Ask the Expert: Supporting a Breastfeeding Mother

Child Care Answers has received several questions from early childhood educators about the best way to support the mother who is breast feeding. As the Infant Toddler Specialist and Certified Lactation Counselor I am available to provide technical assistance to child care programs to help you learn about the difference in breast milk, how to store and serve it as well as how to support the mothers that you serve.  Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with your questions.  I can be reached at  Below are some helpful guidelines and tips from that can help get you started.

Caregiver’s Guide to the Breastfed Baby in the First 6 Months

from Breastfeeding Basics

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that for optimal nutrition, babies be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months. This means no supplemental water, formula, or solid foods.  Always check with the baby’s mother before offering ANY food other than her breastmilk.

Human milk does not look like formula or cow’s milk. It may be a different color or consistency, and it is normal for it to be bluish, greenish, or even brownish in color. Because human milk is not homogenized, it will naturally separate into layers of milk and cream. This is normal, and does not mean the milk is spoiled. If the milk separates, heat and swirl it gently to mix.

Because a baby digests and uses human milk so completely, less breast milk than formula may be needed at a feeding. There is no way to predict exactly how much milk a baby will need at each feeding, but you will soon learn how much milk the baby usually takes. In exclusively breastfed babies, milk intake increases quickly during the first few weeks of life, and then stays about the same between one and six months. During the first six months, most babies will take in about the same amount of milk:  around 25 ounces in 24 hours.  It’s a good idea to have some 1-2 ounce portions available for snack feedings.  As a rule of thumb, babies under 3 months will usually take between 2-4  ounces, and babies over 3 months will take from 4-6 ounces.

You should be aware that a breastfed baby may not be on the same feeding schedule as a formula fed baby. Breast milk is digested quickly, and the baby may need to feed more frequently. Also, many nursing babies are used to nursing for comfort as well as nutrition, and may need extra cuddling and rocking, especially at nap time. Be flexible, and as you spend time with the baby you will get to know his own unique schedule and you will be able to comfort him in your own way.

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