Infant feeding, including feeding a premature baby, requires skill, information, and patience. Parents must decide whether to feed their preemies breastmilk or formula, and may need to give feedback on which formula to choose. Once a feeding is chosen, parents may realize that their premature babies aren't able to take their feedings by mouth in the beginning, or aren't strong enough to take in enough milk to grow. Once premature babies do begin breastfeeding or taking bottles, parents may need to learn special tricks for getting their babies to breastfeed or bottlefeed well.
Breastfeeding a premature baby is one of a preemie mom's most important jobs. Although breastfeeding a preemie is not always easy, following these tips and suggestions will help get your preemie breastfeeding experience off to a good start.
Bottle feeding a preemie is very different from feeding a term infant. Unlike a baby born at term, a premature baby may be very sleepy at feeding times, may not be strong enough to drink enough milk to sustain growth, and may have a hard time swallowing and breathing at the same time. NICU nurses will help you learn how to bottle feed your preemie, using some time-tested tricks.
Pumping milk for a premature baby can be a challenge, especially if you feel like your milk supply is lower than it should be. Most moms can pump enough milk to nourish their babies by using these techniques.
Breastfeeding benefits for preemies are numerous, ranging from lower incidence of ear infections in breastfed infants to a little help with weight loss for mommies. Not only does breastfeeding a premature baby offer all of the same benefits of breastfeeding that a term baby receives, but a premature baby also receives several preemie-specific benefits of breast milk.
With the many infant formulas on supermarket shelves, mothers of preemies may be confused about the best type of formula for premature babies. Choosing a formula is definitely a decision that should be made with your neonatologist or pediatrician, but learning about the different products can help you and your doctor make an informed decision.
Sometimes the best advice comes from other parents of premature babies. Visit the links below to see what other parents of premature babies have to say about feeding their babies, or to share you've learned.
Bottle Feeding Your Premature Baby
What Helped Your Premature Baby Learn to Bottle Feed?
Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby
NICU Breastfeeding Tips and Suggestions
Did You Breastfeed Your Preemie?