Tag Archives: feeding with love and respect

The Basics of Bottle Nursing

By Barbara Nicholson & Lysa Parker, API co-founders, reprinted with permission from Attached at the Heart ©, available through the API Store

Bottle nursingWe have been contacted by many parents and caregivers who want to incorporate the most loving behaviors into their feeding practices with their babies. Our culture often supports practices that create disconnection from our children. For instance, some parents have shared with us that they were given baby gear to encourage a “hands off “ style of parenting, including devices to prop a baby bottle so the baby does not have to be held during feedings. An Attachment Parenting International Support Group meeting may be the first place where a parent hears how important it is that babies be fed in the arms of a loved one.

API developed guidelines for bottle-feeding with a unique viewpoint. Because we encourage all parents to look at their parenting choices through the lens of attachment, we have coined the term “bottle nursing” because it reflects breastfeeding behaviors and has tremendous advantages to the parent or other caregiver and baby. These recommendations are applicable to infants who are bottle-fed breast milk, formula, or a combination.

To simulate breastfeeding, parents hold the baby in the crook of the arm, positioning the bottle alongside the breast. This position places the baby’s face and cheek in contact with the parent’s arm, and this skin-to-skin contact helps parent and baby feel more connected. Holding the baby during feeds also helps to prevent the baby from developing “flat-head syndrome,” or plagiocephaly, which can happen when a child is left on a flat surface too frequently. When a baby drinks from a propped bottle, mother and baby also miss an important opportunity to strengthen their emotional connection. Propping the bottle can also be a choking hazard.

Try to make feeding time a special time of calm for both parent and child. Maintain eye contact while feeding when the baby is alert and interested, and switch positions from one side to another; these help strengthen the baby’s eye muscles. Talk softly and lovingly to baby at feeding times. Parents should respect their child’s hunger cues by avoiding feeding schedules. Following the child’s cues helps to strengthen the attachment relationship and shows the baby that his needs are understood.

“We take care of our foster babies as if they were our birth children in every way, except that they are bottle-fed. We hold them as much as we can; I war them in a sling all of the time when I am out in public, and we never take the car seat out of the car. We sleep in close proximity to them; we have a porta-crib next to our bed.

We feed them bottles but use a breastfeeding model, holding them close, never propping the bottle, changing sides for eye-hand coordination, demand-feeding, yet being careful not to overfeed them formula (which is not a concern with breastmilk).

We answer their needs as quickly as is humanly possible, helping them to feel as if they are the most precious beings on this earth.”

~Reedy Hickey, foster mother of 32 infants

Some mothers (or primary caregivers) who bottle nurse choose to follow the breastfeeding model closely so the baby associates feeding with being held; therefore, the mother is the primary person who feeds him while using the bottle. This approach to bottle-feeding produces many benefits for mother and child. The mother will have an opportunity to sit down, to have a special time to bond and rest, just as a breastfeeding mother would be “allowed” to do. A new mother sometimes needs this excuse to rest, instead of feeling that she must do all the housework or other tasks while letting someone else feed the baby. With this behavior, the baby benefits from the consistency of his mother’s presence while feeding and is able to gaze at her face, smell her scent, and feel secure in her arms. This enables their precious attachment relationship to deepen. A mother might say to a well-intentioned relative or friend who wants to feed the baby that this is their special bonding time and a rest time for Mom.

Sucking can remain a strong need well past the first year or two. Pacifiers, when used appropriately, can satisfy that need until the child outgrows it. Breastfeeding babies suck at the breast for comfort, so parents of bottle-fed babies can enrich their child’s experience by either holding the baby in the feeding position when giving a pacifier or simply holding and comforting an older child. These modifications increase close physical contact and bonding time and can make weaning from the pacifier a more natural and gradual process.

As the baby gets older and is able to hold his own bottle, the parent may be tempted to allow the baby to feed himself or to let him walk around with a bottle rather than providing the comfort the child is seeking. If a child doesn’t associate the bottle with being held or having undivided attention by the parent, he might use the bottle or a pacifier as a comfort tool, or “transitional object.” Toddlers who use the bottle, pacifier, or thumb for comfort – rather than being comforted by the parent – may have a much harder time giving up the bottle, pacifier, or thumb down the road. If they learn to come to their parent for comfort or cuddle time and perhaps a short time of sucking on their bottle or pacifier, eventually they will prefer the cuddle and gradually wean from the transitional object, much like a breastfeeding toddler weans from the breast.

