How to Syringe Feed a Breastfed Baby?

How to Feed a Baby With a Syringe

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Once your little baby arrives in the world, you will be more than excited to breastfeed him and take care of him. However, there might be conditions that might not make it easy for the baby to be breastfed. At times, you may require additional time to recover or your breasts may be too sensitive or sore and may require rest, thus, preventing you from breastfeeding your baby. This is where feeding a baby with a syringe might need to be undertaken.

What is Syringe Feeding?

We all know that a baby should be breastfed for the first six months, but in certain scenarios, it may not be possible for a mother to breastfeed her baby. Therefore, a baby may need to be fed expressed breast milk or formula directly in his mouth through a syringe without a needle. Such a feeding technique is termed syringe feeding.

How to Feed a Newborn With a Syringe

Before going ahead with using a syringe to feed your newborn baby, it is important that you follow a few steps. Breastmilk can usually be given directly with the syringe. However, when preparing formula milk, do stick to the instructions on the package but make sure it is fluid enough to pass through the syringe.

  • Prepare the formula or breastmilk in a cup or a bowl.
  • Using a sterile or clean syringe, pull the plunger to fill the syringe with milk.
  • Position your baby appropriately on your lap. Make sure he is slightly inclined in an upright position.
  • Gently nudge the baby to open his mouth with the tip of the syringe. When he does, insert the tip of the syringe inwards.
  • The baby will latch on to the tip. Once he does, start pushing the plunger in a gradual way, staying in sync with his sucking action.

It might take a few tries to get it right. In case you continue to face problems feeding your baby the right way or he doesn’t seem to drink enough milk, get in touch with your doctor or any consultant for help.

Tips and Precautions for Syringe Feeding a Breastfed Baby

At times, your baby might be feeding off your breast but not in the quantities he should. In order to supplement his nutrition, you can make use of syringe feeding by either using your expressed breastmilk or formula. However, it is important to keep the amount in tandem with breastfeeding. If your baby starts feeding on the breast for a longer duration, ask your doctor for the right time to cut down on the supplemental feeding.

If the tip of the syringe is uncomfortable for the child, you can attach a fine tube to the tip of it. This can be slid into the baby’s mouth, which he can suck on easily. Hospital personnel can help you with that. If this fails as well, it is best to resort to bottle feeding or a cup to keep his nutritional intake on the right path.

For most women, especially first-time mothers, the act of feeding breast milk with a syringe can feel weird and even saddening. The experience of having your baby feed on your breast is what constitutes the very experience of motherhood. However, prioritising your baby’s safety and needs is important. Over time, you might find an opportunity to get him back onto your breast.

Also Read: Cup Feeding Your Baby

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