My very first “real job” during college was as an assistant teacher in a child care center. Granted, this was nearly 20 years ago! But it made SUCH an impact on me, that I still dream about the caregivers and families! What an amazing experience to have!
One of my first big tasks, as I was studying Child Development at the time, was to help set up the environment for the new infant room. It was a challenge, but I was excited! We were able to purchase a few new items, and rearrange the space so that babies had a feeding area, a sleeping area, a changing space, and an area for play and tummy time. I was really beginning to understand the amount of learning and bonding that occurs during that first year of life!
One of the first tips I learned from a veteran teacher, and went on to find out that it is actually a recommendation from many national organizations, is to NEVER prop the bottle and leave baby in a seat to drink. At first, I didn’t see why not. What’s the harm? If the baby didn’t mind, and I could be getting other work done, who was I hurting?
Well, here is why…and I share this with many caregivers and parents that I encounter…
Bottle feeding is an alternative to breast feeding, which is a perfectly fine alternative! I was a bottle fed baby, and I think I turned out just great! (hee hee!) But ideally, we want to replicate the benefits of breast feeding. Would we hand a baby our breast and walk away? NO! Not possible. By having them close to our bodies and wrapped in our arms, rocking, talking softly, gazing in to each other’s eyes, we are building a lovely bond between caregiver and infant! This is ESSENTIAL TO HUMAN LIFE! Babies NEED to be held, and to make a connection to their food source, via breast or bottle, and via caregiver or mother.
The primary relationship under age three is between caregiver and baby. And one of the primary needs of a baby is to be fed. It is a perfect opportunity for attachment to occur. We all need to form attachments. It is part of how we learn and build relationships!
So please don’t prop the bottle up with a blanket or other object and leave baby in a seat. Hold your baby during feeding as often as you can. It is nature’s way, and you won’t regret it.