection against diseases: fewer otitis media, diarrhea, and sudden infant death syndrome in breastfed children; less likely to be overweight later in life
- In the mother: accelerated regression of the uterus, faster elimination of stored water, lower risk of breast and faster elimination of stored water, lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer
- Breastfeeding connects: Skin contact and hormones promote the emotional bond between mother and child.
- Breastfeeding makes you happy: mood-enhancing hormones ensure relaxation.
- Breastfeeding saves time and money and protects the environment: breast milk is always available, at the right temperature, and hygienically “packaged.”
- Breastfeeding encourages bright minds: There is evidence that breastfed children have a higher average intelligence quotient (IQ).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF NIGHTTIME BREASTFEEDING FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS?
From a child development perspective, nighttime breastfeeding has several benefits:
- Breastfeeding at night and the associated physical contact stimulates the release of the breastfeeding hormone prolactin. This maintains milk production and produces more milk.
- With every breastfeeding, there is a release of the hormone oxytocin, which among other things strengthens the bond between mother and child.
- Children often fall asleep again quickly on the breast. Breast milk contains a larger amount of sleep-promoting substances in the evening and at night. The mother also calms down when breastfeeding and finds her way back to sleep.
- Children breastfed at night are breastfed longer overall and are therefore healthier.
- Because growth hormones are secreted more at night, and a child’s brain nearly triples in size during the first year of life, nighttime feeding supports growth and neurological development. In poorly performing infants, additional nighttime feedings help improve weight gain.
- Human breast milk, unlike milk from other mammals, is high in carbohydrates but low in fat and digested quickly. The composition of human milk and the small size of a child’s stomach demonstrate the importance of frequent meals.
- Children enjoy additional attention and physical contact when breastfeeding at night, which leads to an increased release of endorphins (so-called happy hormones) and supports their development.
- Breastfeeding encourages co-sleeping, which under safe conditions is associated with many advantages for the child but also for its parents.
- Nursed babies who sleep next to their mother are usually in a safe position, i.e., on their side or on their back.
- The risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is reduced by half in breastfed children. Nocturnal breastfeeding or sucking improves breathing and prevents dangerous apnea.
CAN YOU COMBINE BREASTFEEDING AND A BOTTLE?
There are probably many reasons why you are considering combining breastfeeding and a bottle. Be it because you are returning to work after maternity leave or you want to take care of feeding the child together with your partner. Is it possible to breastfeed and bottle at the same time?
ALTERNATE BREASTFEEDING AND BOTTLE FEEDING
Of course, there are a few things to consider when breastfeeding and supplementary feeding. Breast and bottle affect the baby very differently, whether you are feeding formula or formula. A child who is already breastfed must first learn to drink from the bottle.
Giving a bottle to a hungry baby without letting them know how to use the bottle can easily lead to frustration. The first time you bottle feed your baby, they should be relaxed and ideally about half-full: not too full, so they still have an appetite, but not too hungry, so they have time to adjust to the bottle. If you plan to return to work, introduce your baby to the bottle a few weeks beforehand. This way, you can ensure that there are no problems with bottle feeding while you are away.
Tips for breastfeeding and supplementary feeding
- Feed your baby directly at the breast in the morning and evening, and plan to bottle for the time in between. This is the most effective way to combine breastfeeding and the bottle.
- To give your baby enough time to adjust to the bottle, ideally, start alternating breastfeeding and bottle-feeding a month before you return to work.
- Are you breastfeeding and feeding baby food at the same time? Breastfeed whenever you can to keep your milk flowing. If your milk flow decreases throughout the workday, try occasionally pumping at work.
- Through breastfeeding, a baby develops a very intense bond with its mother. It can happen that the baby perceives the mother’s bottle as “fake goods” and rejects it. For an easier transition, you could let others try the bottle first instead of giving it yourself.
- When looking for the right bottle, go for one that has a breast-like teat so that the transition between breastfeeding and bottle feeding is as smooth as possible.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME FOR MOTHERS TO BREASTFEED?
