Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bottles don't have to be the Answer

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine emailed me for a favor. In her email she mentioned she had a week old baby who was struggling to nurse so she was finger feeding. Since finger feeding wasn't anything I had heard of before having my own baby, I thought I'd do a little post about it.

Finger feeding is a technique developed by Dr. Jack Newman and can be useful if you need to teach a baby to latch and don't want to use artificial nipples or a nipple shield. My friend was nursing as much as she could and also pumping to establish her supply. The baby wouldn't latch much of the time, so they were fingerfeeding the pumped milk when the baby refused to latch. Kellymom.com explains that using a finger can be most breast-like than a bottle

From Kellymom.com:

Finger feeding is much more similar to breastfeeding than is bottle feeding. In order to finger feed, the baby must keep his tongue down and forward over the gums, the mouth wide open (the larger the finger used, the better), and the jaw forward. Furthermore, the motion of the tongue and jaw is similar to what the baby does while feeding at the breast. Finger feeding is best used to prepare the baby who is refusing to latch on to take the breast. It should be used for a minute or two, at the most, just before trying the baby on the breast if the baby is refusing to latch on. Cup feeding is usually easier and faster when the mother is not present to feed the baby and is better to finish the feeding, if finger feeding is slow.
Kellymom.com also mentioned the cup. Newborns- even premies- can eat from a cup or spoon or medicine syringe. There are even products out there especially for the cup feeding of newborns and premies- who knew?

Anyway, I thought I'd share this. Look into finger and cup feeding. It's something I didn't know about and I thought you all might not know either.


  1. My first son would not latch for the first two weeks so we finger fed with a tube on the finger with a gravity milk thingy full of expressed milk.
    Keep it up if you are in that situation. It was very much worth it for us.

  2. That's interesting. I had heard of it, but not really anything about it. My lactation specialist didn't mention it. We used a bottle but held it sideways so that our son had to suck harder to get it out. We had terrible latch problems (compounded by thrush!)--maybe the finger technique would have been helpful.

  3. Huh! That might have helped Ariana very much indeed. So do you have a tube on the finger then? Wish I knew about this 12 months ago...

  4. Yeah- there's a tube. I think Ideally you'd used a SNS at the breast, but if they won't latch to that, then the finger with a tube is the next best.

    Kellymom references a study by Lang about cup feeding premies. I'd like to get a hand on that. If I do, I'll blog about it.

  5. We had to do finger feeding with a tube attached to a syringe until she figured out latching (3 weeks postpartum) it is no fun, but definitely worth it not having to do bottles, pumping or expensive formula, not to mention all the amazing benefits of breast milk!

  6. I've breast fed 4 kids, my first time around being premie twins. I didn't produce enough milk for them at first and for almost 4 months I had to suppliment. I did it by using a thing that I wore around my neck filled with milk and then tubes were taped to my breast and it forced them to suck (therefore giving extra stimulation) while getting fed through the tube. I know that using this verses bottles made it possible to breast feed them until they were 22 months old. If I would have started the bottle, then I would have given up with breastfeeding. My 3rd baby was no problem nursing, but then my 4th didn't know how to hold her tonge to get latched on deep enough. The lactation consultant had to teach me how to hold my finger in her mouth to train her to suck the right way. It was such a learning experience for me because I thought that after breastfeeding 3 babies I knew what I was doing. I would definitly stay away from the bottle if one wants to breastfeed. It just confuses the baby.

  7. Not heard of this but it's useful knowledge, and thank you for passing it on.


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