What do I need to know about infant feeding?

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2010 01:27pm
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In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. 

In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. This can cause confusion for expectant and new parents who have many decisions to make, not the least of which is how to feed their baby.

Fact: Newborns need to eat often - at least every 2 to 3 hours
Newborns need to feed at least every 2 to 3 hours because their stomachs are small. A day-old baby’s tummy can hold about 5-7 ml (1-2 tsp) of milk; by 3 days 22-30 ml (.75-1 oz); and by 7 days 22-60 ml (1.5-2 oz). So, it doesn’t take a lot to fill their tummies and their tummies need to be filled often because they empty often. As your baby gets older, feeding tends to be more like every 3 to 4 hours, but will become more frequent again during growth spurts—at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Breast milk is also very easily digested and with small stomachs baby needs to eat frequently.

Fact: There are ways to determine that your baby is well fed and hydrated.
It’s true that you cannot measure the amount of milk your baby drinks during breastfeeding. But the important thing is recognizing that your baby is well-fed and hydrated. In the first months your baby will:

  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Continuously suck and swallow for at least 10 to 20 minutes during breastfeeding.
  • Have at least one wet diaper for each day of age up to 3 days. After day 4, there should be at least 6 to 8 heavy wet diapers each day. A heavy diaper feels like 40-60 ml (2-3Tbsp) of liquid on a cloth or disposable diaper.
  • Have at least 2 to 3 stools each day; by day 3 there should be at least 3 stools per day. Some breastfed babies pass stool every time they’re fed, meaning 10 to 12 stools per day, which is normal, too.
  • Have a moist look to their mouth - as if they were wet.

If, your baby is not showing these signs, your baby is becoming dehydrated and needs immediate medical attention. Take your baby to the hospital emergency.

Fact: Dry skin, a sunken soft spot on baby’s head and dry mucus membranes are also signs of dehydration.
These are late signs of dehydration in your baby, your baby needs to be in hospital and getting medical care. The soft spot on the top of a well-fed baby’s head should be flat and not sunken. Skin that is dry and does not have much elasticity indicates that your baby is not getting enough fluid. Gently pinch the skin on your baby’s thigh or tummy and let it go: it should lie back down, not remain pinched together. Mucus membranes should be moist or wet.

Fact: Babies under six months do not need baby food.
The recommendations from Health Canada on infant feeding indicate that solid baby food be delayed until your baby is six months old. By six months, your baby’s stores of iron start to diminish. Before six months your baby’s bowels are still maturing and the muscle coordination in your baby’s mouth, head and neck are not developed enough to manage solid food. Giving solid food to early may lead to the development of food allergies and obesity.

Fact: Breastfeeding allows you to bond with your baby.
Breastfeeding is a good way to bond with your baby but it isn’t the only way. Dad or your partner can have the same skin-to-skin contact by placing your baby, dressed only in a diaper, on his bare chest. Include snuggling, talking, singing and reading in your everyday routines with your baby as these are other ways that you and others can use to bond.

Fact: Colostrum is baby’s most important first food.
Colostrum, the yellow or orangey-coloured first milk, is considered the perfect first food for babies. It is easily digested, low in fat, high in carbohydrates, high in proteins and contains antibodies to keep your baby from getting ill. This first milk helps to protect your baby’s tummy and bowels. It also helps her to poo in the first few days after birth and may help prevent jaundice.

Fact: Breastfeeding takes time for you and baby to learn.
Although breastfeeding seems like the most natural thing in the world, this doesn’t mean that it will all fall into place naturally for every mom and baby. It is a learned art and it may require time and patience to learn. However, there is a lot of support available to you, beginning with the nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital, to public health nurses and breastfeeding clinics in the community and the La Leche League hotline 24 hours a day. The payoff? Never having to wash, sterilize, prepare, store and transport bottles for the next year. Just breastfeed whenever and wherever your baby needs to feed. What could be easier?

Fact: Small-breasted women are able to breastfeed.
Breast size has nothing to do with a woman's ability to breastfeed. In fact, larger breasts are due to more fat tissue. Breast milk is made by special milk-producing cells, not fat cells.

Fact: Most women make enough milk to breastfeed.
Most women make more than enough milk to breastfeed their babies. Early and ongoing breastfeeding guidance and support can help to avoid poor latching, the main reason for a low milk supply. Short and infrequent breastfeeding may also cause low milk supply. In rare cases, some women have a medical condition and may be unable to breastfeed.

