Baby Care

a cute baby girl drinking milk from a bottle

What is flow rate and why does it matter?

Milk flow rate is the rate that milk moves from a bottle nipple into an infant’s mouth during bottle-feeding. The faster a nipple’s flow rate, the more frequently your baby has to swallow. Most healthy, full-term babies are able to adapt their sucking technique to manage milk flow. Pre-term or medically fragile babies, on the other hand, may have trouble safely coordinating sucking, swallowing, and breathing during feeding. For those babies, a slower flow rate helps prevent milk from going down the wrong pipe.

A cautionary word about flow rate labels

Nipples are often labeled with flow rate descriptions like slow, medium, or fast. They may also be described by age range: preemie or newborn, for instance. Some nipples even promise a flow rate that ends lazy feeding or prevents colic. However, several studies have found that the actual milk flow rate often varies among brands and sometimes even within a brand. In other words, what counts as slow varies, even, in some cases, among nipples in the same pack. In addition, a label does not necessarily provide an accurate description of the numeric flow rate, which is what you really need to know if your baby is more medically vulnerable.

Flow rates based on age

It’s common for brands to label nipple levels by age range. Slower flow supports newborns as they learn to feed orally. It gives them time to get the hang of alternating between sucking, swallowing, and breathing. Faster flow rates ensure older babies who’ve got the hang of feeding (and who are way hungrier) don’t get frustrated. That being said, every baby has their own feeding style, and your baby’s style not fit the label. For example, some babies are perfectly content to use a “newborn” nipple for much longer than the label might suggest, while some little newborns pick up their pace faster than you’d expect and are ready for a faster flow sooner.

How do you know if your baby needs a faster flow rate?

Your baby will give you subtle signs when they’re ready for an upgrade on their nipple flow rate. Your baby might:

  • Become fussy, frustrated, or fidgety at mealtime
  • Fall asleep while eating
  • Take longer than usual to finish eating
  • Suck with more force than usual
  • Flatten the nipple
  • Eat less during feedings but get hungry soon after

How do you know if your baby needs a slower flow rate?

Babies also give you hints when the flow rate is too fast. Your baby might:

  • Drool or dribble milk
  • Cough, gulp, or choke
  • Push the bottle away
  • Lose eye contact
  • Look worried or stressed

Choosing a nipple flow rate for your health-compromised baby

Preterm infants and other medically fragile babies, especially those with respiratory disease and those with some kinds of congenital heart disease, are more vulnerable to aspiration. These infants have to become proficient at orally feeding before they’re released, so their first nipples will be provided by the hospital. However, it can be difficult to find these particular brands of nipples out in the real world. If your baby is medically fragile, it’s a good idea to speak to your baby’s doctor and to a lactation consultant to learn which readily available brands and styles they recommend.

Having trouble deciding on the right nipple for your baby’s bottles?

New moms have so many decisions to make these days, and even the little decisions are important to the health of your little one. At Milk N Mamas Baby, we’ve got experienced moms with lots of experience in medical equipment on hand to talk to you as you decide what’s best for your baby. Give us a call today if you’d like more information about choosing the best nipples for your baby’s bottles.

flu season and breast milk

Can breast milk protect babies during flu season?

Breast milk offers a number of advantages over cow’s milk and formula because it is the “biologic norm” for infant nutrition. It contains natural human hormones and nutrients that help newborns thrive as well as “distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonization,” according to a study on the composition of human milk.

Unlike cow’s milk or formula, breast milk is dynamic, changing based on the needs of the infant as well as the environment. In other words, yes, breast milk can protect babies during flu season, and much better than the alternatives.

Breast milk strengthens the immune system and, specifically, respiratory health

A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure, and breast milk is the number one preventative therapy for newborn health. Aside from vitamins and other health-boosting nutrients, human milk contains cells such as macrophages, T cells, stem cells, and lymphocytes. These stimulate the development of a newborn’s immune system, and the effects last for years or, in some cases, for the child’s entire lifetime.

Breast milk passes immune information between mother and child

Because infants’ immune systems are immature when they’re born, they need help from mom’s immune system. Breast milk does more than transfer immunity, though. It actually teaches baby’s immune system what to be on the lookout for. Cytokines and chemokines passed from mother to infant during feeding inform the infant’s immune system of potential threats. This communication improves immune defense against infection and inflammation.

Protection from the flu can be improved by diet, pumping, and vaccination

While breast milk alone will boost your baby’s immune system, you can amplify the flu protection you provide your newborn in several ways.

You don’t have to breastfeed to provide the benefits of breast milk

Even if breastfeeding hasn’t worked out for you, you can provide all of the benefits of nursing through pumping. A comfortable breast pump is critical to a successful pumping session. If you’re not sure which breast pump is right for you, get in touch with your friends at Milk N Mamas Baby. We can help you choose a pump that maximizes your comfort and your breastmilk production to ensure baby is protected during flu season.

two happy babies swaddled in towels after a bath

What are the benefits of co-bathing?