To stick exactly to standardized “nutrition plans,” but rather to orientate oneself on the development of one’s own child. In general, I advise keeping breast milk as the main food during the first year of life. Not only does the child benefit from this, but also the mother.”
WILL BOTTLE-FEEDING AT NIGHT AFFECT MILK SUPPLY?
- MILK SUPPLY
Your breasts operate on a supply and demand basis. This means that whatever milk you remove from your breasts will be signaled to make more milk; thus, if you start offering bottles of formula at any point during breastfeeding, your breasts will not be signaled to produce milk.
According to Dr. Peter Hartman of the University of Western Australia, an ’empty’ breast (which is never completely empty) produces milk more quickly than a fuller breast. So, unless you additionally express at this time, offering a bottle of formula could jeopardize your milk supply.
- NIPPLE CONFUSION
To drink from a breast or a bottle, you must use a different tongue, jaw, and sucking technique. When your baby latches on to the breast, he must open his mouth wide, flange his lips, and pull the nipple deep into his mouth, all while his tongue’ milks’ the breast with rhythmic movements. When a baby is bottle-fed, he does not need to open his mouth as wide or flange his lips to form a seal, nor does he need to work to get the milk out – he can simply latch onto the teat’s tip. The baby may press his tongue upwards to block the flow of bottle milk if it is flowing too quickly.
This means that if you give your unnecessary infant bottles throughout the first four to six weeks, he or she may become confused by the various sucking actions. As a result, he may breastfeed less effectively, or he may prefer the bottle’s rapid flow over the breast.
THINGS TO MAKE BOTTLE FEEDING EASIER AT NIGHT
Body heat, eye contact, and being spoken to make feeding the little ones a pleasant experience. Then it’s time to make a “burp.”
- A GOOD SITTING POSTURE IS IMPORTANT.
It is best to sit in a comfortable chair with armrests or in the corner of the sofa and hold the baby in your arms, slightly seated. It can be even more comfortable with a footstool. Your child’s head should be resting in the crook of his arm. Babies always like to have their hands free so that they can reach for the bottle themselves. Eye contact is also important: When your child gets the bottle, it doesn’t just want to snuggle up and feel your body heat. It also wants to look at you and, in this way, communicate with you. Hold your child alternately in your right and left arms to stimulate both sides equally.
- THE SUCKER HAS TO BE RIGHT.
Drinking from the bottle requires a different technique than drinking from the breast. However, the conditions should be similar because babies like to suckle. Therefore, the shape of the teat and the size of the teat hole are important. It should only be large enough so that one drop per second drips out of the bottle held downwards. If the teat hole is too large, babies usually drink too quickly and swallow too much air. To prevent your baby from swallowing too much air, you should also hold the bottle at an angle, and the teat should always be full of food.
- YOUR CHILD DETERMINES THE LENGTH AND NUMBER OF MEALS.
In general, babies drink their bottle in about 10 to 15 minutes. Impatient people may be faster but swallow more air despite all the haste. As a general rule, a bottle feed should last as long as breastfeeding. If you can interrupt the meal without yellowing, a burp in between will do you good. Like breast milk, pre-food can be fed as needed, i.e., in many small portions – depending on the baby’s feeling of hunger. Don’t urge your baby to finish the bottle. They would only overfeed and strain it. Also, remember that hunger isn’t the only reason babies whine and cry. They are often simply looking for physical contact or something to do.
- A “BURP” RELIEVED
When the bottle is empty, it is best to put your baby on your shoulder with a burp cloth. The burp usually comes quite noisily, sometimes at the same time as some belched milk. This isn’t vomiting. Some babies burp several times depending on how much air they swallow. Especially in the first weeks of life, babies usually want to rest after meals. Lay your child on their back to sleep. New findings show that babies lying on their back are no more at risk from food that may come up again than babies lying on their side.
- THE MILK BOTTLE IS NOT FOR “SELF-SERVICE.”
