Instructions for Finger Feeding
Position yourself and baby in a proper feeding position such as that shown in the photo. Placing a pillow under baby will make feeding more comfortable for both of you by raising the baby to chest height.
Young babies tend to orient to the right so holding the baby with your left hand and finger-feeding with your right can capitalize on this tendency. However, you may use whichever side you and your baby feel most comfortable using.
Keep your shoulders and elbows down and relaxed to reduce muscle strain. Support yourself with extra pillows if needed to achieve this goal.
Gently tickle your baby’s lower lip in the middle, in an up and down direction to elicit both the rooting and tongue extrusion reflexes. Keep tickling, just as you would with the breast or bottle, until the baby opens as wide as he or she can.
When you see the “gape,” gently insert your finger, pad up, against the hard palate near the upper gumline. The baby will bring up his or her tongue to create a seal around your finger. If your baby is still tongue-tied or is weak, he or she may not do this well. Eventually, this ability will improve.
As the baby starts the sucking sequence, move your finger back to near the hard and soft palate juncture where the breast nipple would go if the baby were at breast. While moving your finger back, keep your finger pad in gentle contact with the hard palate. If your finger drops down on the tongue, your baby may gag.
Once you have reached the appropriate “landmark,” keep your finger in the same position and stationary unless your therapist directs you to perform certain movements. There is usually no need to squeeze the bulb unless your baby needs a therapeutic reminder or is so weak that he or she needs a little extra help. Allow the baby to set the pace. He or she will do best synchronizing suck, swallow and breathe if allowed to determine the right pace for that feed.
Typically, when satisfied, your baby will stop sucking or will try to push your finger out of his or her mouth using his or her tongue. At this point, your baby is either full or needs to burp. Young babies older than a few days need from ¾ to 1½ oz. per feed. Older babies may need more. Follow your baby’s lead. The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder holds 2 oz. and is easy to refill mid-feed as needed.