In the case of a baby or child who must be separated from their parents during part of the day, it is important that the parent evaluate how important a pacifier or other transitional object is for the security of the child. In some cases, it would be cruel to forbid the use of these comforts, so parents must use their best judgment.

A Resource for Parents of Picky Eaters

By Heidi Green ©, reprinted with permission from BabyGooRoo.com

MyPyramid for PreschoolersFive years ago, I had very firm ideas about childhood nutrition. “Balanced meals” was my mantra. I presented plates with foods of different colors (indicating different nutrients), and I sought out whole foods, natural foods, and organic foods. My firstborn stuck up his nose at much of it. Even the foods children are “supposed” to love – macaroni and cheese, pizza, and hot dogs – earned his disdain.

I quickly went through what I now think of as the Five Stages of Preschooler Feeding Grief:

  • Denial – “He’ll eat it next time.”
  • Anger – “Why won’t he eat this?!”
  • Bargaining – “Eat this if you want dessert.”
  • Depression – “What’s the point in cooking good foods if he won’t eat them?”
  • Acceptance – “Well, he is a healthy boy in spite of being picky.”

And that’s the important truth: my now five-year-old son is a healthy child. He’s lean and active, energetic, and funny. And while he still prefers the foods he accepted easily, he has broadened his palate some. A little bit.

MyPyramid for Preschoolers

The title of this U.S. federal government’s subpopulation-specific nutrition pyramid, MyPyramid for Preschoolers available at ChooseMyPlate.gov, is something of a misnomer. After all, preschoolers won’t use it themselves. Most don’t read. It’s a sure bet that none are planning their own meals! So this tool is, more accurately, for parents of preschoolers. Still, those who are planning meals for children between the ages of two and five may find it helpful.

Like the other MyPyramid modules, the preschoolers’ site is customizable. Parents can enter in their children’s information, and find out information related to:

  • Growth charts – Body Mass Index and height-for-age charts are available. Unfortunately, although the site does acknowledge that there is a “wide range of normal growth,” it still encourages parents to “see where your child compares to other [children].” Truly, growth charts should compare a child to himself, over time. Also, the growth charts provided here are the typical NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) charts and not those developed by the World Health Organization as a result of a seven-year, international study of optimally-fed infants. No mention is made of those charts.
  • Eating habits – Some pretty common-sense information will give parents a starting place. Suggestions include: set a good example, offer a variety of foods, start with small portions, help them know when they’ve had enough, follow a meal and snack schedule, make mealtime a family time, and more.
  • Feeding picky eaters – If the toddlers I have known are any indication, I predict this will be the most-visited part of the site! Parents can look here for guidance about common types of picky eating, how to cope with it, and how to get preschoolers to try new foods.
  • Physical activity – Again, the suggestions seem to be largely common sense. Do parents really need to be told that they should be role models in this area? Do they need to be told that engaging in family activities leads to more activity for their children? The section on how to keep your active preschooler safe sounds promising, but actually only links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site with just six tips.
  • Food safety rules – Clean, chill, separate, and cook are rules that apply to food preparation for any eaters, but tips about choking hazards and prevention may be helpful.

Of Note for Parents

Childhood obesity is a serious problem – and I can’t help but think that maybe the physical activity page should have been above the growth charts. Since physical activity is important for everyone, I’d rather have parents focus on what their children are doing than on these numbers!

Still, this site might be helpful as a discussion-starter for parents who are starting to grapple with the problem of picky eating in their preschoolers. If nothing else, it might help parents move from the Stages of Preschooler Feeding Grief to a more practical, problem-solving construct.

Even if it doesn’t, take heart. A friend told me of a child she once knew who seemed to survive on just doughnuts and pizza. Try as his parents might, they faced insurmountable opposition to other foods! What happened to the child? These days, he’s a strong, healthy pediatrician.

