There are many tips and tricks to help new parents get their baby through their first cold and ailments. Creams for diaper rash, trusty infant pain relievers for teething, and a wide variety of fancy thermometers are all within reach. But when it comes to the more mysterious issues that surround nursing and feeding, the answers suddenly seem few and far between. What are parents to do when their baby is struggling to take a bottle or nurse?
If your newborn struggles with eating well, it can be very stressful for you and your baby. Fortunately, it is also something that your pediatrician can help you navigate and troubleshoot.
“While the mechanics of eating for babies are very complicated, it is also predictable, and there are several things you can look for to try to solve the problem at home,” says Dr. Steven Goudy, a pediatric ENT and founder of Dr. Noze Best.
Three essential steps: suck, swallow, breathe
Even before babies are born, they are practicing eating and swallowing in utero by drinking small amounts of amniotic fluid. This practice prepares them for the moment they are placed on their mother’s chest or given their very first bottle. When you see a baby nursing or feeding well, you will notice that they get into a rhythm and then repeat it over and over: suck-swallow-breathe.
- Suck: The initiation of the swallow starts with suction. Babies use their tongue to cup the nipple or bottle and create a suction force with the tongue and palate. This action involves coordination of the muscles in the tongue and palate to pull the milk or formula out. Once your baby has created the suction force and pulled the milk or formula out of the breast or bottle, it is propelled to the back of the throat.
- Swallow: Unlike sucking, swallowing is a reflex, and therefore not an action your baby can control. The presence of milk or formula in the throat causes a swallowing reflex where the voice box elevates and closes, the swallowing tube (esophagus) opens, and the throat muscles contract to push the milk down towards the stomach.
- Breathe: After that, your baby needs to take a breath before starting over.
Obviously, if your baby is not eating well, you may not see this pattern. In fact, you may not see a pattern at all. If you are concerned about your baby’s feeding, identify which step(s) are the issue. For example, if latching is a challenge, your baby may not be able to effectively create a seal on the breast or bottle. This could be related to structural issues (e.g., tongue tie) and should be evaluated. Swallowing patterns can be impacted if there is significant nasal blockage or if there are other medical factors (e.g., prematurity. Breathing is the most basic requirement and can be impacted by a cold or excess phlegm (e.g., reflux of formula/breast milk into the nose.
It is especially important for infants to have adequate breast milk or infant formula. If you ever have a question about whether your infant is feeding well, don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician. They may want to refer you to an otolayrngologist (ENT) and/or a lactation consultant who can conduct a more thorough examination. These professionals are dedicated to helping you and and your infant get the best possible start – including navigating the new and challenging terrain of parenthood.
How the NozeBot can help
If your baby is not breathing well due to congestion from a cold or allergies, feeding can become a challenge. The NozeBot is a simple and effective solution for keeping little noses clear. Help your baby breathe easy (and suck and swallow, too) with hospital-grade suction.
Here’s what real parents are saying about the NozeBot:
Take it from a first-time parent starved for sleep and relief, the NozeBot is a must-buy. Its ease of use and simple design make it the perfect answer to clearing out your baby's nostrils. The components are also dishwasher safe. And not only does it contain the mess, it allows you to keep one hand free so you can thumb through cell phone photos of your life before you had your child. As my mother from South America would say, "compra el nozebot ahora." – Snotty baby
“Best $$ spent. Seriously.”
I don't mean it lightly, this is truly the best hundred bucks we spent for our little girl…Having used this little nosedevil a few times and hearing and watching the snot get pulled out, it is my new ZEN. My only regret is not getting it [sooner] – Quilter
The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition for you or your child.