Natural Feeding Techniques

The most important aspect of feeding your newborn is ensuring she is fed. Her wet diapers tell you that you are being successful. It does not matter if you use the breast or formula, if it is a choice or not. Whether you breast- or bottle feed, there are techniques recommended to make it as natural as possible for the baby. Breastfeeding mamas will want to try the breast crawl while bottle fed babies do best with the paced feeding.

The Breast Crawl

The recommendation after birth is to feed your newborn as soon as possible, generally within the first hour. Many new parents and doctors assume this needs to be done by placing the baby directly onto the nipple. This, however, is extremely unnatural to the baby. You may relate it to someone shoving a sandwich in your face and telling you to eat. Instead, try the breast crawl.

The breast crawl starts by placing the baby on your abdomen with her head between your breasts. That is all you need to do. Your baby knows where she is by feeling and smelling. When she is ready to nurse, she can actually crawl – unassisted – onto the nipple and begin nursing. This technique helps to create a successful nursing relationship from the beginning, which is important for both Momma and baby. The breast crawl is instinctive and allows

  • Momma and baby to bond
  • Momma to establish milk supply
  • Baby to feel secure in new environment

This technique can be used at any time in your baby’s life and is not only for newborns. It allows your baby to find the breast and get nutrition as they want rather than feeling forced.

 Paced Bottle Feeding

Some parents choose or need to bottle feed their babies for various reasons. It may be too overwhelming for a sleep deprived Momma or there may be a medical issue that stops milk production. Either way, bottle feeding is not natural for the baby. This makes it more difficult to ensure your baby is fully satiated without being overstuffed. Many parents actually overfeed their babies thinking they are showing signs of hunger rather than stress. Paced bottle feeding is a technique that simulates breastfeeding and works for both breastmilk and formula.

Paced bottle feeding starts by placing the baby in a slightly upright position so that the back and head are aligned. Rather than you putting the bottle in the baby’s mouth, let your baby choose when to take it in. To signal that the bottle is there, you may want to gently touch the tip of the nipple to the nose or chin. These are natural signs called rooting that signal the breast is ready for the baby. Once accepted, keep the bottle horizontal so that milk fills the nipple, but don’t continue to tip the bottle down. After approximately three sucks, bring the nipple out of the mouth and rest it on his lips. He will let you know through fussing or nodding his head that he wants more. Continue until your baby no longer eats.

Paced bottle feeding not only mimics breastfeeding, but has other positive aspects as well such as

  • Lower rates of GERD in babies
  • Lower rates of babies overeating
  • Lower rates of colic
  • Higher rates of continuing or transferring to breastfeeding if wanted


It is important to note that breastfed and bottlefed babies generally turn into healthy, smart, successful toddlers. These techniques will help you get to that stage. Breastfeeding is what comes naturally to a newborn because it is the instincts they are born with. Paced bottle feeding can help mamas who use bottles meet these same instincts as best as possible.

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