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Support and social groups

Whether you're breastfeeding, bottle-feeding or introducing solid foods, there are support and social groups around Hertfordshire to help you.

 

Responsive feeding tips

When feeding your baby, there are some important things you can do to make sure you're closely responding to your baby’s needs.

Skin to skin contact

This is when you hold your baby close, skin to skin, as soon as possible after birth. Your warmth, smell and heartbeat will make your baby feel safe and calm.

Skin to skin can continue for several weeks after birth.

Learning your baby's cues

Keeping baby close to you so that you can recognise feeding cues is helpful.

More about feeding cues – signs baby is hungry

Most babies will “ask politely” in the first instance. This is a much easier time to feed than when crying.

Feeding at baby's pace

When breastfeeding your baby, feeds can be long or short. When bottle-feeding, feed at your baby's own pace. Like an adult, there will be times when they're hungrier than others.

ottle-fed babies may not finish every feed. Look for signs that they've had enough and avoid overfeeding.

Looking at and holding baby close

Babies need this for healthy brain development. There are simple things you can do to ensure you're enhancing baby’s learning, both before and after baby is born. 

Plenty of cuddles

You can’t spoil a baby by picking them up and keeping them close. It helps your baby to feel secure and loved.

Remember, baby cries as a last resort and mostly wants to be close to you. If you're bottle-feeding, limit the number of people who give them a feed in the early days. Your baby is getting to know you and is still building up resistance to bacteria.

It’s fine to give your baby a dummy but avoid using them after 12 months of age. Using dummies after this can encourage an open bite, which is when teeth move to make space for the dummy.

More about using a dummy (PDF, 338kb).

 

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a great way to get your baby off to the best start. You may consider breastfeeding your baby as:

  • breast milk is the best food your baby can have – it's tailor-made for your baby
  • breast milk boosts your baby’s ability to fight illness and infection in their first 6 months. Evidence shows that babies who are breastfed are less likely to get diarrhoea and respiratory infections, particularly in the early months
  • breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer – it also burns about 500 calories a day
  • it's a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your baby
  • breastfeeding your baby can help their brain to grow.

Breastfeeding top tips

  1. Keep your baby close so you can recognise the signals when they're hungry or just need a cuddle.
  2. Skin contact will help to calm your baby and help increase your milk supply.
  3. Try not to give your baby any other fluids other than breastmilk for the first 6 months.
  4. Try not to use a dummy before breastfeeding is established – usually around 4 to 6 weeks.
  5. Night time feeds are important to help maintain a good milk supply. The hormone that makes your milk is also higher at night.

 

Breastfeeding and returning to work

You don't have to stop breastfeeding because you’re returning to work. Remember, employers have certain obligations towards breastfeeding women.

More about breastfeeding and returning to work

 

 

 

When to contact your health visitor

If your baby is:

  • doing less than 1 poo in 24 hours in the first 4–6 weeks following birth
  • passing fewer than 5 wet nappies in 24 hours in the first 4–6 weeks following birth
  • having fewer than 8 feeds in 24 hours in the first 4–6 weeks following birth
  • unsettled following feeds
  • feeding frequently and coming on and off the breast


Also, get in touch if:

  • you're in pain or discomfort – this can sometimes be a cause of mastitis or thrush
  • you think your baby isn't getting enough milk
  • you think your baby might have tongue tie.

Help breastfeeding

It can take a while before you feel confident.

There are several groups and services available to support you with breastfeeding. Find breastfeeding support and social groups near you. You can also find national organisations who will be able to offer breastfeeding specialist support.

 

Bottle-feeding

If you decide to bottle-feed your baby, the following tips might help:

  1. Keep your baby close when feeding so you can see into their eyes and talk gently to them – it helps to form a bond.
  2. Offer your baby the bottle by stroking their top lip with the teat – don't force the teat into their mouth.
  3. Allow your baby to set the pace of the feed – stop when they show signs of having had enough.
  4. Limit the number of people who feed your baby so the baby stays calm and relaxed.
  5. There's no need to offer follow-on formula. Your baby only needs the first milk for the first year of their life.
  6. Throw away any left over milk.

 

 

Vitamins for children

Growing children, especially those who don't eat a varied diet, sometimes don't get enough vitamins. Free Healthy Start multivitamins are available through your family centre for:

  • pregnant women
  • breastfeeding mums
  • babies from the age of 4 weeks (except those receiving more than 500ml of formula a day)
  • children up to 4.

You don’t need vouchers to receive these.

 

Introducing solid food

Sometimes called "weaning" or "complementary feeding", you should start to introduce solid food to your baby at around 6 months.

First steps nutrition – simple guide to infant formula, follow-on formula and other infant milks

Your baby's first solid foods – weaning advice from the NHS

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