It is normal for parents to feel anxious when caring for their preemie baby. A lot of those anxieties can outshine the excitement of having a newborn at home. This is only because a premature baby needs extra care and attention. When it comes to feeding, it is always best to breast-feed your baby because he receives essential nutrients that only breast milk can provide. A preemie may find it difficult to do so. In cases where this happens, you may use a breast pump to provide your baby’s milk and place it in a bottle so he is still able to get the full benefits of mother’s milk. Here is a list of guidelines regarding feeding your preemie baby from a bottle:
- Because preemie babies are not as strong, feeding time can be a problem. They are oftentimes sleepy and will need to be stimulated to start feeding. Try bottle feeding your baby while he is sitting up rather than snuggled in your arms. Sit the baby on your lap making sure that his head and shoulders are well supported by your hand.
- When your baby is finally in a sitting position, your other hand can handle the bottle and hold up both his cheeks and his chin. Doing this may require some practice to get used to. You may ask hospital staff to give you tips on doing this the right way. The reason for supporting the cheeks and the chin of your baby is to ensure that he has a firm seal on the bottle’s nipple.
- There are specific exercises you can practice with your baby to help him get ready to bottle-feed. Squeezing his cheeks together, moving your fingers around his lips, or gently caressing his chin, are just a few exercises to stimulate your baby to feed. You may also learn how to do them with the help of well-trained hospital staff who will be more than willing to give you advice.
- When your baby gets fussy in between his bottle-feeding, you may have to burp him first before continuing to feed. Always make sure that the bottle is angled in such a manner where the nipple is engorged in milk to avoid your baby taking in air when sucking on the nipple.
- There may be certain situations when your baby may have difficulty in coordinating feeding with breathing. Always be on the lookout for signs of trouble and stop feeding for a while if you notice anything out of the ordinary like gagging, difficulty in breathing, or your baby going limp.
- You can determine when your preemie baby has stopped feeding since more often than not, he will simply drift off to sleep.
Taking care of your preemie baby may be a bit difficult, but you must have complete faith in yourself that you will always do the right thing. Always check with your doctor about any concerns you may have to put your mind at ease. You will eventually get the hang of it and begin to enjoy your newborn, just as you should.