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What is finger-feeding?
Finger-feeding is an alternative feeding method for use when an infant cannot go to breast because of various medical problems, sucking issues, or because he or she is separated temporarily from his or her mother. The caregiver attaches a tube to one of his or her fingers. The tube connects to a container held in the hand. Then he or she gently inserts his or her finger into the baby’s mouth. The baby sucks simultaneously on the caregiver’s finger and the tube and is able to get milk.
Why finger-feed rather than bottle-feed or cup feed?
Bottle-feeding and cup feeding both carry some risks. Bottle-feeding, with its fast flow, can create nipple confusion or flow preference. Once a baby has been bottle-fed, they may not easily go back to breast and will need to be retrained. Cup feeding can present two issues: 1. The baby must lap milk from the cup or cup feeding device. This creates a lot of spillage. It is hard to know how much milk a baby takes in using this method; and 2. Long term use of cup feeding dampens the suck reflex making it harder for a baby to transition back to breast.
Additionally, finger-feeding confers advantages. The touch of human skin may influence the release of oxytocin in both caregiver and baby enhancing bonding and relaxation. The baby paces the finger-feed, a relative challenge during bottle or cup feeding. No leakage occurs during finger-feeding when the right technique and device are utilized. Finger-feeding encourages and even cultivates proper infant sucking. This is why it is becoming more and more popular as a technique when suck therapy is required.
What other finger-feeding devices exist?
Several makeshift devices can be fabricated for finger-feeding. Syringes with tubes attached, long tubes inserted into bottles, using supplementers designed for at breast use, etc. None of these devices is approved by the FDA for finger- feeding use. These devices may also be more difficult to handle during finger- feeding, requiring two hands.
What is the advantage of the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder over other finger- feeding devices?
- FDA approved
- Designed specifically for finger-feeding
- One handed use
- Baby paces the feed
- Skin to skin contact maximized
- No leakage
- Easy to assemble and clean
- BPA free
- Can be used over and over with a single baby
Where do I get the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder?
In the United States, The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder is available directly from Aidan and Éva, LLC. This item is not currently available for purchase outside of the United States.
How do I finger-feed?
Finger-feeding is easy; even a 10 year old can learn. Complete instructions are included in every package. See our page on this website for brief instructions. Instructions page link here.
When and how long should I finger-feed?
That depends on the needs of your baby and his or her particular issue. Your therapist will be the best source of information on how often, and how long. Some parents finger-feed instead of bottle feed when mom has to go back to work outside the home. In these instances, finger-feeding can be successfully combined with breastfeeding for as long as your baby needs an alternative feeding method.
Breastfeeding still remains the ideal way to feed babies. Finger-feeding should be used only as a means to correct sucking problems or to keep the baby well fed until he or she can go to breast.
Is there any research on finger-feeding?
One study in Australia found that finger-feeding as part of the feeding regimen ensured that a larger percentage of babies in the NICU were able to transition to breast successfully, whereas their bottle-feeding counterparts were less likely to do so. No other study has looked at finger-feeding. Our experience with finger- feeding is based on the many babies finger-fed every day.
Is the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder FDA approved?
During the development phase of the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder, a study was conducted by an independent researcher who found it to be safe and effective. This study, a requirement of the FDA, demonstrated that the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder was able to meet the FDA’s stringent requirements for infant feeding devices. The FDA approved the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder on this basis. At this time, the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder is the only device approved by the FDA for finger-feeding.
Are the materials used to make the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder safe for baby?
The medical grade silicon used for the tube, the valve membrane and milk container are FDA approved for infant feeding devices. The plastic used in the cap and tube clamp are BPA free and is also approved for infant feeding devices.
No reports of problems have ever been made about this device. Its safety record is pristine.
How do I clean the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder?
Washing in warm soapy suds after each use followed by rinsing with warm clear water cleans the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder after each use. The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder can also be sanitized in the dishwasher or microwave and is sterilizable by boiling or in an autoclave. Detailed cleaning instructions come in the package with the device.