Taking a bath with baby can be a soothing experience

If you find that bathing your newborn in an infant tub leads to tears and squalling, consider co-bathing as an alternative. Infant tubs only hold a small amount of water, and baby is only partially submerged. That makes bathtime a chilly experience for a little one. Conversely, co-bathing offers baby skin-to-skin contact that leaves her feeling peaceful and cozy.

How do you co-bathe safely?

  1. Fill your clean bathtub with water that matches your body temperature. This ensures baby will be right at home – neither too hot nor too cold.
  2. Have your partner deliver baby to you once you’re settled in the tub. It’s best not to try this alone as tubs can be slippery. Likewise, deliver baby back to your partner after bathing for everyone’s safety.
  3. Allow baby to float with your hand securely behind her head. This will remind her of her time in the womb. You may be surprised how much she enjoys it!
  4. Don’t bathe too frequently or too long. Baby only needs about three baths each week, aside from bird baths to keep her face and tooshy fresh. More bathing or soaking too long can actually harm baby’s sensitive skin.
  5. Avoid soap. For the same reason, it’s best to use plain old water when you’re bathing a newborn. After a few weeks or months, you may choose to use a sensitive skin soap made for little ones.
  6. Use bath time to nurse baby. Warm water will help breastmilk flow, and it will relax both mom and baby. That means co-bathing is an ideal opportunity for nursing. Give it a try if you’ve been having trouble getting baby to latch or if you’ve been concerned about your breastmilk production.

What are the benefits of co-bathing?

First of all, you’ll probably make baby very happy. Warm water and the feel of mommy nearby is a treat for infants. In addition, skin-to-skin contact helps to create a bond between mom and baby, and it can also stimulate breastmilk flow. It’s not often mommy gets time for a warm bath, so co-bathing can also be considered self-care for tired mothers.

How Breastfeeding Benefits Newborns and Moms

If you’ve ever wondered whether breastfeeding is worth it, the answer’s in: for sure. Not only does breastfeeding foster a strong bond between mama and baby, it offers both several unique advantages that can’t be found in formula.

Breast milk is easier to digest than infant formula

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, breast milk is “a living biological fluid with many qualities not replicable by human milk substitutes.” Among those qualities is the ability to adapt itself to the changing needs of an infant as she grows. During a single nursing session, breast milk transforms from a thinner foremilk that satisfies her thirst to a creamy hindmilk with higher fat content. 

Even when mother’s own diet is inadequate, breast milk contains the essential nutrients for her baby’s development. Naturally, since breast milk is produced specifically for the nourishment of an infant, it’s easier to digest and even includes digestive enzymes and bioactive molecules that keep your infant’s gastrointestinal tract healthy. 

While formula is designed to mimic as closely as possible breast milk, it’s impossible to replicate the components of mother’s milk. Baby’s gastrointestinal tract must adapt in order to process formula. For instance, breast milk contains higher levels of whey, which babies digest easily, than casein. Formula, on the other hand, has higher levels of casein, which takes longer for a baby to digest. Some babies also prove to be allergic to both cow’s milk protein and soy protein, which are the most prolific formulas. 

Breast milk boosts baby’s immune system

In addition to carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones, breast milk is rich in immune cells. Among these, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have anti-infective properties against against pathogens in the infant gastrointestinal tract, including Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter. The proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme prevent the spread of potentially pathogenic bacteria, preventing illnesses in infants. 

Breast milk reduces the risk of asthma and allergies, and infants that are exclusively  breastfed for the first six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. Recent studies have also suggested that breast milk protect infants from late metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. All of these perks have led one study to call breast milk “a biological fluid required for optimal infant growth and development”.

Breastfeeding is linked with higher IQ scores

Breast milk is a natural source of fatty acids such as DHA and AA, which are critical in neurodevelopment. Several studies have shown a correlation between breastfeeding and increases in verbal IQ and performance IQ as children mature, and at least one group of scientists have found a relationship between breast milk and increases in white matter growth in children’s brains. 

Breastfeeding burns calories

All that good, brain growth-inducing fat in breast milk has to come from somewhere, right? Essentially, your body is melting your own body fat to produce rich, fatty milk for your baby. For mothers who are a healthy weight before childbirth, evidence indicates that breastfeeding helps to quickly shed those pounds gained during pregnancy. A 2008 study of 30,000 Danish women found that breastfeeding was associated with lower postpartum weight retention in all categories of prepregnancy BMI and concluded that breastfeeding as recommended could “eliminate weight retention by 6 months postpartum in many women.”

Breastfeeding offers moms health benefits, too

Believe it or not, breastfeeding even makes mom healthier! One recent study indicates that breastfeeding can reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer by up to 91 percent. Another study found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63 percent less likely to develop an ovarian tumor than women who breastfed for less than seven months. The longer the women breastfed, the greater the protection they received. 

What are you waiting for? Start reaping the rewards of breastfeeding now. Call Milk N Mamas Baby or fill out your breast pump order form today. 

When will my newborn finally sleep through the night?

If you find yourself waking several times each night to soothe your crying newborn back to sleep, you’re not alone. That may be small comfort, but it should offer some assurance that this is perfectly normal. While you may not be getting sufficient sleep, your little one is probably doing just fine.

