One of the most important activities for your preemie when she comes home from the NICU is eating. And if you and your baby are having a difficult time with feedings once she’s home, some of these factors may be part of the issue. Taking the time to narrow down the potential cause helps you to find the answer more quickly.
Swaddle Her for Meal Times
Babies, especially premature babies, lack the muscular control that they need to support themselves while eating. This can leave your baby feeling insecure, which leads to flailing. Eventually, your baby can be so distracted by the insecurity she’s feeling that eating isn’t a priority for her. If you swaddle her, however, this gives her the support that she needs to be able to focus on eating.
Use Gentle Touch
Touching your baby is another way that you can help her to feel secure. Gentle skin contact helps her to maintain her connection with you. It also helps you to feel calmer and more connected with the entire process. The only key here is to use skin-to-skin touch for the best results. Touch can be so helpful in other aspects of your baby’s life and development, too.
Help Your Baby Eat at the Right Pace for Her
Whether your baby drinks formula from a bottle or milk directly from the breast, pacing is important. If the milk or formula is flowing too quickly, she may not be able to keep up with the flow. Using a low-flow nipple on bottles or pumping breast milk to use with a bottle are some of the ways that you can adjust a fast flow to accommodate your baby’s pace.
Adjust Your Baby’s Position
Position matters a lot while your baby is eating, too. Make sure that she’s slightly elevated and lying on her side. Lying like this while she’s eating can help her to manage both her breathing and swallowing her food. Make sure also that your baby’s body is aligned from head to lower body. Straightening that alignment helps to ensure that she’s able to swallow food more easily, too.
If you’re still having trouble with meal times after getting home, consider hiring pediatric home health care providers. Pediatric home health care aides can help you to troubleshoot feeding sessions and find the right combination of solutions to fit your baby’s needs. It can help so much to have hands-on help when you need it most.
Excerpt: Feeding your baby at home after some time in the NICU can feel intimidating. These tips can help.