Babies Feed With Their Whole Selves!
There is a wealth of literature that demonstrates that infants are not merely passive recipients of nutrition. Feeding is a multi sensory experience for us, and babies are no different! They use their arms, legs, trunk, mouths, faces, eyes, noses, hands, toes...so they need access to all of their parts in order to participate fully. So SET THEM FREE! Uncover, unswaddle, undress, free the hands and feet, pull your little close, and watch them do what they were born to do!
Let's take a closer look at how babies use their senses and their body parts to facilitate and initiate self-attachment and feeding! Most of this information is presented for facilitating breast/bodyfeeding, but much of it is applicable to babies being fed via other means (bottle, SNS, tube, etc.). Babies shouldn't miss out on these early sensorimotor experiences and skin to skin time because they're not being fed directly from a breast! Contact your local IBCLC to learn more about how to incorporate this info for your baby.
Babies use arms and hands to:
Facilitate movement toward the breast
Transfer smells and tastes to their face from the breast
Push and pull (themselves on you, or the breast itself) to position the breast in proximity to their mouth
Shape the nipple for easier latching
Locate the nipple
Suck for calming self-regulation
Hug the breast to provide stability to the body to maximize head and oral control
Think about this: Babies with oral restrictions may rely MORE on the use of their hands to explore when the tongue is limited in mobility with the mouth gaping!
Babies use eyes to:
Locate the nipple (the darker areola provides a contrast against the skin color, making the
nipple a visual target for baby!)