Supporting Breastfeeding in Child Care

by Lauren George, Infant and Toddler Specialist

You have a new baby starting and Mom hands you a bottle. She says “Charlie eats three ounces every two hours.  Here is his milk.  He is breastfed.”  You freak out.  “I’ve never had a breastfed baby before. This cannot be enough milk. What am I supposed to do with this?!”  All these things start racing through your mind.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BREASTFED AND FORMULA-FED BABIES

Yes…breastfed and formula fed infants eat differently, and that can be overwhelming when you aren’t sure what to expect.  And yes, three ounces is enough!  Unlike formula-fed babies, breastfed babies eat based on calories, not volume of milk.  They also typically each much more often than formula-fed babies.  You can expect a breastfed baby to each between 2.5 ounces to 5 ounces every 1.5 to 3 hours.  On the other hand, a formula fed baby is likely eating 6 to 8 ounces of milk every four to five hours.  That’s a huge difference when you compare them!

And what do you do with the breast milk, you may ask!? The same thing you do with formula – handle it as a food. Breast milk can be stored in the same refrigerator as formula and can be stored both fresh or frozen.  It can be heated in the same warmer or under running warm water, and you don’t need gloves to handle it.  See…it is easier than you thought!

SUPPORTING BREASTFEEDING MOMS

And lastly – Mom may need your support.  Tell her she is doing a great job providing breast milk for her baby.  Offer her a place within the classroom where she can nurse at drop off, pick up, and on her break if she chooses to.  Know what resources are available for her in your community, like local support groups or the contact information of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), in case she has any bumps along her breastfeeding journey.

Cover image by Flickr user Jeff Snodgrass, Creative Commons license.

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