If a child can hold the bottle alone, parents often think it’s great if they can let their child hold the milk bottle. For example, you can put it in the baby bouncer and let it suckle in front of you. But babies don’t think that’s great at all – they would much rather sit on your lap, be held, and be said something. But there is another reason why you shouldn’t let your baby use the milk bottle to “self-serve”: This way; it doesn’t even get used to constant and often uncontrolled sucking, which – even with infant formula – can cause Tooth decay in the milk teeth.
HOW LONG WITHOUT BREASTFEEDING WORKING AT NIGHT
At some point, every mother is ready for it. It’s good if you then know: There is a perfect time for breast weaning at night.
Breastfeeding a baby is wonderful. Once it works, the mom’s initial difficulties are quickly.
HOW BEST TO WEAN YOUR BABY AT NIGHT AT TEN MONTHS
- TAKE FAREWELL
Be aware: most mothers who want to stop breastfeeding cannot do without melancholy. Allow yourself these feelings – and if you wait a few more days/weeks to stop breastfeeding at night, then don’t stress about it.
- THE PERFECT TIME
The perfect time to wean at night? When the baby is ten months old. Why? Because then, purely physiologically, the baby no longer needs to eat at night. At that point, it usually already has several teeth – so evolution has planned for a child to be eating solid food it is almost a year old. The fact that babies still need physical contact during the night is a completely different story. Children of this age are still a long way from sleeping through the night.
- EVENING PORRIDGE MUST FILL YOU UP.
However, the prerequisite for the perfect time at ten months is: The baby gets enough complimentary food during the day, and – very important – the evening porridge is filling!
- BREASTFEEDING AT NIGHT INCREASES METABOLISM
Why should a toddler no longer be breastfed at night? Because you are always heating up the metabolism by breastfeeding at night: your child will wake up automatically because its metabolism is signaling “hunger!” to it. In fact, a ten-month-old child can go through the night without food.
- THE OLDER, THE MORE DIFFICULT
Anyone who waits longer to wean should be aware that weaning (at night or during the day) becomes more difficult as the child gets older. Unlike under-1-year-olds, an older child will vehemently demand his or her will. If that’s okay with the long-term breastfeeding mother: no problem.
- SLEEP BREASTFEEDING ALLOWED
If you finally want to have longer sleep phases again and therefore want to stop breastfeeding at night, you don’t have to stop breastfeeding until you fall asleep. And even a sip taken at the breast during the day does not contradict weaning at night.
- TWO OR THREE NIGHTS WILL BE TOUGH.
Are you ready to wean? Then let’s go: Usually, two to three nights are hard now. For you, for your partner, for the child. If he wakes up as usual and wants to drink, pick him up and carry him around (or your partner). Sucking is the strongest calming principle, but carrying comes right behind it – for years to come.
- WATER BOTTLES ONLY TEMPORARILY.
Bottles with tea or water are also allowed for the transition – but please without milk (keyword to heat up the metabolism!). You just have to be careful that the water bottle isn’t inserted permanently – otherwise, you’ll just replace your breast with the bottle, and neither you nor your child will have an uninterrupted night.
- THE CHILD CANNOT LAST MORE THAN EIGHT HOURS.
After a good eight hours, the night is over for a child who has just been weaned, and then it needs something to eat. Depending on when you fall asleep, this can also be very early in the morning! Incidentally, according to experts, this early meal can also be an abreast meal – or you can introduce a milk bottle that the father can also give.
- JUST THE CALM
Your child absolutely cannot be calmed down by carrying a water bottle or a pacifier? Then wait a few more weeks and then make the next attempt to wean at night.
WHAT IS BABY WATER?
Baby water is specially treated water – low in sodium and germ-free, making it ideal for preparing baby food.
BABY WATER INSTEAD OF MILK?
A key advantage of baby water is that it no longer has to be boiled. It is characterized by a low nitrate and sulfate content and is therefore specifically tailored to the needs of your baby. Too high a sodium content can be harmful to your baby’s small kidneys, as babies’ water balance is not yet able to process too many minerals. Sodium is a salt that is naturally found in water. When feeding your child, you should completely avoid salt in the first year of life. The reduced proportion of sulfate and nitrate is also extremely important because too much sulfate can have a laxative effect on babies, while nitrate can be converted to harmful nitrite in the body.
