Spoon Feeding a Newborn – Why Should You Consider It?

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Spoon Feeding a Newborn

Breastfeeding comes naturally to all newborn babies. When it comes to difficulties with breastfeeding, we are aware of the milk supply and other issues a mother faces. Did you know babies can have trouble sucking too? In such situations, spoon feeding a newborn is a common practice.

Have you ever seen a nurse, or a mother feed a newborn some breastmilk with a spoon? Did you know many doctors recommend spoon-feeding to bottle-feeding to encourage breastfeeding in babies? Many doctors and hospitals are against bottle feeding a newborn, as a policy.

In This Article

Why Breastmilk is Important For a Baby?

Breastmilk contains all the essential nutrients that promote the growth and development of the baby and helps build a baby’s immunity too. It contains bacteria which is good for the baby’s gut health and immunity.

Why Consider a Spoon, Pallada, or Cup For Feeding a Baby?

cup feeding a baby

It is always a better option to use a spoon, pallada, fillers, or even syringes over bottles because these methods-

  • Help avoid nipple confusion.
  • Provide better control over milk flow.
  • Babies need not put in any effort to feed (sucking requires a lot of effort).

Is Spoon Feeding Better Than Bottle Feeding?

Yes, many doctors believe so and have even gone to the extent of discontinuing bottle feeds as a policy for their patients. Bottle-feeding requires a baby to put in a lot of effort which is not possible in most cases.

When Should You Consider Spoon Feeding a Newborn?

Low Birth Weight baby

Direct breastfeeding is the best option. However, we do not live in the ideal situation at all times. Here are a few times when you need to consider spoon feeding.

1. Low Birth Weight/ Pre-Term Babies

Babies born with very low birth weight or pre-term may not have enough strength to suck or may lack coordination between sucking and swallowing. Spoons, syringes, pallada, and cups do not require the baby to suck.

[Read : Helping A Low Birth Weight Baby]

2. Poor Reflexes

Some babies can be born with a poor sucking reflex, a cleft palate(whether with a cleft lip or without) or birth asphyxia. In each of these cases, the baby will have difficulty sucking and swallowing the milk.

3. Sick Mother

If the mother is still recovering from her C-section or has other complications post-delivery, someone else will have to feed the expressed breastmilk to the baby.

How Should You Spoon Feed Your Baby?

Spoon feeding breastmilk to a newborn baby is very different from spoon-feeding solid or semi-solid foods to a toddler. Follow these steps to successfully spoon-feed your baby

  • Express breastmilk into a clean and sterile container. You can use the breast pump or use your hands.
  • Hold your baby in the crook of your arm or hold the baby’s head in a slightly tilted position – similar to a breastfeeding position.
  • Take 3/4th spoon of milk and offer it to the baby by pressing the spoon on the lower lip. Ensure you press down the tongue too.
  • Now slowly pour the milk through the sides of the mouth. If you pour it straight to the throat, the baby will only choke on it and can’t swallow or breathe.
  • Do not take the spoon off the tongue and lower lip until all the milk is swallowed. If you take the spoon while milk is still in the mouth, the baby will close their mouth, which can cause them to gag or spit.
  • Halfway through the feed, burp the baby and then continue.

Top Advantages of Spoon Feeding a Baby

When you spoon-feed your baby instead of resorting to the bottle, you can enjoy the following benefits.

  • It is more hygienic than the bottle as you can wash steel spoons and cups better than a bottle.
  • A mother can learn the feeding process quickly and help her baby gain weight faster.
  • Once the baby is ready to breastfeed directly, the transition will be smoother than from a bottle.

[Read : Breastfeeding Your Baby- How to Get Started]

Top 5 Tips to Spoon Feed Your Baby

Tips to Spoon Feed Your Baby

Not too sure about spoon-feeding your tiny baby? Use these tips:

  • Start feeding the baby before they get too hungry and start crying inconsolably.
  • Always have 5ml extra milk than what they can consume, as milk can spill easily from spoons.
  • Use a small spoon that is easy to hold.
  • Always have a burp cloth by your side to wipe away spills.
  • Do not tilt the baby’s head too far back as it will cause them to gag.

If you or your baby are unable to breastfeed, there is no harm in adopting alternate methods of feeding and spoon feeding a baby is one of them. Breastmilk if available, should be the first priority for feeding a baby. However, the means and ways of feeding do not really matter as long as the baby is getting the needed nutrition of mother’s milk or formula milk depending on the situation.

[Read : How to Know Your Baby is Hungry – Know the Signs]


1. At What Age Should You Stop Spoon Feeding a Newborn?

When the baby gets stronger and develops the sucking reflex, you should stop spoon-feeding. Stopping will encourage the baby to put in the effort and suck.

2. How do You Know Your Baby is Ready to Stop Spoon Feeding?

If you notice your baby is trying to suck from the spoon or syringe and is able to swallow freely, you can try discontinuing spoon-feeding. They will take time to adapt to breastfeeding but with time and patience, they eventually will.

3. Can You Simultaneously Bottle Feed and Spoon Feed a Baby?

Technically, you can but medically it is not recommended. Spoon feeding is for babies that can’t suck a breast. Giving them a bottle and expecting them to put in more effort to suck and swallow is not a realistic expectation.

Read Also: Cup Feeding a Baby – How To Do, Benefits and Alternatives

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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