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I am going to start off by noting that the information in this article is of a general nature and not intended to replace the advice of your nurse, paediatrician, ear nose & throat specialist or speech pathologist....
Infants with complex feeding issues need to be appropriately assessed & managed by a qualified health care professional.....
In clinical practice, I find that a lot of the time, new parents are not shown how to bottle-feed their babies correctly in order to promote healthy oral, airway and speech development.
This is because a lot of us don't know that there is "a particular way" babies need to be bottle-fed......we tend to just stick the bottle into babies mouths and hope for the best!
The images in the slide show demonstrate common bottle-feeding positions which may compromise or enhance your baby's health.
YOUR BABY'S MOUTH & SENSORY DEVELOPMENT
Your baby's first experiences of life are centered around his or her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch & hearing, most of which are enhanced whilst feeding, eating and interacting.
It is well known that infants predominantly experience their world through their mouths. When newborn, babies will feed frequently and go through growth spurts, feeding even more frequently than usual.
Babies will progress to chewing on toys, then learning to grasp food and bring it to his/her mouth to taste, chew & feel different textures.
This is why babies tend to put anything and everything into their mouths when they have the opportunity to!
FEEDING AND YOUR BABY'S SENSES
When your baby looks at you, his or her visual perception is being refined.
Your baby is learning about your facial expressions, character, demeanour and mood, of which he will learn to mirror.
He or she is looking at your lips, hearing your voice, pitch and tone.
Your baby will be looking at you and copying you to learn how to use his/her lips and tongue in order to talk.
Your baby's lips, gums, tongue, cheeks and palate are learning to feel the teat of the bottle and anything else that goes into his or her mouth.
By learning how to drink and co-ordinate sucking, swallowing & breathing - these movements involve an intricately orchestrated series of nerves, muscles, joints and bones that are involved in feeding, breathing and speaking.
Now you can see that the very act of feeding is way more important to your baby's development than you ever thought.
YOUR BABY'S FEEDING POSTURE AND POSITIONING
Your baby's posture and position are vital in ensuring that feeding is a safe and positive experience for you and your baby.
It is important that your baby feels comfortable, secure and is able to suck, swallow and breathe comfortably.
When you hold your baby closely, on his or her side as though you are breastfeeding, his/her ability to co-ordinate sucking, swallowing, breathing is enhanced. Any fast flowing milk will sit in your baby's cheek and help to prevent your baby from choking.
FEEDING AND BEHAVIOUR
In enjoying his feed, not only will your baby learn to develop a great connection with you, but he will also be content after his feed.
Oxytocin, and cholecystokinin are the hormones that your baby will have him feel happy and relaxed with a full tummy......much like how we feel when we have a nice meal.
If you baby is unhappy during or after a feed, this will obviously in turn affect his or her mood and ability to sleep as well.
COPING WITH MILK FLOW & WHICH BOTTLE AND TEAT?
Despite all the marketing hype, there is no one bottle which has been clinically proven to be the best for bottle-feeding your baby.
Amongst those of us that have skills in supporting mum's and babies with feeding difficulties, we share our clinical experiences in what we find is the right bottle & teat for the right baby.
In a nutshell, the teat flow needs to be used as appropriate to your baby's age. This will be indicated on the packaging. If you are concerned about your baby's comfort whilst bottle-feeding, its important to discuss this with your baby's health care provider or you can locate a Speech Language Pathologist that specialises in Infant Feeding.
In fusing our knowledge about the complexities of feeding development, what makes sense is to ensure that your baby is feeding with comfort and enjoyment.
We also want to make sure that your baby's senses are being well developed. We also want your baby to learn how to use their mouth for optimal feeding, airway and speech development.
With this in mind, it makes sense that your baby needs to actively suck, swallow and enjoy feeding.
The gallery below has captions of which point out some important signs for you to know about.
BABY SIGNS OF UNHEALTHY BOTTLE FEEDING
If your baby is demonstrating unhealthy signs whilst bottle-feeding, it is important that you seek the advice and support of your Midwife, Child Health Nurse, GP, Paediatrician, Speech Pathologist or any other therapist specialising in paediatric feeding.