How much sleep is your newborn actually getting each day?

The average infant sleeps 16-17 hours per 24-hour day. That may come as a surprise to a mom who’s getting four hours of sleep herself. You would be justified in asking when all this sleeping is taking place. Unlike older babies and adults, newborns sleep in short three to four hour increments scattered throughout the course of the day.

It’s easy to forget all the work those sleepy little bodies are doing. Your baby’s nervous system is rapidly developing as well as her senses. She’s getting bigger and figuring out how her body works. It may not seem like a big deal to a grownup whose body has done all the growing it’s going to do, but it’s exhausting, and she needs a lot of sleep to keep her strong and healthy.

Natural sleeping and nursing patterns are similar

During her first weeks, your baby’s body isn’t attuned to the normal day and night cycle, and she spends more time in REM sleep than in deeper non-REM sleep. Over time, she’ll begin to pick up on the cues that indicate when it’s time to play and when it’s time to rest, but even then, most breastfed babies will wake in the middle of the night for a feeding. That’s not a sign that your baby is malfunctioning. In fact, her natural sleep cycle is very similar to her natural nursing cycle.

A newborn should be nursing 8-12 times per day during the first month and 7-9 times per day by one to two months. That’s about every 1½  to 3 hours. In other words, your nursing baby’s daily agenda may resemble a cat’s: one continuous snooze interrupted just long enough for meals. Good for the baby, but exhausting to mom and dad.

Helping your breastfeeding baby sleep through the night

By the end of her first year, your baby’s sleep pattern will begin to mirror yours with nighttime hours and longer, consolidated sleep periods, but it is possible in some cases to help your nursing infant to sleep through the night earlier, according to a research study conducted by the University of Illinois.

In the study, one group of breastfeeding moms were instructed:

  • to offer a “focal feed” (between 10 PM and 12 AM) to their infants every night,
  • to gradually lengthen intervals between middle-of-the-night feeds by carrying out alternative caretaking behaviors (eg, reswaddling, diapering, walking),
  • and to maximize environmental differences between day and nighttime.

By the third week of the study, the infants receiving the special treatment were sleeping in significantly longer episodes than babies in the control group. By week eight, 100% of the treatment babies were sleeping through the night compared to 23% of the control infants. The morning after a long night’s sleep, the treatment infants nursed longer than the control group. However, the total milk intake over a 24 hour period was the same for both groups.

Until then, get your ZZZZs where you can, mom!

Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin from your brain, and oxytocin, also known as the anti-stress hormone, often makes moms feel drowsy and warm. Rather than resisting the urge to doze created by breastfeeding, take advantage of it. If it’s possible, follow your newborn’s model, and get in a nap after nursing. It’ll take the edge off of those sleepless nights.

If it’s not possible to squeeze naps into your daily routine, remind yourself that this too shall pass. Before long, your newborn will be sleeping soundly through the night, and those long, sleepless nights will be a distant memory.

breast feeding bras online

Caring for Baby around the Holidays

Don’t you just love the holidays? This time of years gives us a chance to reunite with friends and family and remember all the good times we had together. Unfortunately for new moms, the holiday season may not be quite as enjoyable. The holidays can be quite a busy time, and as the mother of a newborn, your stress level is probably already through the roof. Here are a few tips from Milk N Mamas Baby to help you get through this holiday season without spreading yourself too thin or sacrificing the crucial care and attention your new baby needs.

Let Someone Else Host

If you’re accustomed to hosting friends and family during the holidays, it can be hard to let go. Of course, your brand new baby needs attention more than your circle, and nobody will think any less of you if you abdicate your hosting duties during baby’s first year. When the party’s at someone else’s house, you retain the option of ducking out early if things get too hectic for you and the baby, plus you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after everyone else leaves!

Breastfeeding during the Holidays

Your baby needs to eat on a regular schedule and missing feedings can be bad for your health, potentially leading to blocked milk ducts or even mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue. But what’s a new mom to do when baby’s usual feeding time falls during the family meal or some other inconvenient time? The short answer is simple: feeding your baby should be your priority, no matter what time of year it is. It’s important to stick to a schedule, even if it means leaving the room for a bit while your family does other things. Most likely, they will understand and encourage you to do whatever you must to take good care of their newest family member.

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

Before you set out on any holiday adventures, you and your partner need to get on the same page about boundaries related to how much contact family members should have with your new baby. Your family will no doubt be excited to meet your new addition, but if baby starts to get fussy, it might be a good time to reinforce those boundaries. If the little one is getting overstimulated, it’s probably best that you politely let your family know it’s time to give mom and baby some space.

The holidays can be a lot of fun but they can also be tremendously stressful, even without a new baby in tow. We hope that these tips will help you manage that stress so that you and your baby can have a joyous holiday season. Of course, accessories like nursing bras and automatic breast pumps can go a long way towards reducing your holiday stress. Before you close your browser, don’t forget to take a look at the range of products we sell here on our site at Milk N Mamas Baby. We’ve got lots of convenient products that can make your holiday season easier to manage, and you may be able to get some items for free through your health insurance. From all of us at Milk N Mamas, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year!