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Baby Care Tips #18 — Breastfeed on demand for an intelligent baby!

Here is another benefit of breastfeeding that you don't want to miss out on.

There is an eternal debate on whether babies (both newborn and preemies) should be fed on-demand or should have a fixed schedule for feeding. This might seem to be a personal choice as the mother s comfort level, lactation, baby s sleep time and a lot of other factors come into consideration. However, there are many studies that indicate that on demand feeding is better for babies as compared to having a fixed feeding schedule. Here is a step-by-step guide on breastfeeding for new mothers.

While many experts and doctors believe that following a routine for feeding will help the baby eat well, nourish and gain weight consistently. However, one drawback of routine feeding is that it leads to poor cognitive development [1]. A study published in European Journal of Public Health revealed that mothers who fed their baby on a schedule were more relaxed, suffered less depression, had longer sleep duration but when cognitive output of their child was measured at the age of five, seven, eight and 11, it was seen that these babies fared less academically as compared to their demand-fed counterparts. Here are eight reasons why breastfeeding is good for the mother too.

In fact, demand-feeding is more beneficial for preemies too. Instead, of a fixed feeding schedule, demand feeding leads to better volume suction per feed, increases feeding speed and shortens the duration of the feeds too [2]. However, it also leads to better weight gain and promotes healthy well-being in premature infants. Here is how to take care of your premature born baby at home.

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So, next time you are tempted to wake up your sleeping baby to feed because you want to maintain a routine, just stop and think once. If you have a letdown or engorgement between feeds and want to wake up your baby to initiate suction and ease engorgement, better use a hand pump or a breast pump to collect the milk and refrigerator it to feed your baby later. However, if you are a working mother and store milk so the caregiver can feed your baby when you are away, try practising demanding feeding when back home.

Reference

1. Iacovou M, Sevilla A. Infant feeding: the effects of scheduled vs. on-demand feeding on mothers' wellbeing and children's cognitive development. Eur J Public Health. 2013 Feb;23(1):13-9. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cks012. Epub 2012 Mar 14. PubMed PMID: 22420982; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3553587.

2. Chang SR, Chen KH. Demand feeding for healthy premature newborns: a randomized crossover study. J Formos Med Assoc. 2004 Feb;103(2):112-7. PubMed PMID:15083241.

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