DRINKS IN THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE
Breast milk/baby milk is usually sufficient up to the third porridge. After that, water and unsweetened tea are the ideal drinks, preferably only from a cup.
MILK IS ENOUGH FOR BREAST AND BOTTLE BABIES.
In the first four to six months, your baby gets enough liquid from breast milk or formula. During this time, additional drinks are only necessary on particularly hot days if you have a fever or diarrhea – preferably tap water or unsweetened fruit and herbal tea. Breastfed infants should then be latched more frequently in order to cover the increased need for liquid through breast milk. Breastfeeding on demand creates enough breast milk to quench the baby’s thirst.
Tap water does not usually have to be boiled. But always let it drain until cold water flows out of the tap. Drinking water from lead pipes should not be used. Domestic well water should only be used if suitability has been verified. Tap water may have to be boiled abroad.
Even if your child can already grab and hold the bottle: Do not leave the bottle to your child to constantly suckle or as a sleeping aid. Severe caries, so-called baby bottle caries, can be the result.
WATER AND UNSWEETENED TEAS ARE THE FIRST CHOICES.
Tap water and still mineral water suitable for preparing infant formula are the preferred beverages during the first year of life and beyond.
If you want to give your child something to drink before starting complementary feeding, it is advisable to use special tea bags for infants. They are subject to special legal requirements for infant nutrition and are almost free of harmful substances and unsweetened.
When you start complementary feeding, you can give your child – in addition to tap or mineral water – the usual fruit and herbal teas to drink. However, medicinal herbal teas, such as chamomile tea, should only be given to your child when they are ill. Fennel, peppermint, and lemon balm tea should also not be given every day. For the essential oils contained therein, a harmful effect on health cannot be ruled out if used continuously. It is best to simply switch tea types.
Pour the tea with sparkling hot water and let it steep for five minutes. A tea bag in a cup of water is sufficient. The tea should then be cooled to body temperature.
Instant teas with added sugar are not recommended. Under no circumstances should they be offered for permanent sucking. Above all, the constant rinsing with the sugar solution can cause severe tooth decay – even if the teeth have not yet broken through.
EFFECTIVE PREVENTION IS POSSIBLE – RECOMMENDATIONS.
Experience shows that the measures recommended today to prevent sudden infant death syndrome are the right way to protect babies.
- THIS IS HOW YOUR BABY LIKES IT AND SLEEPS MOST SAFELY.
Thanks to today’s recommendations, based on numerous studies and the experience in other European countries, experts assume that almost 90 percent of these deaths can be prevented if parents follow a few simple preventive measures.
- ALWAYS SLEEP ON YOUR BACK.
In the first year of life, always put your baby to sleep on its back, never on its stomach. Lying on your side is also not recommended, as the baby can easily roll onto his stomach when sleeping. If your child can only fall asleep lying on his stomach, turn him over on his back after he has fallen asleep and try at intervals to see if he can’t fall asleep on his back after all. For example, if your baby falls asleep in the car seat, lay him on his back on a suitable surface as soon as you stop driving.
Previous concerns that babies who sleep on their backs are more at risk of having vomit down their windpipe have been clearly dispelled. Since the trachea is in front of the esophagus, this danger is even greater in the prone position because vomit then flows in front of the trachea. When the baby is awake, you should regularly lay him on his stomach so that he can “train” his back muscles and the back of his head does not flatten. But keep an eye on him, so he doesn’t fall asleep in this position.
- IN A SLEEPING BAG AND WITHOUT AN EXTRA BLANKET
To avoid covering your baby’s head with anything that can cause air retention or overheating, use a sleeping bag rather than a blanket. But make sure that the neck circumference is not larger than the child’s head so that it cannot slip into it. The correct length of the sleeping bag is calculated from the body size minus the length of the child’s head plus 10 to 15 cm for growing and kicking. Above all, the sleeping bag should not be too wide so that the child does not become entangled in it.
