Well done on continuing to breastfeed your baby!
By this stage many babies are becoming a little more efficient and may be taking less time to feed. This doesn’t mean your baby is taking less milk, just that he is getting bigger and stronger and you are becoming more confident and releasing your milk well.
At this stage many babies also start to sleep longer at night if they are feeding regularly and well during the day. Feeding during the night is good for milk supply but it doesn’t mean your baby has to be up and about! Keep the lights low, keep the night time atmosphere and put your baby back down as soon as he has finished feeding. Most babies need to feed once or twice at night until they start on solid foods at around 6 months old.
You may now also be feeling more confident about feeding your baby outside the home. Babies love to get out and see the world and it’s great for mum too. As your baby becomes more of an expert feeder you can be more relaxed about your feeding position so practice some ‘on the go’ feeding positions at home first to boost your confidence. Mothers all over the world are keen to breastfeed their babies, and the more that mums are seen feeding their babies out and about the more commonplace it will become again so get out there!
As your baby grows, he will go through ‘growth spurts’ and this means that he will need you to produce more milk to meet his needs. Babies who are going through a growth spurt may appear to be hungry and unsatisfied with feeds. It can take a couple of days but allowing your baby to suckle more frequently and for longer is the best way to increase your supply again and take you both on to the next stage. Sometimes mums feel less confident in their body’s ability and might offer formula milk instead – be patient if you can and give your body a chance to ‘catch up’ with your baby. We know from research that low milk supply is one of the main reasons why mothers stop breastfeeding at this stage. Managing growth spurts when they happen is an important way to continue breastfeeding for longer. Having a supply of breast milk in the freezer for those times when your baby is having a growth spurt and you have been feeding all day, is a great way to satisfy your baby’s hunger and give you a chance to rest.
If you are going back to work at 3 months it is important to think about your baby’s feeds now. By starting to express and store milk regularly once breastfeeding is established you give yourself more flexibility as you and your baby get used to the new routine. Introducing a bottle (even just once a day or every other day) to your baby by about 8 weeks means he is less likely to refuse to take it when you need him to. It’s a good idea to talk to your manager or colleagues before you go back and find out where you can go in private to express and store your milk while you are at work. In many countries, employers have a responsibility to make this provision so do look into this.
At around 6 months of age your baby may show signs of being ready for other foods as well as milk. Continue to offer your usual breastfeeds, or formula feeds if you are not breastfeeding, and introduce simple foods like fruits, vegetables and cereals first. Moving onto solids is an exciting time, a big step to take, and there is lots of good advice on introducing foods at the right time, and different approaches, either pureeing food or following baby-led weaning.
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