This brings us back to the final stage of Preschooler Feeding Grief: Acceptance. Parents, look at your children. Most times, they turn out healthy in spite of picky eating.

Why Breast is Best, and What Needs to Change in Society to Better Support Mothers

By Christina Podolak


For most of our human existence on earth, mothers have fed their babies breast milk. Within the last 100 years, mothers had another option for feeding their babies: formula.

Mothers today are faced with the decision whether to formula feed or breastfeed their babies. Six years ago, I was one of those mothers. I was pregnant with my first child and went in for my first prenatal check-up. My doctor asked if I planned to bottle-feed or breastfeed my baby, and I didn’t hesitate to answer — breastfeed. The topic was never mentioned after that visit.

Why Breastfeed?

When asked a few years later why I wanted to breastfeed, I didn’t have a clear answer. I was aware of some of the health benefits to my infant, but formula processed from the milk of a cow or soybeans just didn’t seem natural or healthy. The cost savings was an obvious benefit, but I also had great breastfeeding role models in my family. My three older sisters as well as my mother had chosen to breastfeed through the first year of infancy. It wasn’t until I heard Dr. Jeanne Stolzer talk in Lincoln, Nebraska, in April 2009 that I fully understood the broad range of benefits available to my baby and me by choosing to breastfeed.

Stolzer is an associate professor and researcher of family studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. After hearing her talk about the overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting breastfeeding, I couldn’t understand why if a mother was educated with this information, she would still choose formula without some sort of circumstance that would make breastfeeding medically impossible for either her or the baby. My concept of the importance of breastfeeding to the mother as well as the child was solidified. It made me feel even more passionate about sharing and education other mothers on the many benefits of breastfeeding.

Research is finding lifetime benefits for both the breastfeeding mother and baby. These benefits are a dose response-specific variable. This means that the outcome is different for each mother-child pair and is associated with the amount, intensity, and duration of the nursing experience. It can be compared to two persons, a regular drinker and a non-drinker: They can be given the same amounts of alcohol for the same length of time, but if one is used to drinking on a regular basis, he won’t be affected as much as the non-drinker. The specific breastfeeding benefits are affected by the amount of milk given, how long the nursing relationship is, and the intensity of nursing sessions. Research has found that the following health benefits to the mother included a reduced the risk for:

  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer
  • Depression rates
  • Cholesterol.

The baby benefits from an overall reduced risk of death from all causes. Research has also found many more lifetime benefit for the baby which includes a reduced risk for:

  • Upper and lower respiratory infections
  • Ear infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Urinary infections
  • Asthma and allergies of all types
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin disorders
  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Celiac and bowel disease
  • Cancer, especially lymphoma and leukemia.

Stolzer shared the statistics of health care savings by breastfeeding alone: $3.2 billion dollars would be saved on health care if all Americans breastfed for six months.

Getting This News to Mothers

The challenge is providing the needed education to new mothers still on the fence about breast or bottle-feeding, as well as eliciting positive support from medical staff. I think back to own experience with my first pregnancy. I wasn’t offered any information from my OB/GYN at my prenatal visits. I agree with Stolzer in that our hospital protocol needs to be changed. All hospitals need to go to the Baby Friendly guidelines and not offer any formula samples or pacifiers.

There also needs to be better prenatal education for the mother and father. This would include a class on breastfeeding as commonplace as childbirth classes, for both parents, so each would know what to expect and how to handle any possible challenges.

A Need for Cultural Acceptance

Better role models for breastfeeding on the cover of magazines and on television shows would be “worth a thousand words” toward building public acceptance for a practice that is as natural to a baby as crawling. How many times has a mother been shown breastfeeding a baby? Not many. There is always a bottle in the baby’s mouth. Rather than baby bottles being the symbol of “babyhood,” an infant wrapped in the warm embrace of his mother would prevail.

