Breastfeeding After the First Six Months

Breastfeeding babies up to two years of age and beyond, with the addition of appropriate complementary foods, is recommended by Health Canada.

There are a number of benefits of breastfeeding baby beyond six months of age, including:

  • supports ongoing growth and development of your baby’s brain, gut, and other organs
  • continues to reduce childhood illness and infections, as children are commonly exposed to illnesses through other children and at daycare
  • promotes ongoing attachment between mother and baby
  • helps children become more independent and secure
  • reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes
  • decreases mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • saves the family money

Breast Changes After Six Months

After breastfeeding for six months, a mother’s breasts may feel and appear softer, smaller and less full – this is normal! Mothers will continue to produce enough milk for their baby. As well, breastfeeding intervals may become shorter – this means that baby has learned to take the amount of milk needed in a short period of time.

Infant Teething While Breastfeeding

Just because baby is teething, doesn’t mean it is time to wean. When baby is breastfeeding correctly, it will not be painful for the mother. If mothers have questions or concerns about baby biting while breastfeeding, they can contact the Health Unit to speak with a Family Health Nurse.

Nursing Strike

A nursing strike happens when a baby or toddler who has been breastfeeding well suddenly refuses to breastfed. This is not the same as weaning, as weaning typically happens over a gradual period of weeks or months. Nursing strikes can happen for a variety of reasons, including a mother changing her deodorant, soap, or perfume, a mother being under stress, or a baby has an illness or injury that makes breastfeeding uncomfortable (ear infection, stuffy nose, thrush). Other reasons may be a recent change to the breastfeeding pattern, baby has sore gums from teething, or mother frightened the baby when she reacted strongly to being bitten while breastfeeding.

How to Get Baby Back to the Breast

  • be patient and remember that the baby is not rejecting the mother
  • get extra help with household chores and older children
  • relax and concentrate on making breastfeeding a pleasant experience
  • comfort the baby by cuddling, stroking, and providing skin-to-skin contact
  • offer the breast when baby is sleepy or asleep
  • breastfeed in a quiet room with the lights dimmed
  • try rocking or walking while breastfeeding
  • expressing breastmilk to keep your milk supply up
  • stimulate the let-down reflex and get milk flowing before offering the breast
  • feed baby expressed milk with a cup, eye-dropper, syringe or spoon
  • seek medical attention if an illness or injury seems to have caused the strike
  • get help – Family Health nurses at the Health Unit can answer questions about feeding baby

Skin-to-Skin

Skin-to-Skin… Important for ALL Babies

The first hours of snuggling skin-to-skin help you and your baby bond and get to know each other. Hold your baby belly-down on your chest or tummy immediately after birth. Keep cuddling skin-to-skin as often as possible in the months after birth. The benefits for bonding and breastfeeding continue long after that. Safe skin-to-skin is also better for babies born prematurely or by Caesarean birth.

Safe skin-to-skin is easy. Here’s how:

  • Take off your baby’s blankets and clothing. Leave diaper on
  • Move clothing away from your chest and tummy
  • Choose a safe sleeping or resting area where you can sit in a semi reclined position
  • Hold your baby, facing you, against your chest and/or tummy
  • Make sure your baby can easily breathe by nose and mouth and can easily lift their head and turn from side to side
  • Make sure baby’s arms are not curled under his/her body
  • You can put a blanket over you and your baby
  • Enjoy the closeness and bonding with your baby

If you haven’t held your baby skin-to-skin yet, start now! It’s not too late.

Benefits of Holding your Baby Skin-to-Skin

Babies:

  • Breastfeed better
  • Cry less and are calmer
  • Stay warmer
  • Enjoy more comfort from you
  • Have better blood sugar levels
  • Are protected by some of your good bacteria

Mothers:

  • Breastfeed more easily
  • Learn when your baby is getting hungry
  • Bond more with your baby
  • Gain confidence and satisfaction caring for your baby

Breastfeeding:

  • Your baby is more likely to have a successful first breastfeed
  • Your baby may breastfeed sooner and longer
  • You will make more breast milk
  • Helps your baby breastfeed when sleepy

Families and Skin-to-skin: Your family members can also spend skin-to-skin time with your baby. If you have a partner, plan safe skin-to-skin time together with your baby. It’s a great way for you and your partner to spend time together and bond with your baby.

To learn more, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 and speak with a Healthy Families nurse.

Cue-Based Feeding

Cue-based feeding means watching your baby to know when they are hungry and when they have had enough food. It’s important to follow your baby’s lead and watch for early signs (cues) that your baby is hungry. Remember to be flexible – it is normal for feeding patterns to change from day-to-day. Every baby is unique and you should not compare your baby’s feeding schedule to others or base it on the clock.

