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Responsive feeding

Top Tips for responsive feeding to help you and your baby experience a close and loving experience during feeding

Mum breastfeeding on the beach
Offer feeds when your baby is showing signs of early feeding cues, this may include:

Moving their eyes, wriggling, waving, rooting, sucking fists, making murmuring noises, crying is the last resort.

The magic of skin-to-skin contact:

Helps to relax you and your baby and increases oxytocin (the love and bonding hormone) which supports optimal brain development and a loving relationship.

Feeding is a partnership:

Hold your baby close when feeding and look into your baby’s eyes this will be extra comforting and help your baby feel safe. If you are providing milk in a bottle try to limit the number of people who feed your baby so you can learn what your baby wants.

Feeding for comfort:

Babies feed for the comfort when they are tired, upset or lonely and breastfeeding mums may also find they want to feed because they are experiencing full breasts. 

Invite your baby to feed by:

Touching the upper lip with your nipple or teat of the bottle, wait for baby’s mouth to open and their tongue to poke out. Place your nipple/ the teat at the front of your baby’s mouth and allow your baby to draw it into their mouth.

There is no need to rush a feed:

Ensure there is milk in the teat and pace the feed to your baby’s needs. Try to keep your baby snuggled into you to enjoy the cuddle and comfort of your feed. Offer frequent breaks for winding from the bottle. 

Your baby knows when they are full:

Never force your baby to take the whole feed, their appetite changes with each feed, just like your own appetite changes. Watch your baby to see when he has finished feeding and discard any milk left over.


Breastfeeding - Infant milks
Additional information for babies receiving their milk in a bottle:
  • How to sterilise equipment

  • How to make up feeds safely

  • Type of milk to use (i.e. first stage/ newborn until a year old)

For more information please see links in Useful information section and do ask your Health Visitor for more information.

Useful information:

NHS Choices - bottle feeding advice

First Steps Nutrition - "scientific and factual?"

UNICEF  – a guide to infant formula for parents who are bottle feeding