Generations of Change

How do we get women to realize the numerous benefits of breastfeeding? I believe education and ongoing support through the first difficult weeks of breastfeeding would move our culture to a time where a majority of women instinctively answer, “Breastfeed my baby, of course.” In the hospital where I delivered my three children, I have found that the doctors dictate protocol, and it can be intimidating to challenge the “expert.” But consider how births have changed in one or two generations. I can’t imagine being unconscious for my deliveries. It takes just a few mothers to intelligently challenge the way doctors choose to educate their patients. Then we can get back to 100 years ago when the majority of mothers breastfed their happy, healthy babies.

Discuss this topic with other API members and parents. Get advice for your parenting challenges, and share your tips with others on the API Forum.

Throw Out Those Jars of Baby Food

By Cynthia Lair, reprinted with permission from Cookus Interruptus, © CookusInterruptus.com

Real baby food is your foodFor many years, I was a guest speaker for the Evergreen Hospital postnatal mom and baby support groups.  I would haul a butane burner, pan, some toasted brown rice, a little grinder, and tiny cups to serve samples in up the escalator to the meeting room — I needed luggage with wheels.  The room was chock full of moms and babies and toys and blankets, so I had to use my big voice. What I was yelling, while stirring freshly ground rice and water into cereal, was that if I could make this cereal in this room while talking to them, I was sure they could do it at home.

I also brought in some boxed baby cereal, which sort of looks and smells like shredded plastic, and let them decide with their eyes, noses, and taste buds which might be better to eat. The choice was obvious.

Cheered on by the Evergreen’s wonderful Molly Pessl, RN, childbirth educator, and IBCLC, I reminded moms that nowhere is it written or proven that it is detrimental to give babies food with flavor. Why train the baby to prefer bland, tasteless food? If you do, you will end up with a three-year old who will demand plain macaroni for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They simply want the empty carbs with no flavor, what they are used to.

Molly says, “What’s wrong with giving baby spicy food?” Amen Molly.

Years later, pediatricians came out with the same conclusion. Subsequently, we saw the birth of “cultural” jarred baby food. Hmm. Why buy curry in a jar when you could make it fresh for everyone and just give baby part of it?

This fire-in-the-belly I have about feeding babies and children better food has been kicking my hind end down the path toward writing, teaching, and now video-blogging for a couple of decades. I rant about it if only slightly prompted.

We can do better for our children. It doesn’t take that much effort. Don’t feed baby curry in a jar while you eat take-out curry from the whole foods deli. Save money. Make a simple curry dish. Eat together. Eat the same food together. It’s a big strand in the tie that binds.

Discuss this topic with other API members and parents. Get advice for your parenting challenges, and share your tips with others on the API Forum.

Nutritional Deficiencies in the Mother May Affect Her Attachment with Her Baby

From API’s Publications Team

Healthy diet essential for mothersNutritional deficiencies in mothers can affect her mental health and lead to inconsistent patterns of mother-child interactions, which in turn increases the likelihood of creating an insecure attachment between the mother and child.

The effect can be two-way, since insecure attachment can lead infant depression which often leads to a repressed appetite in the baby. The resulting nutritional deficiencies in the baby can prolong childhood mental illness.

These theories will be discussed in a March issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article by Purdue University, “Models Linking Nutritional Deficiencies to Maternal and Child Mental Health.”

Traci’s Story: Developing an Appreciation for Bottle-feeding

By Traci Singree, leader of API of Stark County, Ohio

**Originally published in the Spring 2007 annual New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Traci and baby
Traci and baby

Before my children, I was career driven, working in retail management, which meant no family time at holiday or summer get-togethers because I was always working! And I loved it! I met my husband right out of college. We were together for about five years before we got married. In 1995, we were wed. I continued my course of 12-hour days, sometimes 6-day work weeks, and I was having a blast working in the fast-paced field of fashion retail.

About five years later, my husband and I were starting to get that something’s missing feeling, having done all the things we wanted to do. We found ourselves sitting around the house looking at each other on weekends saying, “What do you want to do?” round and round until we decided that maybe that something missing was a baby!

