Every mother-to-be is well-meaning. We all set out to do the best we can for the tiny baby in our bellies and we all know how to take care of ourselves during the pregnancy. We attend our prenatal appointments, take all our supplements and eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Everything is done with the desire to nurture the baby that we are carrying. We follow the doctor's orders to the letter and we ensure that nothing we do harms the baby.
For those who are breastfeeding, we religiously follow the doctors' suggestion to exclusively breastfeed for six months and if we are formula feeding we give formula in the recommended portions.
None of us sets out to make a mistake when it comes to the baby. Most of us would pluck our own eyebrows before we would do anything to hurt that bundle of joy. But are all our well-meaning intentions good? Some of the things we do, even though done in good faith, wind up harming the baby we are raising. We may have read the books and the manuals and we come out of the hospital knowing what to do and how to raise the baby, but our desire to do the best for the baby sometimes ends up causing harm to the baby.
Below are 15 feeding mistakes that can happen with the newborn.
15 Feeding The Baby Every Time He Cries
When we are learning about how to take care of a newborn, most of us are told that the infant needs to be fed frequently to ensure he gains weight. We are also taught that crying is a cue for hunger. So, for those of us who prescribe to the feeding on demand school of thought, whip out the boob or the feeding bottle at the first cry. With this, the baby spends every waking minute feeding and more often than not crying because the more you feed the more likely he is to want to be fed -- just out of habit.
CNN Health says that if the baby is fed every time he cries, he will always expect to be fed, even if he isn’t hungry.
If a person eats too much they are bound to be uncomfortable and the same goes for babies. This is where the baby starts to get stomach issues and becomes inconsolable. Babies cry for various reasons and not all of them mean that the baby is hungry. He may cry because he is wet, cold or just requires a cuddle. Hunger is just in there, but it is not the only reason for crying.
14 Watering Down Formula To Save Money
Baby formula is very expensive. The cost is so off-putting that for women who had planned not to breastfeed, the thought of buying even one tin makes them reconsider turning nature’s way of feeding the baby. The cost is right up there next to diapers and in most cases, it becomes more expensive because as the baby grows the more he needs. For those on a fairly tight budget, affording a tin of formula is a real sacrifice.
Trying to feed the baby just one tin per week or less can be impossible, but trying to get more can really put a huge strain on the pocket.
This is where the ‘smart’ mother decides to water down the formula to save a few bucks. What this parent does not realize is that the formulation that is recommended on the tin is meant to be followed for a reason. Watering down the formula may fill your baby’s belly, but he will not be getting the right nutrition and his growth, both physically and mentally, could suffer. It could also give the baby diarrhea. Watering down the formula is also rather short-sighted. Since the baby is not getting the right amount of food, he will become hungry faster and start crying sooner than if the parent had fed him properly.
13 Not Sterilizing The Bottles
Babies are delicate little creatures that need our help to survive. While the newborn has some immunity to survive the germs in the home passed down from the mother, the baby still needs some protection from the tougher germs. Sterilize all of the bottles you have before you use them. Feeding bottles can be a source of bacteria, especially the nipple. There are several ways to sterilize baby bottles and nipples.
Among them are boiling in a pot of water, boiling in water in the microwave, or putting in the dishwasher where they will be cleaned with scalding hot water. It is important to make sure that any milk residue is removed from the bottle and especially the nipples. There are also devices on the market that are specially designed for sterilizing baby bottles.
Bacteria that are passed to the baby through the bottles can lead to diarrhea, which is the number one risk to infants.
Diarrhea dehydrates the baby and erodes the electrolytes in his system leading to death. It is, therefore, a good idea to maintain a very high level of cleanliness when dealing with infants. It is always best to rinse a baby’s bottle as soon as they are finished with it to avoid any milk from drying on it, making it harder to remove.
12 Heating Formula In The Microwave
No one likes to keep heating water on the stove, cooking or spending the whole day in the kitchen. This can be quite irritating, especially if the person in question is sleep deprived and tired. What a new parent should know is that the baby’s health comes first.
Use of the microwave to heat the bottle, according to Pint-sized Treasures, kills vital minerals and vitamins and can cause hotspots in the milk that cannot be seen when looking at the milk and this may scald the baby. While using the microwave is tempting because it is fast, never use it to heat your baby’s bottle. When your baby is screaming for his feeding it can be difficult, but just think how he will scream if the mild scald his little mouth.
It is important that one uses the safer methods of heating baby’s bottle. If you must use the microwave, use it to heat a bowl or large mug of water and then set the bottle in it to warm. Another way is to place the bottle over hot water and pouring hot water over the bottle. The other method could be to heat the bottle over the stove slowly in a pot of boiling water. Before you begin to see bubbles start to form you should remove the bottle. With any of these methods, be sure to shake the bottle a bit to distribute the heat and then test it. There are also bottle warmers on the market that can be conveniently used to heat the bottle.
11 Mass Prepping The Bottles
When a woman is traveling with a newborn, she has to carry the formula, the formula bottles, the baby clothes, the diaper bag and the baby and suddenly the woman is a super mom. The woman is so tired and overloaded that all she wants is a nice outing that does not include another bottle of water or bottle warmer.
