Syringe Feeding a Baby – Step to Follow, Tips and Precautions

6 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Syringe Feeding a Baby

Once you’ve delivered your baby and you have them in your arms, the most beautiful thing would be to breastfeed them. Yes, many women find it very exciting to breastfeed their babies. But there might be some crucial factors that must be making it very difficult for a baby to respond to breastfeeding such as prematurity of the newborn, or the mother’s medical issues. In such circumstances, you may need to resort to some other methods such as syringe feeding a baby. This is another kind of feeding you can do under your doctor’s guidance so that your baby does not remain hungry for a long while.

In some cases, women take longer than usual to prepare their breasts so that they can breastfeed their children. They need some additional time to recover post-delivery. Another possible reason why a mother is unable to breastfeed their child is due to sensitive or sore breasts after delivery. This is not a situation to panic but to wait. Waiting to recover from post-delivery side effects may be the only option left with a mother. In such situations, alternative options for feeding your baby such as syringe feeding is the best solution. pregnancy pillow

In This Article

What is Syringe Feeding a Baby?

It is always strongly recommended to exclusively breastfeed a baby, especially during the first six months because breastmilk consists of all the essential nutrients required by the baby’s body in this growth stage. If a baby is not fed properly, their growth may slow down which will get unsafe.

In some cases, when a mother is not able to feed her child with breastmilk, they need to be fed with formula milk or expressed milk with the help of a syringe. This way the milk will reach directly into the mouth of the day without any needle. This form of feeding a baby is known as syringe feeding. Syringe feeding allows a baby to consume the mother’s milk with the help of specialized infant feeding syringes.

During the syringe feeding, the syringe’s tip is placed on the side of the baby’s mouth and this enables feeding. There are many kinds of syringes available for the baby’s feed but you must only buy them as per your doctor’s advice.

[Read : Benefits of Breastfeeding]

When is Syringe Feeding a Baby Done?

When is Syringe Feeding done

As we have already discussed above, syringe feeding takes place when breastfeeding is not possible. This happens when a mother has still not recovered from post-delivery complications or is not able to feed due to several reasons. Either her breasts have become soft or sagging or the baby itself is not able to suckle the breast milk.

Below are some kinds of scenarios where a baby needs to be fed from a syringe:

  • Mother is not able to feed her baby properly.
  • Baby is not able to suckle or latch the milk from their mother’s breast.
  • The baby is born with some rare condition or a birth defect such as cleft palate or cleft lip.
  • Premature babies with poor primitive reflexes.
  • Drowsiness in babies due to labor-induced drugs or medications.
  • Babies recovering from birth interventions.

[Read : Sagging Breasts After Pregnancy]

Steps to Follow to Feed a Newborn With a Syringe

step to follow for syringe feeding

Before you begin feeding your baby with a syringe, it is important to know a few steps so that you can do it in the right manner. If you are feeding your baby with breastmilk, you can directly feed with a syringe. However, if you are using formula milk to feed your newborn, it is better to follow the instructions written on the label so that the entire fluid passes through the syringe.

Here are the important steps you must follow when syringe feeding your baby.

  1. Do not touch the syringe with dirty hands. Your baby might catch the infection.
  2. Always make sure to clean your hands thoroughly with a hand wash or a soap to ensure cleanliness. Sanitizing is also a crucial step.
  3. Make yourself comfortable so that you can easily express the breast milk in a container, bottle, or flask.
  4. Ensure you settle your baby in a comfortable position. You may use cushions and baby pillows to support your baby.
  5. After that, take a clean, hygienic, and sterile syringe, as per your doctor’s recommendation.
  6. Draw the milk. To remove the air particles, press the plunger. Place the syringe aside.
  7. With the help of your fingers, gently stimulate your baby’s lips towards the syringe and encourage them to open up their mouth.
  8. Help your baby by placing your clean finger inside their mouth. This way the baby will start sucking the milk through the syringe through sucking reflex.
  9. During the process, make sure that the syringe is not placed deep inside your baby’s mouth as it can hurt them.
  10. Gently push the syringe’s plunger so that the milk flows into the mouth of your baby.
  11. When your baby has taken enough feed, stop plunging the milk into their mouth.
  12. Gently remove the syringe from your baby’s mouth and resume the same procedure the next time your baby asks for a feed again.

[Read : Sucking Reflex in Babies]

Top 5 Tips For Syringe Feeding a Baby

There are some tips that you need to follow if you are feeding your baby with a syringe. Follow the tips below to ensure safe feeding from a syringe.

  1. Make sure you decide about the baby’s placement right before beginning the feeding process. This is an important thing if you are feeding alone without having any helping hand by your side.
  2. Always place your baby in an upright position so that your baby can take the feed comfortably. If you feed your baby by laying them flat on your lap, this might harm them as it might choke them.
  3. Always use fresh containers to draw the milk. Also, make sure that the syringes are sterile to avoid unnecessary contamination to your newborn.
  4. Do not feed medicines to your baby with the help of a syringe. The medications can react with the milk present inside the syringe. Even if you prefer to feed your baby with medications using a syringe, make sure that they are separate and not the same.
  5. Some syringes are meant only for a limited number of feeds. Consult your doctor or read the syringe label carefully to know the same.

Precautions to Take When Syringe Feeding a Baby

Syringes for feeding breast milk

There are some precautions that you should take while feeding your baby with a syringe. Read them carefully below:

  • Only purchase sealed syringes or tubes to feed your baby and not the ones which are unsealed. This will raise safety concerns for your baby.
  • Even if you have a dishwasher at home, you can sterilize the same in a dishwasher. Not all the syringes are dishwasher safe so know if before actually washing them in a dishwasher.
  • To use the syringe again, you should clean them with soapy water, and let them dry.

Syringe feeding a baby becomes important under some unusual circumstances. While breastfeeding is recommended, your baby may need to be syringe fed under the recommendation of the doctors. It is important to follow the procedures and precautions properly to avoid infections, choking and other avoidable situations when syringe feeding a baby.


1. Is Syringe Feeding a Baby Better Than a Bottle?

Yes, for preterm infants who are at higher risk of acquiring infections, syringe feeding can be a better option than a bottle. This would ensure less risk of infections.

2. Can I Syringe Feed Formula to My Baby?

Well, syringe feeding is not just limited to just feeding breastmilk to your baby. It can also feed other things like the formula to babies. This is a versatile technique that can be used to feed your baby with multiple types of feeding.

3. Is Syringe Feeding Safe For My Baby?

Syringe feeding is considered safe only when you are required to feed your baby with smaller amounts of milk. This technique can be used after 2-3 days when your baby is born. But make sure to use a smaller syringe so that it does not hurt your infant.

Read Also: Spoon Feeding a Newborn – Why Should You Consider It?

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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