Knowing When Your Baby is Hungry

Babies show early signs of being hungry. Some early signs your baby is ready to eat:

  • rapid eye movement during light sleep
  • turning head side-to-side
  • wiggling, moving arms and legs
  • hand to mouth movements
  • sucking sounds and movements
  • soft cooing or sighing sounds

Crying is a late hunger sign and it is best to recognize the cues and feed your baby before they start to cry.

Signs Your Baby May Be Full
  • sucking actions slow down
  • losing interest or letting go of nipple
  • rooting will stop
  • turning head away

To learn more about cue-based feeding, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 and speak with a Family Health Nurse.

Additional Resources:

Baby Feeding Cues – Queensland Government

Getting Off to a Good Start with Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a learning experience for both baby and mother. It takes patience and practice, but it’s worth it!

Helping Your Baby to Breastfeed

Additional Resources:

Ten Valuable Tips for Successful Breastfeeding – Health Canada

To learn more about breastfeeding, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 and speak with a Family Health Nurse.

Making an Informed Decision: How to Feed Your Baby

This is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. The information on this website will help you make an informed decision. It is important to start breastfeeding shortly after birth as it may be challenging if you decide to start later. Also, if you stop breastfeeding at any time, it may be difficult to restart.

Importance of Breastfeeding

Breast milk, or human milk, is naturally made for babies. It is all that a baby needs for the first six months and continues to be important for up to two years and beyond. Babies can start foods at approximately six months of age.

Birth Control and Breastfeeding

Resources:

10 Great Reasons to Breastfeed Your Baby – Public Health Agency of Canada

For more information about feeding your baby, contact a Family Health Nurse at the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577.

Soothers and Pacifiers

It’s important to know all the facts so you can make an informed decision about giving your infant a soother. Know the facts about soothers.

Still have questions? Call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003 to speak with a Family Health Nurse.

Risks of Using a Soother:

  • Soothers can interfere with successful breastfeeding. It can decrease the time a baby spends sucking at the breast, which can affect mom’s milk supply.
  • A soother is not nutritious and can impact a baby’s growth if it is used to replace breastfeeding.
  • A baby could develop a preference to the soother and refuse to breastfeed, making exclusive breastfeeding more difficult.
  • Using a soother can interfere with exclusive breastfeeding, it can make the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) an ineffective choice of contraception.
  • If not cleaned properly, soothers can carry germs.
  • If not used properly, soothers can be a choking hazard.
  • Ear infections and dental problems are more common with soother use and can be related to abnormal oral muscle function.
  • Overusing a soother can affect your child’s ability to learn to talk and can Lead to teeth problems.

If you have made an informed decision to use a soother, here are some tips to consider:

  • Wait until your baby is breastfeeding well and your milk supply is established (around four to six weeks) before offering a soother. If you feel you need to introduce a soother at an earlier stage, talk to your health care provider.
  • Always make sure your baby is not hungry, tired, or cold before giving a soother.
  • Avoid using a soother to delay you baby’s feedings. Always follow your baby’s feeding cues.
  • Sterilize the soother by boiling it in water for two minutes before the first use. Allow it to completely cool down before giving it to your baby. After each use, wash it with hot, soapy water. Don’t “clean” the soother by sucking on it yourself as it can spread germs from you to your child, including bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.
  • Always make sure the soother is not damaged and is free of cracks. Throw it out if it is damaged. Soothers should be replaced every two months.
  • Never let your baby or child chew on a soother. It could become damaged and cause choking and death.
  • Do not tie anything around your baby’s neck, this can cause strangulation and death. Clips with short ribbons attached to them are safe to use and are available where you buy soothers.
  • Don’t make your own soother out of bottle nipples, caps, or other materials. This can cause choking and death.
  • Children should not crawl or walk with a soother in their mouth.
  • Soothers should never be dipped in anything sweet. This can lead to tooth decay. Also, using honey can lead to botulism, which is a type of food poisoning.
  • Sometimes premature or sick babies like to suck for comfort. Talk with your health care provider or lactation consultant for help.

Supporting the Breastfeeding Family

The Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI)

The HKPR District Health Unit supports the World Health Organization’s Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and Subsequent Resolutions. This is the Health Unit’s promise to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

BFI is a global strategy to protect, promote and support breastfeeding all around the world. The Health Unit provides a comfortable environment for breastfeeding and provides support to parents to make informed decisions about feeding their children. We are working towards making our communities Baby-Friendly. For more information on BFI, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 or visit The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada website.

Additional Resources:

BFI (video) – HKPR District Health Unit

Feeding your Baby

Your Health Unit is here to support you!

Family Health staff can answer any questions you have about feeding your baby. Watch this video to learn about one-on-one Breastfeeding Support available for breastfeeding women.

Call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 for more details.

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