This is where the woman gets the genius idea to make all the feeding bottles at once. This can be fine if the bottles are going to be refrigerated for the day, but not if mom is going to be out and about.
While it would be perfect to make all the feeding bottles at once and just pull out a warm bottle to feed the baby, this idea is all wrong. Unlike breast milk, baby formula is unsafe after two hours of preparation at room temperature. Reduce some of the luggage, but do not compromise on the baby's health. Make formula when feeding the baby and reduce chances of infections. When you plan to be out for the day, go ahead and make up the bottles with water. Put the amount of powdered formula that you will need in a plastic container or plastic bag and mix the formula when it is needed.
10 Burping Only When It Is Convenient
A baby’s digestive system is still underdeveloped and he is prone to stomach upsets. When a baby is suckling, either the bottle or is being breastfed, he swallows a lot of air. It is therefore advisable to burp the baby after every feeding by placing him on your shoulder and rubbing his back or giving him a small thump on the back using one hand. According to Parents.com, a burp is when gas is released from the stomach and it travels up the esophagus and straight out of the mouth.
Some babies require a lot of burping as opposed to others. Bottle fed babies are more prone to swallow air than a properly latched breastfed baby. When the air is stuck in a babies belly, it can be quite uncomfortable and painful. When breastfeeding it is advisable to take breaks in between breasts to burp and remove air.
For bottle-fed babies, it’s a good idea to try to burp the baby about halfway through the bottle. Stuck air prevents the baby from eating enough food and by extension, he does not get enough nutrients and nourishment. A well-fed baby goes through its milestones on time and gains weight well.
9 Letting The Baby Sleep With A Bottle
It may simply be unsanitary and gross for a grown person to eat in bed, but it is downright risky for an infant. When a baby is left to sleep with a bottle, it is usually because the baby is falling asleep already, but as soon as mom or dad tries to take it away, baby pops his eyes open. If this happens you might try replacing the bottle with a pacifier, but leaving the bottle with the baby is not recommended. Leftover juice or milk can be harmful to a baby’s gums, as well as cause cavities in the baby’s teeth. Even if the baby doesn’t have teeth yet, milk sitting on the gums can allow bacteria to form and break down the gums, leading to gum disease even before your baby has even had a chance to chomp down on something.
This is not the most dangerous parts of a bottle in bed, however.
Leaving the baby with a bottle with no supervision can lead to choking.
It is advisable to first feed the baby until he is full, burp him, then put him to bed. If one has to prop up the bottle with a pillow or blankets, the baby could roll over and suffocate.
8 Using Plain Tap Water
There are moms who are obsessed with keeping the baby healthy. The mom who scrubs and scrubs a surface before she can place her child down; the mom who can never give the baby anything that is not doctor approved; the mom who follows the instructions on the formula tin to the letter and would never dream of doing anything to the contrary. That is the mom who knows that she should not use water from the tap or the well and put it straight into her babies food.
Water can be sterilized at home in a very simple way. Get some water and boil it in a large bowl or saucepan for 15 minutes, then cool it to room temperature before you mix it with the powdered baby formula. Or, if that is too inconvenient, simply buy distilled or purified water at the store. It’s fairly inexpensive.
While tap water is okay for adults, you must remember that a baby doesn’t have all the built up antibodies and immunity that we do. Their digestive system is new and the slightest thing could set it into having problems. Tap water comes with a lot of impurities and it should not be used in the formula without sterilization.
7 Recycling And Reusing Formula
For those of us who do not have deep pockets, if there is a way to save a few dollars, we take it. As much as it is okay to save, especially when one has an infant who requires a lot in terms of formula, diapers, and medical expenses, it is not a good idea to compromise on the baby's well-being. Babies never seem to finish their bottle or baby food and for the budget conscious mom, it is easy to get tempted to keep some of the food and reuse it later. They figure that putting it in the fridge and then rewarming later should be okay.
However, this is a bad idea. The bacteria in the baby’s mouth is likely to go into the formula, sit there and pose some health issues to the newborn.
Discard all leftover milk and make a new batch for the next feeding. It is easy to tell how much a baby consumes at one time and this could be a way of reducing the wastage. The same goes for uneaten baby food. Baby’s saliva, along with any bacteria gets into the food with every spoonful. Not only will this break down the leftover food, it can lead to an upset stomach or even diarrhea.
6 Not Checking The Expiry Dates
Food poisoning occurs because we often do not pay attention when it comes to that tiny human, but food poisoning can have devastating effects on him. Just because one goes into a store and buys a can of formula does not mean it is in perfect condition. Even though they know that expired goods and especially baby food, should be removed from the shelves immediately, many unscrupulous store owners do not adhere to this basic principle. Then there is the well-meaning retailer who just forgets to keep track of what is expiring when. They simply are not paying attention and don’t check the products in a timely manner.
If a mother just scoops up the formula or baby food without checking the expiration date, she may get an unpleasant surprise when her baby gets ill or simply spits it out because it tastes bad.