Fact: Women who have flat or inverted nipples are able to breastfeed.
Latching your baby onto the breast may be more of a challenge with a flat or inverted nipple but it is possible. Your baby needs to have as much of the areola, the brown part around your nipple, in her mouth as possible in order to drink your breast milk. So, although your nipple helps to guide this process, it is not absolutely necessary to it. Once the areola is in your baby’s mouth, the nipple will come out as she sucks.

Fact: Breastfeeding should not cause pain.
Although the first weeks of breastfeeding may cause nipple tenderness – after all, this is new – there should be no pain during breastfeeding. Pain is usually the result of an incorrect latch. Correcting the latch should ease the pain. If pain persists during feeding, however, consult your a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor. A lactation consultant is a specialist in breastfeeding. Some moms and babies share a yeast infection that requires both mom and baby to have treatment.

Fact: Women who have had breast surgery may be able to breastfeed.
A woman’s ability to breastfeed will depend on the type of surgery and the part of the breast that’s involved. For example, if the areola and/or nipple were affected, there is a greater chance of problems with breastfeeding than if the surgery was in a different area of the breast. Speak with the doctor who did the surgery they may help you to understand what part of the breast was affected from the surgery.

Fact: You do not need to wash your nipples before each feeding.
Washing your nipples before feeding your baby is not necessary. Frequent use of soap and water will dry your nipples out. Leaving breast milk on your nipples, on the other hand, protects your baby from infection and promotes healing of any soreness and cracks that may have developed.

Fact: Breastfeeding can be done at anytime, in anyplace and needs no special equipment.
In many ways, breastfeeding is liberating—it can be done anytime, anywhere and without any special equipment. It means you don’t have to clean and prepare bottles, which takes time. It means you can take your baby with you without having to carry formula. It is always at the right temperature, you do not need to worry about having to heat it or find a place to warm your baby’s food. It does mean you are the sole provider of food for your baby for the first 6 months. It all depends on your perspective.

Fact: Mothers are allowed to breastfeed their babies in public.
If you are comfortable breastfeeding your baby in public, there is no reason why you shouldn’t. In fact, it is a human right. This means that breastfeeding moms and babies are welcome to nurse anywhere, anytime. No one can tell them not to breastfeed. Some communities post signs to openly acknowledge that they are breastfeeding friendly.

Fact: Breastfed babies do not need extra fluids, like water and juice, in hot weather.
Breastfed babies do not need any other liquids, even in the summer heat. Breastfeed your baby more frequently to keep her hydrated in hot weather. Other liquids may fill your baby without providing the nutrients that breast milk provides and that your baby needs. It is especially recommended that babies under six months of age not be given juice and water.

Fact: A woman can use breastfeeding to help with child spacing.
This method is known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM). Breastfeeding can be used for child spacing but only under the following conditions:

  • Your baby is under six months of age
    Your baby is exclusively breastfed and you are feeding her at least every 3-4 hours
    You have not had a menstrual period.

This is not fool-proof, though. Sometimes, your baby sleeping through the night can have an affect on this method. You may therefore want to use another type of birth control.

Fact: You do not need a special diet if you are breastfeeding.
It is recommended that nursing Moms eat a well-balanced diet, for their own health and for recovery from pregnancy and birth. Your body will produce milk, even if you occasionally consume fewer calories than recommended, provided this is not long-term.

Fact: You do not need to drink milk to breastfeed.
Although milk is a good source of calcium you will continue to make milk, even if you do not drink milk. There are other foods you can eat to obtain calcium. Continue to make sure you are drinking enough fluids during the day. If you are experiencing thirst, you are not taking in enough fluids.

Fact: In most cases you can breastfeed if you are ill.
With the exception of HIV, mom should continue to breastfeed during illness, even if this illness is mastitis. Generally speaking, people are contagious before they actually become ill, so that a baby would have already been exposed. Breast milk contains antibodies and other infection-fighting substances. By continuing to breastfeed your baby, you will continue to pass these on. If your baby becomes ill, chances are the illness will be mild due to the protection that breastfeeding offers.  

Fact: You should check if it is safe to take medicine when you are breastfeeding.
There are few medications that may require you to stop breastfeeding. Most medications are not a concern. Check with Motherrisk if you have concerns about any drugs. They have the most current information. Read medication information and consult your pharmacist with any questions or concerns

Fact: Exercise does not affect the breast milk.
Exercise does not affect breast milk in any way. Therefore, you can breastfeed after exercise.