If you still prefer a blanket, it should be light and only cover the baby up to the chest. Place your baby in his crib so that his feet touch the foot end so that he cannot slip under the covers.
If you want to swaddle or wrap your child tightly, have your midwife or pediatrician show you the correct method beforehand. Children who are swaddled should only sleep on their backs. From the 6th month, you should no longer swaddle your child, as it can now turn, and the risk of sudden infant death increases.
For more information of better sleep routine, read “When Baby Connecting Sleep Cycles”, to understand the process of transferring sleeping routines.
- PROPERLY BEDDED IN THE MASTER BEDROOM.
In the first year of life, the cot should be set up in the parents’ bedroom because the even breathing sounds of the parents have a positive influence on the baby’s breathing regulation. At the same time, the closeness of the baby makes it easier for mothers to breastfeed at night, And so the parents can also notice irregularities in the baby’s breathing.
- NOT TOO WARM
Babies prefer it cool. For this reason, too, you should avoid pillows, duvets, nests, or skins in the baby bed! Contrary to the previous opinion that skins would ensure optimal temperature control, it has now been proven that skins can also lead to overheating in children’s beds. Hot-water bottles or heating pads also do not belong in the cot.
- IN A SMOKE-FREE ENVIRONMENT
Avoid smoking during pregnancy and the child’s first year of life. Ensure a smoke-free environment. Of course, this is especially true for the room where your baby sleeps because smoking is a significant risk factor.
- BREASTFEED AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
Breastfeeding nourishes the body and soul and strengthens your child’s vitality. If possible, try to breastfeed your child exclusively for the first six months and breastfeed as long as possible in the first year of life. The intense closeness is good for your baby, and it receives the best possible nutrition and valuable antibodies.
Experts have also shown that breastfed children wake up more easily and more frequently during the night, so the risk of respiratory arrest associated with being more difficult to wake up is less common in them than in non-breastfed babies.
Offer your child a pacifier to put them to sleep without forcing them to. A pacifier does not affect breastfeeding if breastfeeding has already become established (usually in the 3rd to 4th week of life) and, according to experts, leads to better breathing in the infant, which reduces the risk of sudden infant death.
HOW LONG CAN A CHILD BE BREASTFED?
The official recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) is that a baby should be exclusively breastfed for six months and then continue to breastfeed with the introduction of complementary foods until their second birthday or beyond. The Swiss Society for Pediatrics (SGP) deliberately formulates its recommendations openly and flexibly. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the desired goal. The individually adapted introduction of complementary food can and should be from the fifth month of life at the earliest at the latest at the beginning of the seventh month of life. It is advisable to continue breastfeeding after the introduction of complementary food for as long as the mother and child wish to do so.
You do not have to breastfeed for as long, but the breastfeeding relationship can last as long as is right for you and your child.
Many mothers no longer feel comfortable after six or twelve months at the latest if they are still (publicly) breastfeeding their child. Remarks that they don’t want to let go of their child or that their breast milk no longer has any nutritional value can be unsettling.
There are good reasons to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible: (long-term breastfeeding)
- Some of the health benefits of breastfeeding for the child depend on the length of the breastfeeding period (protection from infections, cancer, obesity, diabetes).
- Prolonged breastfeeding improves cognitive, language, and motor development.
- The emotional development of a baby and toddler benefits from breastfeeding, the associated soothing sucking, and physical contact.
- Breast milk does not lose value even after the first birthday and is still an important supplier of high-quality calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The amount of protective immune factors even increases again from the sixth month, which means that the child, who is becoming more mobile, continues to be well protected.
- Anthropological and evolutionary biological research confirms that long breastfeeding periods have been the norm in humans for thousands of years.
- Not to be forgotten are the health benefits that result from longer breastfeeding for the mother. Mention should be made here of protection against breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
- Sitting down or lying down to breastfeed can also be beneficial and relaxing for the mother in the often hectic everyday life.
When breastfeeding problems go unresolved, and the stress is affecting your relationship with your child, don’t feel guilty about stopping breastfeeding. Physical contact, carrying, and loving attention can strengthen the bond with your child even after weaning.