Finding a caregiver whom you can trust to parent your baby in a sensitive way is vitally important to your baby’s welfare and your peace of mind while you are working. You also want a caregiver who is supportive of breastfeeding. Share information about the benefits of breastfeeding and about how your baby is growing and thriving on your milk. Be sure to tell your caregiver how much being able to continue breastfeeding means to you, and thank this person for helping to make this possible.
If your baby’s caregiver is unfamiliar with breastfed babies and handling expressed human milk, you’ll need to gently and tactfully educate her. Tell her about thawing and heating your milk (written instructions may be helpful), and work out a system for preparing, labeling, and storing the baby’s bottles. Make this as simple as possible so that the caregiver can devote her attention to the baby, not the bottle. Feeding a baby human milk is no more difficult than preparing formula.
To make feedings easier on your caregiver and your baby, try these tips:
- Freeze milk in small amounts that thaw more quickly.
- Thaw the amount of milk needed for each day overnight in the refrigerator. Any milk left after 24 hours will have to be discarded, but if your baby’s milk consumption is fairly predictable, you can do this without worrying about waste.
- Your caregiver could try offering your baby cold milk from the refrigerator. Some babies don’t mind, but most prefer it warm like at the breast.
- Tell the caregiver that you want your baby held for all feedings, and that your baby should be picked up whenever he cries or fusses.
- If baby is still learning to take a bottle, share the list of suggestions for getting baby to accept a bottle with your caregiver.
Breastfed babies depend on mother’s breasts for comfort as well as food. Your baby’s caregiver may have to find ways of soothing your baby beyond offering a bottle. Breastfed babies are used to being held while they are fed, and in general, they tend to be in mother’s arms more than babies who are formula-fed. Here are some ways that your caregiver can fill in for mom in other ways besides feeding.
- Do not prop bottles. Breastfed babies are accustomed to being held while they are fed.
- Pick up the baby whenever he cries or fusses. Breastfed babies are used to being in someone’s arms much of the day. They’ll be happier if the caregiver holds them often, or even wears them in a sling.
- A baby may finish the milk in a bottle quickly and still want to suck. He may not need more milk, just more sucking and/or more holding. The caregiver could offer a pacifier or a clean adult finger to suck on.
- Rocking or walking can help a baby fall asleep if mother is not there for nursing.Babies who are accustomed to having their needs met promptly will go on demanding the conditions that help maintain their inner peace. This is good, even if it does make more work for the caregiver. Help your caregiver see these behaviors in a positive light: your baby is smart enough to know what she needs and to ask for it.
Whatever you do, don’t back down from expecting that your caregiver meet your baby’s needs for human milk and human comfort. It can be hard to stand firm, especially if you are a first-time mother. Your caregiver may have many years of childcare experience, and the word “spoiling” is always in the air. Remember, you can’t spoil a tiny baby. Responding to an infant’s cries teaches a baby to trust, and this is a vitally important emotional skill.
You are the expert on your baby, and others are obligated to respect your judgment. If your baby’s caregiver refuses to honor your wishes, it’s time to look for another caregiver. On the other hand, be sure to let your baby’s caregiver know how much her high level of caring for your baby means to you. Find ways to compensate her for going “above and beyond,” either monetarily with a raise in pay or by other means that only you can think of as you forge a closer bond with this special person in your baby’s life. After all, she and your baby are more bonded because of the way she is caring for him, and that’s a good thing for all of you.
Rocking or walking can help a baby fall asleep if mother is not there for nursing.Babies who are accustomed to having their needs met promptly will go on demanding the conditions that help maintain their inner peace. This is good, even if it does make more work for the caregiver. Help your caregiver see these behaviors in a positive light: your baby is smart enough to know what she needs and to ask for it.