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Reading to Your New Baby

by Guest
Posted August 5 2010 04:01pm
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For some parents, the idea of reading to their newborn seems ridiculous. If the baby can’t speak or understand, why would they be interested in a story? But child development experts are quick to assure new parents that reading to their child is one of the most important things that they can do.

Reading to your baby right from birth, even during pregnancy, can make a big difference in your child’s development. It’s a way to communicate with your baby that will help him build his language skills. Through reading, you’re also comforting your baby. You’re involved by touching, rocking and speaking to him. And when you read, you’re playing with him. You can make sound effects or ask questions or try commenting on what he’s looking at. It’s a chance to teach your baby about colours, shapes, feelings, how people act and react and what the world is all about.

It may seem strange that all of those things help your baby before he can even talk, but there are even more benefits. Experts believe that early literacy helps your baby increase his vocabulary and attention span. He’ll develop an eagerness to read and learn. He’ll know how to handle books, understand how to put sentences together, predict what happens next in a story, increase his social skills, bond with you and identify his feelings.

The best time to start reading to your baby is actually during pregnancy.
There is evidence that reading to your baby while in the womb promotes bonding and baby comes to prefer his parents’ voices. In research studies, babies have even shown a preference for songs or stories that they had been exposed to before they were born.

With a baby, it can be tough to hold their attention to read them a story. Try to choose books with large print and pictures that will keep your baby interested. Speak in the slightly higher pitched, animated simple words that are often called “parentese.” Make sure your baby is comfortable, dry and fed so that he won’t be distracted as you read. And, as much as it might seem repetitive to you, try to read the same book every day for a while. It will help develop your baby’s memory, plus your baby will start to look forward to the pictures and words on the next page.

Let your baby touch the book you are reading. Touch is a central part of human learning. We all learn especially well when we can pick up and handle materials. For babies, experts generally recommend board books because they are safer (much harder to chew), plus they’re great for helping babies learn to exercise their fingers and hands.

If your baby fusses when you are reading, don’t try to keep reading or choose a different book. Put the book away and wait for a time when baby is calm. The last thing you want is to have your baby connect fussiness with reading. Always wait for a time when your baby is in a happier mood and then try reading.

Reading with your baby is Comfort, Play & Teach® time:


  • If you make reading with your baby a routine, your baby will feel safe and comforted.


  • If you routinely read in an animated way, your baby will be enjoying playtime with you


  • If you make reading a reading routine, your baby will learn to pay attention, pick up words for his vocabulary, and learn to think ahead.


Check out our Reading with Your Baby video for more tips and strategies for reading with your baby.

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What’s Affecting Your Intimacy?

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 05:56pm
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When you become parents it can change your level of intimacy and it can definitely impact on your sex life. Our experts have created an overview of some of the big things that affect a couple’s intimacy. Read on and see if you can relate to any of these!

What would you do if tonight’s intimate moments led to another pregnancy? This can be a real worry for some couples. You may want to consider some form of birth control as an extra precaution.  Consult with Mom’s and/or Dad’s doctor about your beliefs and lifestyle.

You may find that, every time you get in the mood, something comes up—a phone call, your baby starts to cry or a neighbour stops by to meet the little one. Perfect timing! You may find it’s less frustrating to not even make an attempt at romance, rather than stop in the middle to deal with an unexpected distraction.

Many new dads worry about hurting Mom and may avoid having sex until they are sure everything is going to be okay. This might also be a worry for Mom. Worry and anxiety take many forms—what if you don’t hear the baby crying? How will you deal with the family finances? Are you spending enough time at home? Any form of worry or anxiety will affect the process of arousal and can lead to an avoidance of sex altogether.

Sick or colicky baby
A colicky baby—one of the great passion killers! This can take your energy away quickly and make an already busy time in your life even busier. A baby who is unwell is going to require even more of your attention and energy, not to mention the worry that many new parents feel if their baby is ill.

Emotional Upset

Some moms and/or dads suffer feelings of great stress, which you may end up directing at each other. Mom may be angry that Dad seems to be able to carry on with his life without any major changes. Dads may feel displaced by the baby, like he’s not an important part of the family, and express this in the form of anger or withdrawal.

