HOW you decide to feed your baby is your own choice.
But whether mums opt for breast or bottle, health chiefs want to get the message across that feeding time is about connecting with your baby and not the best time to be distracted with tweeting or internet shopping.
The need to multi-task has never been greater, but in the race to get things done, parents could be missing out on precious time with their baby, because it seems more and more parents have got into the habit of feeding their baby in one arm while fiddling away on their phones or iPads at the same time.
To mark World Breastfeeding Week this week, specialist feeding midwives at Basildon Hospital are encouraging mums and dads to step away from their mobile phones, tablets and televisions and get back to basics with their tots.
Geraldine Purver, specialist feeding midwife at the hospital, said: “It’s about making the time for your children and enjoying them, because they aren’t little for long.
“Society has structured us to think in order to give our children the best, we have to spend a fortune.
“Actually, the most valuable thing you can give them is your time and attention. They bask in it and thrive on it, even when they’re in the womb.”
Lisette Harris, specialist feeding midwife, also at Basildon, added: “It’s well publicised that breast is best. Breastfeeding allows you to give the baby instant food, love, warmth and comfort.
“There’s no preparation with breastfeeding – the milk is the perfect temperature and there’s no sterilising to do.
“If you do bottle feed, don’t just prop a bottle in their mouth.
Take the time to cuddle your babywhile you are feeding them.
“Sit with them, talk to them, spend time with them. It helps their brain development, their self-esteem, their confidence and teaches them about communicating.”
Basildon Hospital became the first in the East of England to achieve full Unicef UK Baby Friendly Accreditation. The department is due for reaccreditation in 2016 and the focus is now on putting the baby at the centre of care by helping parents build a loving relationship with their children.
This means encouraging interaction with them – not getting distracted by modern technology, such as mobiles, tablets or the television.
Lisette explained: “To understand your baby and raise a happy and content child, you have to listen to their cues and observe them in order to understand their needs. You cannot do that if they are in another room or if you are distracted by Twitter.”
Research shows it’s never too early to start the bonding process. Babies in the womb develop their hearing at about 20 weeks, so the time parents spend talking to the bump, playing music and having physical contact, helps the bonding process and their brain development.
And this continues after they are born.
Geraldine added: “Babies don’t realise until they are nine months old they are a separate person to their mother, so you cannot spoil a newborn with too many cuddles or make a rod for your own back.
“Newborns need physical contact to feel secure, safe and loved.
But by depriving a child of that physical interaction you can actually be neglectful and cause long-lasting damage.”
For more information and support about feeding your baby, download the free Feeding Together app. Visit www.feeding together.com Also join Feeding Together on Facebook and follow on Twitter.
All, obviously when your baby is asleep!
For more information about World Breastfeeding Week visit, worldbreastfeedingweek.org/