It's no secret that feeding can be stressful for new parents and sometimes a mind field. There are plenty of questions to ponder: How often should your baby be fed? When will they be in a routine? Have they had enough Nourishment?
The good news is that your baby is the single best authority and will tell you when they want to be fed and when they are simply tired. Following and understanding your babies needs will help you cope better and have a more enjoyable experience. His internal regulator for hunger and fullness is fine-tuned to his particular energy needs. That's why rigidly counting the ounces of formula or the number of minutes per breast-feeding session isn't the best way to calculate how much is enough. Instead, pay attention to his cues; his behavior will tell you when he's hungry and when he's sleepy.
We have put together a simple list of some key tell tale signs that will help you understand your babies cues:
Signs for Hunger:
- Crying. A hunger cry is usually short, low-pitched, and rises and falls a bit like a "Neh" or a "Nah" sound caused by the sucking action, you will start to recognise the different cries. But crying is actually one of the later signs of hunger, You will notice some of the below cues first.
- Rooting. During your baby's first weeks, when you stroke his cheek, his natural reflex will be to turn toward the bottle or breast and make sucking motions with his mouth. After 4 months of age, rooting becomes a voluntary action rather than a reflex.
- Hand to mouth Reflex. You may notice your baby will suck their hands (or anything that is lose by), this is your baby's way of telling you they are ready to eat.
- Timings. There are no rules to this question, most parents will question timings, you may of just feed your baby and they are showing signs of being hungry again, thats OK and perfectly normal. Your childs feeding habits will change sometimes day to day especially in the first few months as they are going through a growth periods these will slowly stat to follow more of a routine from 3monhs+
If you are breastfeeding you may want to consider expressing your milk for certain feeds so your partner can support allowing you to get some essential rest. There are some great Breast pumps on the market even double pumps (which help save time)
If you are bottle feeding or combi feeding (breast and bottle) I used two products which I wouldn't be without:
- Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine: I literally took mine everywhere and at night this took pride of place on my bedside table.
- MAM Anti-Colic Bottles - These have to be the best bottles I have found on the market, even if your baby doesn't suffer from colic for two simple reasons. Firstly they come apart into 6 separate pieces making them very easy to clean & get into every bit of the bottle. Secondly the best part they self steralise, Yes Self Strealise, you simply need to add water and pop them in the microwave - meaning they are great for when you are travelling too and you don't need a strealiser taking up space in your kitchen.
Signs For Sleep:
Sleep is an essential part of your baby's development, there is a lot happening in those little bodies, so as a parent you want to ensure you are meeting your baby's needs in this aspect. The cues to watch out for:
- Yawning. This is the most obvious one you will recognise, but there are some more subtle signs
- Rubbing their eyes.
- Covering their Ears.
- Frowning or looking worried.
- Crying. Sleepy babies may make more of a "whah" or "owhah" sound
When putting your baby to sleep our tips would be:
- Start with some quiet time. as little stimulation as possible will help them nod off quicker.
- Have a set area where they sleep. This will help them feel comfortable.
- Closing curtains and Blinds. Helps them stay asleep for longer
- Playing music quietly. This will help with background noise, I found playing some white noise (on low volume) was actually soothing for my baby.
Please remember to trust your instincts and if you feel necessary consult your local healthare provider, they are there 24 hours a days to help answer your questions. They are happy to support and its always re-assuring to get some expert advice to help settle your concerns.