Baby Sleeping in the Same Room
The safest place for baby to sleep during the first 6 months of life, in terms of preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is in the same room as Mom and Dad. However, this may inhibit sexual intimacy for some couples. Some parents are uncomfortable with their baby hearing parents' love-making; your baby will not know these sounds are those of making love. Sometimes babies wake up just when parents are getting warmed up, and there is almost no way to ignore a baby who needs you.

Passion Strategies

Don’t let all of these issues and distractions get to you. It’s not all bad news. There are plenty of strategies that couples have used to ensure that passion remains a key ingredient in their relationship.

Here are some ideas you can use to light a fire between you:

Perhaps the most important strategy is to talk with each about lovemaking. Identify any of the issues you’re experiencing and share them with your partner. There’s a closeness that comes from knowing how your partner feels and what they may be struggling with; this will help you return to a satisfying love life better than anything else.

Start Slow
Take the pressure off yourselves. Don’t make your goal be to have sexual intercourse right away—start slow. Touch each other, kiss, bathe together, massage each other and hold hands.  These are all great opportunities to master your foreplay skills and enhance intimacy.

Change your sexual routine. Try different positions. Try different rooms. Again, communicate with each other. Tell your partner what you like and what you don’t like.

Follow her Lead

Dad, allow Mom to be the guide and respond to her requests. If she asks you to stop, you need to stop immediately. This will provide her with greater confidence and trust, helping to decrease any worry or anxiety she might have about experiencing pain or discomfort.

Remember, it’s common for new moms to have less natural lubricant for up to 10 weeks after the birth of your baby. Purchase a lubricant from the local pharmacy, or ask your doctor for a recommendation.

Limit the Distractions

Don’t start to make love if you know your baby is due for a feeding, or if you know your mother-in-law may arrive at any minute. A few other practical hints:

  • Take the phone off the hook.
  • Turn off your pager or cell phone.
  • Put a “Do Not Disturb—Baby Sleeping” sign on your door.

Create a Romantic Setting

Creating a mood can really enhance passionate feelings. Put on some romantic music, dim the lights, light some candles, these will all help to set the right mood.

Make a Date
If someone can watch your baby for a few hours or you know baby will be sleeping, use that special time to be together sexually. Don’t add it to your “to do” list, make it happen.

Find a Space Away from Your Baby

If having your baby in your bedroom inhibits your sexual intimacy, then try two things:

  1. Find another room (even the living room floor!) and make it your love nest, even if only for a few hours at a time.
  2. Move your baby's crib or bassinet to another room. This will help him adjust to sleeping in two places—not just one—to give yourselves a little alone time in your own bed.

Make Use of Opportunities When they Arise
For example, your baby has just eaten and is down for his afternoon nap, take the phone off the hook and spend some time cuddling or massaging each other.

Watch for Postpartum Depression

Either of you may be suffering from postpartum depression, which will block any passionate desires. Review the signs of postpartum depression and speak with your healthcare provider if you notice any symptoms.

If either of you feel that your intimate relationship is off track for a long period of time after birth—over 3 months—consider talking with your Parent Educator for a recommendation, or contact your family doctor.

How did you keep the fire alive after your baby was born? Leave a comment and share your story with parents just like you!


If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby, check out www.welcometoparenting.com. These interactive, online prenatal and parenting classes will provide information on pregnancy, labour and delivery, your relationship and a community of expectant and new parents just like you! Watch the overview video!



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Is Your Baby Breastfeeding Well?

by Maxine
Posted July 25 2011 07:24pm
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Our experts have created the following checklist to help you confidently determine if your baby is breastfeeding well.

  • Your baby’s latch and position are good at each breastfeeding.
  • Your breasts soften after each feeding.
  • You feel a pull on your breast when your baby sucks. 
  • You can hear your baby swallow—making a “kaa” sound. 
  • Your baby makes lots of wet diapers and stools. 
  • The fontanel or soft spot on top of your baby’s head—don’t be afraid to touch it—is flat, not sunken in. 
  • The inside of your baby’s mouth looks wet (even if the lips appear a bit dry). 
  • When you gently pinch the skin on your baby’s tummy or upper leg and then let go, it springs back down.


Your baby may lose 5% to 7% of his birth weight within the first few days following birth. Don’t worry; he will regain it by 2 weeks of age.


More information on breastfeeding »

Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about breastfeeding? Our expert, Attie Sandink, is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Ask Attie a Question!



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