I have heard mothers express great frustration when trying to feed their baby while the infant is inconsolable. I often think of how I would feel if someone frantically approached me with dinner when I am having a breakdown. All I need is someone to hold me until I get over whatever trivial thing set me off and then we can think about a dinner date. So, mom, when your little angel is actively crying she probably won’t achieve a good latch. What should you do? It’s time for a hug, skin-to-skin time to be exact. She needs to reestablish her feelings of comfort and trust and then she can move on to dinner once she is a little calmer.
So, how do you know when to feed your baby? First of all, please don’t go by the clock but by her cues. Scheduled feedings do nothing for your milk supply. When your baby was in the oven, she had constant access to nourishment. She wasn’t relegated to a schedule. So, you will throw her and yourself for a loop if you decide that the clock should dictate her feedings (De Caravalho, Robertson, Friedman & Kalus, 1983).
Feeding Cues to Watch for…
- When she bats those precious eyes at you and puts her little fist to her mouth.
- Sucking and mouthing motions.
- Your little one may wiggle as if searching for something just beyond sight.
- If you caress your baby’s cheek, she may turn her head.
- Rooting motions.
- If your little one is in slumber-land, watch for REM or rapid eye movement. You will know she is in REM sleep when you see her eyes moving under her eyelids.
When you notice any of the above feeding cues, this is a good time to attempt breastfeeding. The best time to initiate breastfeeding is when your baby is in a quiet but alert state. This means that she isn’t experiencing frustration but absorbing the world around her. Sometimes babies pass from a quiet alert state into frustration and crying quickly. If this happens to be the case with your baby you could try initiating a feeding when she is drowsy and just slipping into an active state or even if she is in REM sleep (Caldwell et al., 2006).
Learn about feeding cues by watching this video…
De Carvalho, M., Robertson, S., Friedman, A., & Klaus, M. (1983). Effect of Frequent Breast-Feeding on Early Milk Production and Infant Weight Gain. Pediatrics, 72(3), 307.
Caldwell, K., Turner-Maffei, C., O’Connor, B., Cadwell Blair, A., Arnold, L. D. W., Blair, E. (2006). Maternal and infant assessment for breastfeeding and human lactation: A guide for the practitioner. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.