Syringe-feeding at the breast can help maintain your supply.

How to Give a Newborn Breast Milk From a Syringe

by Rachel Kolar

When a newborn needs a supplemental feeding, a periodontal syringe makes a handy alternative to a bottle. Not only does it help your baby avoid nipple confusion, it allows your newborn the comfort of sucking while he eats. You have two options when syringe-feeding. One is to line up the syringe with your nipple, which helps maintain your supply as you supplement and gives your baby the satisfaction of receiving milk from your breast. The other is to line it up with your fingertip, which is less likely to make you feel like you need to grow a third hand to juggle everything.

1. Supplementing at the Breast

1 Place the nursing pillow across your lap and prop up your feet. Your baby's head should reach the level of your breast without you having to hold it up. If it it's too low, add more pillows until you don't need to hold your baby's head.

2. Supplementing at the Breast

2 Line up the syringe on your breast so the tip is on top of your nipple. Hold it in place with the hand you use to support your breast during the feeding.

3. Supplementing at the Breast

3 Guide your baby's head onto your breast and allow him to latch on. When he's latched, let go of his head and move that hand to the syringe. The syringe should be in the corner of his mouth; if not, move it.

4. Supplementing at the Breast

4 Press the plunger of the syringe lightly when your baby's jaw drops while nursing. This will time the release of milk so that it squirts in just before he swallows.

5. Supplementing at the Breast

5 Watch your baby as he feeds. If it looks like he's choking or if the milk is dribbling out of his mouth, press the syringe every other time his jaw drops instead of every time, or tap it more lightly.

6. Finger-Feeding

1 Wash your hands thoroughly and trim the nail on the finger you intend to use. If you have small hands, your index or middle finger works best; if you have large hands, try your pinky.

7. Finger-Feeding

2 Prop up your feet so that your knees are elevated. Lay your baby face up in your lap so his head is toward your knees and his feet point toward your belly.

8. Finger-Feeding

3 Slip the tip of your finger into your baby's mouth with the pad facing the roof of his mouth and the fingernail facing his tongue. When he opens his mouth wide or sucks your finger fully into his mouth, lay or slide it on top of his tongue. Do not simply force your finger into his closed mouth, or he may not learn how to latch properly.

9. Finger-Feeding

4 Slip the tip of the syringe about 1/8 inch into the corner of your baby's mouth. Press the plunger of the syringe lightly when your baby's jaw drops while nursing. This will time the release of milk so that it squirts in just before he swallows.

10. Finger-Feeding

5 Watch your baby as he feeds. If it looks like he's choking or if the milk is dribbling out of his mouth, press the syringe every other time his jaw drops instead of every time, or tap it more lightly.

Items you will need

  • Periodontal syringe
  • Nursing pillow

Tips

  • Always enlist the help of an international board-certitifed lactation consultant (IBCLC) when supplementing. An IBCLC can help you decide which syringe-feeding method is right for you, work out the best way to wean your baby off the supplement and determine what feeding method you should use when your baby needs more milk than the syringe can hold.
  • If you're supplementing at the breast and have another adult to help you, you might find it useful to hold the baby as you normally do and have your trusty assistant handle the syringe.
  • If you're finger-feeding, pump at every feeding to maintain your supply.

References

About the Author

A resident of the Baltimore area, Rachel Kolar has been writing since 2001. Her educational research was featured at the Maryland State Department of Education Professional Schools Development Conference in 2008. Kolar holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kenyon College and a Master of Arts in teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images