Friday, October 18, 2019


It's simple to us. We feel hungry. We grab a bite and eat it. 

We may take it for granted, but for a newborn, eating is a huge accomplishment! 

We see it happen so naturally in newborns, it seems simple. Newborn puppies find their mama’s teat before they can open their eyes, latch on and feed instinctively. Newborn humans typically need to be fed within the first hour of birth. Off they go, it's a 


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If you're lucky, all will go well with those mealtimes. You'll be looking for ways to make meaningful, bonding, quality times. Here are some suggestions to support fun during these mealtime frenzies:

  • Set the feeding area up for comfort! Bring a pillow or two nearby in case you need a quick adjustment. Don’t forget the remote control, a drink and perhaps a snack for yourself. Create a place you can prop your feet up.
  • Set the mood with appropriate lighting and sound. Music is preferable to television, as it frees you to watch baby and respond to her signs during the meal. However, this is not the time to play blaring rap or heavy metal music. Music with a steady rhythm is shown to be calming, whereas irregular rhythm (like jazz) stimulates the nervous system. If you do watch television, be aware of what you’re watching while feeding your baby. If the show is suspenseful (yes, baby feels your body tension) or even just too loud, baby won’t be able to maintain the right alertness level. Perhaps you think baby sleeps through these loud or scary shows, so it doesn’t matter. Newborns will fall asleep if they are OVER-AROUSED as easily  as if they are tired. You don’t want to over-arouse baby, and you don’t want to put baby to sleep during mealtime. Adjust the environment to find the just-right stimulation that supports baby’s ability to calmly complete mealtime.

  • If you’re inclined to hum or sing, go ahead! Mealtime is a good time to do the things that support your happiness and help baby feel happy, too. Watch baby’s body and face for signs of contentment. Enjoy them together. A recent scientific study found that mother's voice helps normalize (ie., modulate) baby's arousal state. If baby's stressed, it calms. If baby's too groggy, it alerts. Find this study here.

  • Interact with eye contact and facial expression as suits the two of you. At first, newborns cannot establish eye to eye gaze, but they may try to focus on your face briefly. This develops readily in the first couple of months, so it won’t be long until baby wants to engage with you eye to eye. These times can really touch your heart. Smiles start to be shared, as do other facial expressions, even during feeding. These back and forth playful exchanges of love and contentment are super-healthy—for both of you! If you're uncomfortable with eye contact, now is the time to get some practice for yourself! Baby won't judge you, so go ahead and give it a try. 
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Sweet baby gazing time!

But sometimes things aren't so simple. If you're having any trouble with mealtime, read on. . . 

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