Understanding Baby’s Hunger

If you’re bottle feeding with expressed breastmilk or infant formula, feed your baby whenever they show signs that they are hungry. Your baby has their own manual and you and your partner will start to learn all about them. This includes understanding their ques to help you know what they need.

You will start to recognise when your baby is hungry and also when they’re full. If you can spot these early signs before your baby starts crying or is unsettled, your baby will feed much easier as they will be calm – and you too. If your baby is upset, try soothing them before your start feeding. A cuddle and some skin-to-skin contact can really help.

Pregnant mother getting support from a peer supporter

It’s important to feed your baby responsively

Responsive feeding or baby-led feeding means responding to your baby’s needs, not getting distracted during feeding time and not encouraging your little one to over-eat or finish bottles of milk when they’re no longer hungry. This can mean your baby has too much for what their body needs. This can have an impact on their later health and weight as it can lead to obesity in later in life.

Signs to look out for when baby is no longer hungry are
  • closing their mouth,
  • turning their head away
  • or start to fall asleep when they’ve had enough milk

Infant milk choices and help

Breast and first infant formula are the only milks suitable for babies from birth. You can continue to use formula milk for the first year of your baby’s life, you don’t need to use follow on formula milk at six months. NHS.uk has information on the different types of formula milk available in the UK. The NHS website has lots of information and tips on expressing milk for your baby, by hand or with a pump, plus how to store milk and how to give the milk to your baby. Some mother who are breastfeeding want to mix feed or introduce a bottle for a variety of reasons. Here are some tips on bottle feeding a breastfed baby.

Want to learn about more ways to feed your baby? Check out our information below.

Your baby can take milk by lapping it from a small cup. This technique will need some practice to get right as well as patience as it can be a slower way to feed. It’s usually a short-term measure. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • It can be useful to wrap baby in a muslin cloth to make sure their hands don’t knock the cup and cause a spillage.
  • Hold your baby in an upright position on your lap.
  • Encourage your baby to open their mouth by gently stroking their top lip with your finger.
  • Place the cup towards the corners of your baby’s mouth, with the cup resting gently on their lower lip. Angle the cup just enough so the milk is just touching the lower lip.
  • Wait for your baby to lap the milk using their tongue.
  • Milk should always be at the rim when your baby is feeding. Never pour milk into your baby’s mouth.
  • Give your baby regular breaks but don’t take the cup away, just alter the angle of the cup to tilt the milk away from the rim slightly.
  • Your baby will stop feeding by closing their https://youtu.be/OkhSJ16FHfYmouth when they have taken enough milk

For more support on cup feeding this video will tell you more

This is a way for your baby to take small amounts of milk. It also stimulates the suckle reflex which can support with breastfeeding if your baby is unable to latch. As colostrum is thicker than regular breastmilk, using a syringe is a better way to give colostrum to your baby. Once breastmilk becomes more liquid it can be given through a thin medical grade tube.

  • Wash and dry your hands before beginning and use a new sterile tube each time.
  • Support your baby in an upright position.
  • Place the tip of the tube near the tip of your finger. You can tape the tube to your finger if needed.
  • Place the other end of the tube in the milk container or attach to a syringe using the adaptor, if provided.
  • Encourage your baby to open their mouth by gently stroking their top lip.
  • Once baby opens their mouth, place the pad of your finger to the roof of your baby’s mouth, taking care not to make your baby gag. If this happens, pull back your finger towards the front of your baby’s mouth.
  • Allow your baby to suck your finger and the milk will gradually be drawn along the tube.
  • Allow your baby to pause so they can pace the feed at a rate that is comfortable for them.

This video will tell you more about finger feeding.

A supplementer allows you to offer your baby extra milk at your breast. Also known as a nursing supplementer, it’s a thin medical-grade tube that’s attached to the side of the breast with medical tape. The tube is then attached to a syringe or bottle that contains milk. The other end goes into your baby’s mouth. As your baby sucks at your breast they are able to get extra milk from the tube.

Nursing supplementers may be used as a short-term aid on the way to full breastfeeding and can sometimes be used longer-term. They should be used with support from a breastfeeding specialist such as a lactation consultant or another health professional. Find out more at LLL.org.uk. 

NHS bottle feeding information

Find out more about bottle feeding, types of formulas and other help on the NHS.uk website