All canned food has a tendency to lose its nutritional content eventually and baby formula is no different. Also, as with any type of canned food, one should ensure that the formula tin is not bent or dented, as any sort of damage could have allowed bacteria to enter the can and will pose a health risk to the baby.
5 Failing To Pre-Burp
Just like burping a baby, while, during or after feeding, pre-burping the baby is equally as important. Especially if the baby has been crying. Babies swallow a lot of air and air in the tiny stomach means that it is always almost full. If the baby feeds without first pre-burping he is likely to not get enough of the nutrients he needs. He is likely to stop feeding too soon because he feels full or uncomfortable. Just like a grown-up, if gas is left to rest in the stomach for long, it can be very painful and if a baby has colic, it aggravates the situation by adding air to what is probably already an overextended digestive system.
Pre-burp the baby before every feeding and then burp in the middle of each feeding to ensure that he gets enough of the good stuff he needs and most of the gas comes out.
A baby without gas is a happy baby and a happy baby translates to happy parents.
Which is a plus for anyone who has ever had an infant. Babies without gas sleep better and cry less. Admit it, we all feel better when we burp if we feel the need to. However, a baby isn’t old enough to burp on their own without some help.
4 Having No Feeding Plan
There is this thing that most of us rely on: It is called feeding on demand. This is where we wait for the baby to wail as some sort of alarm to indicate he is now hungry. While this is a pretty solid idea, a new mom needs to know that babies do not just cry out of hunger. After the delivery, it takes a while for the milk to come and even after the milk comes, it takes a bit of time for the new mom to get the hang of it.
Health practitioners should not assume that the mother has any idea of what to do or when to feed the child. Sometimes the woman is so tired that all she wants is to catch some sleep and it is during that time that the baby may go hungry. Newborns need to eat every 3 to 4 hours in order to thrive. However, some babies are great sleepers and will sleep beyond four hours.
If this is the case, you need to wake the baby up and feed him. As the baby gets older, the feeding time can stretch to 5 to 6 hours. By that time, you should have become accustomed to your baby’s eating habits. Making a plan of how to feed and when will eliminate guesswork as far as the feeding is concerned and it will free up some time for the mother to rest and the baby will not starve or be overfed.
3 Ignoring Oral Problems
There are women who are handed their bundle of joy in the hospital and when they get home the baby just won't suckle despite their best efforts. These women are left wondering what could be wrong with themselves or their child and it is even more devastating when the baby seems to lose more and more weight. If this is happening, it is imperative that you visit the baby’s doctor to determine the reason the baby is not thriving.
There are several reasons a baby is not growing and thriving.
Of course, the main reason is that he is not getting enough nutrients. But find out the reason for this is important. In some cases, it could be that the baby has a tongue tie, which makes it difficult for the baby to suckle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a tongue tie is a bit of extended tissue that is usually found on the underside of the baby's tongue that limits the tongue’s movement, making it difficult for the baby to lift its tongue and nurse. A tongue tie can be remedied in the hospital and most health practitioners rectify the anomaly before the baby leaves the hospital. This is better since newborns seem to heal faster.
2 The Soiled Nappy Indicator
The question most women ask when they have a baby is ‘how will I know my baby is getting enough?’ Breastfeeding is usually a ‘hidden’ affair because there is no way to really tell how much the baby is taking in. It’s not like a bottle where you can clearly see how much the baby has left behind. Most women are worried that they could be holding a baby to the breast and he is not getting enough. Most of us are told that as long as there are enough soiled nappies, then the baby is getting full. Studies, however, indicate that this may not be accurate and that the number of wet nappies may be misleading.
When breastfeeding, mothers are advised to breastfeed for more than 15 minutes on one breast to ensure the baby is getting the rich hindmilk that is necessary for the growth of the infant, as well as ensuring that he gets healthy brain growth. While most parents will swear that there are more than enough wet diapers to change, knowing how many indicate enough is important. The nappy indicator is a good method and should not be discarded, but it should not be completely relied upon either. There is also baby growth to be considered as an indicator that he is getting enough.
1 Starving The Breastfed Baby
Every woman alive wants the best for her child. A woman who plans to breastfeed attends birth classes and breastfeeding classes and follows what the older women in the society advise. They leave the hospital having been taught how to hold the baby and how to help the baby latch on to the breast so as to get the most out of the feeding and to protect mom’s tender breasts. So these women think they are doing the right thing and that they are feeding the baby right. However, sometimes doing everything right results in a wrong outcome. This is usually because there are things going on beyond our vision that we cannot control.
According to Kidspot, a mother named Mandy tells the story of her struggle with breastfeeding and how her baby would lose weight despite her many efforts to breastfeed, She took lessons from a lactation expert and pumped milk and supplemented with formula. In the end, all her efforts were naught because her son was starving, not gaining wait and definitely not thriving.
Just because the baby is on the breast all the time does not mean that the baby is getting enough. Her baby was often fussy before and especially after feeding. For whatever reason, her baby simply was not able to get enough milk, although her breasts appeared to have enough. Perhaps it was just too difficult for the baby to suck, as it can be difficult for some infants. If you find yourself in a similar situation, talk to your pediatrician for your peace of mind and for your baby’s health. It really is okay to bottle feed.