It took us nearly a year to conceive our first-born. We discovered I was pregnant the day of my first fertility appointment. My only knowledge of pregnancy came from what I had heard from my mother or from fellow co-workers with children. I never really researched anything to do with birthing or babies until late in my pregnancy. Continue reading Traci’s Story: Developing an Appreciation for Bottle-feeding

Solution to Childhood Obesity is in the Parents’ Behavior

From API’s Publications Team

ice creamAn article on the United Kingdom’s TimesOnline.com, “Tackle Child Obesity: Teach Mums to Eat,” explains how the solution to rising childhood obesity is in teaching parents that their eating behavior is how children themselves learn to eat.

According to a study published in the Paediatrics journal, one in four children ages four to five years old is overweight, despite normal birth weights. The reason, writes a convinced Susie Orbach, is that children are learning from their parents’ troublesome eating habits – their fear of food, preoccupation with body size, frequent dieting, and bingeing.

“You don’t have to be a psychoanalyst to know that childhood is formative and that one’s earliest eating experiences – entwined as they are with our fundamental feelings of security, love, attachment, and caring – form the basis of how we approach food and succour throughout our lives,” Orbach writes.

Continuing, she discusses how children learn to eat unhealthily from parents who eat to fill an emotional void. Children who watch their parents struggle with eating will grow up believing this is normal. These children grow up learning that eating is done not necessarily to meet a physical need but to curb negative feelings of boredom, anxiety, anger and conflict, sadness, and overexcitedness. Instead of dealing with their upset feelings, people with a tendency toward obesity turn to food for soothing, Orbach wrote.

To read the entire article, go to http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5361106.ece.

Caroline’s Story: Living with 25+ Food Intolerances

By Lindsay Killick

**Originally published in the Fall 2007 Special Needs issue of The Journal of API


When our daughter Caroline joined our family, after a few rough weeks, things seemed to fall right into place. We dealt with typical newborn breastfeeding difficulties such as thrush, oversupply, and latching troubles, and we even managed to survive new-parent sleep deprivation and an intercontinental move five weeks after her birth. We thought we were surely off and running.

Caroline was six weeks old when we began to notice some mucous in her diapers. I’d read a large amount of breastfeeding information during pregnancy and knew that there were many potential causes of mucous in the stools of breastfed babies. I thought the problem would probably clear up soon. It didn’t.

Refusal to Nurse

Shortly thereafter, Caroline began refusing to nurse – even when I knew she must be very hungry. Often she would want to go five-plus hours without nursing, at only seven weeks old. Continue reading Caroline’s Story: Living with 25+ Food Intolerances

Cora’s Story: Food Allergies in a Breastfed Baby

By Rachel Losey, co-leader of API of Norman, Oklahoma

**Originally published in the Fall 2007 Special Needs issue of The Journal of API

Rachel and Cora
Rachel and Cora

Motherhood was different than I expected it to be. I never imagined that I would have an inconsolable baby. I always imagined that through Attachment Parenting (AP) principles, I would have a happy, healthy, “normal” baby. It is only those babies who are not breastfed, not co-slept, not worn in slings, and who are rarely touched who cry for hours and hours, right?

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Cora was a peaceful newborn until day three – when my milk came in. Within hours of that first nursing with my full supply of milk, all of our lives changed forever. She cried for more hours than not, each day. She never slept for more than 45 minutes at a time and only when she was in my arms. She arched her back, held her little tummy – trying to tell us she was hurting. Bowel movements became an act of torture for her.

The Doctor Says Colic – and Co-sleeping – to Blame

We went to the doctor. I was told by our pediatrician to stop breastfeeding, put her in a crib, and read Ezzo’s baby training books, but we chose not to take any of this advice.

Additionally, the pediatrician said it was colic – and we anxiously awaited the magic three-month mark when she would get better. Three months came and went with no change in my baby’s health. Continue reading Cora’s Story: Food Allergies in a Breastfed Baby

OpposingViews.com Argues Public Breastfeeding

From the API Communications Team

OpposingViews.com is holding a debate on “Should Women Breastfeed In Public?” You are invited to read and comment on the arguments on www.opposingviews.com/questions/should-women-breastfeed-in-public.

Author Elizabeth Pantley, Lindsey Nelson of the FirstRight Advisory Council, and writer Nicki Heskin weigh in on whether women have the right to breastfeed in public and whether society needs to give more support to breastfeeding women.