Breastfeeding Prep for New Moms

If you’ve decided to give breastfeeding a try, you may be wondering where to start and what to do. Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally to new moms, so it’s smart to do some prep work while you’re still pregnant so you know what to expect. Here are a few tips to consider before you start nursing your new baby:

Stock up on nursing bras. Easy access when you’re nursing is important, so think about purchasing a couple of nursing bras in the middle of your third trimester. Get fitted by an experienced salesperson (you want a little bit of room to grow towards the end of your pregnancy). Start with two bras for now and then get more as you need them.

Attend a breastfeeding class. Attending a nursing course will give you a preview of what to expect; it’s also a chance to ask questions you may have about the process. Many childbirth classes also include breastfeeding instruction, so don't worry if you can't find a class that's exclusively about breastfeeding. To find a class near you, call the hospital where you’ll be giving birth, ask your health care provider, or check out local message boards or mom groups.

Purchase the gear. If you plan to return to work after the birth of your new baby, a breast pump will be invaluable. It’s normal to leak a little when your milk starts to come in, so pick up a few breast pads to insert into your nursing bras. Finally, a nursing pillow may also come in handy, as many new moms find it to be very helpful for propping up their baby when nursing; others use regular bed or couch pillows for the same result.

Find a lactation consultant. Starting off on the right foot when you’re nursing is a lot easier if you have some professional support. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy at first, and it’s possible you may struggle with figuring out certain positions or getting your new baby to latch-on. You may want to make an appointment with a lactation consultant in advance of your birth to get must-know tips, or schedule it for soon after your delivery. Many hospitals will have lactation consultants and nurses available to help you start nursing right after your baby is born.

The best breastfeeding experience starts with a bit of planning. Ask your friends and family for their advice, too, as you get ready, and call on them for support as you begin nursing your new baby. Don’t worry if you can’t stick with it for as long as you’d like -- any nursing you do will have a positive effect on your baby.

Remembering Baby Milestones: Solid Food

I loved breastfeeding Isabel, my firstborn, but after several months of doing it around the clock, I was ready for a change. I couldn’t wait to break out those tiny jars of baby food and was excited to see what her reaction would be to the colors, textures, and new flavors. But when it was finally time to take that big developmental step and start solids, I quickly learned that the process would have its ups -- and downs.

Here’s what we experienced along the way to this baby milestone.

Sticky Stuff
When Isabel was starting solid food, her pediatrician suggested that I serve up single-grain cereals. I trotted to the market to load up on rice, barely, and oatmeal, and then mixed a tiny bowl for her first meal. Sadly, this mush must not have tasted very good, as Isabel would have very little of it!

Color Coded
To make things a little easier, the doctor suggested going through each vegetable and fruit by color. Isabel’s next meals were all the same sunset shade -- squash, peaches, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Her diapers were mostly orange! I gave them to her one at a time and waited a few days in between serving new baby food to ensure that she didn’t have an allergy. After the orange group, we moved on to green foods, including peas, green beans, and some avocado that I had mashed up for her. It was clear that with this baby milestone, I was going to need some patience.

Nice and Slow
I learned that if I tried to spoon Isabel’s baby food too fast, she would turn her head away. She only wanted a small amount, as she was developing her tastes. So, I started serving tiny portions of solid food and added more to the dish if she was ready, letting her be the guide.

Bigger Pieces
After she’d mastered purees, we moved on to little bits of soft foods, which made feeding her super easy. I simply cut up what we were having for dinner (stewed chicken, peas, mashed potatoes), and served up a pint-sized plate.

Now that Isabel has conquered this baby milestone and developed into a healthy eater, I can look back on those days of starting solid food with a smile. They may not have always been particularly easy (or tidy), but they were the start of what I hope is a lifetime of wholesome eating habits.

Photo by life is fantastic on Unsplash

Solutions for Picky Eaters

Is your child starting to express (very strong) likes and dislikes when it comes to making food choices? These preferences, though quite common at this age, may start to make mealtime a little trickier. Here’s how to cope with your picky eater.

Involve him.
Start by taking your picky eater to the store and letting him choose his favorite vegetables and fruits. At home, bring your preschooler into the kitchen and ask him to help you scoop out watermelon, combine fruits in a big bowl, or arrange veggies into various shapes on his plate. If your child plays a part in preparing his meal, he may be more inclined to taste what’s on his plate.

Avoid bribes.
If you tempt your picky eater with sweets for finishing his vegetables, he may come to expect a reward every time. Or he may become even more resistant to eating whatever he's being bribed to consume. Instead, concentrate on providing healthful foods at every meal (your job) and let your child manage how much and what he eats (his job).

Set a good example.
To encourage your picky eater to eat and enjoy a variety of healthful foods, make sure you are modeling that behavior with your own eating habits. Let him see how much you like having fruit and wheat toast for breakfast and eating a salad for lunch. Get his attention by saying how yummy you think certain dishes are, and be sure to get excited when he wants to help with meal preparation.

Rethink recipes.
If your picky eater is turned off by the sight of omelets or salads, try giving some of his favorite foods a healthy makeover. Including undercover fruits and vegetables is an easy and healthy way to transform any meal. For example, pureed sweet potato can go undetected in a dish of pasta with cheese.

No matter how determined your child is to remain a picky eater, remember to be patient and encouraging. Eventually, this stage will pass and mealtimes will be a lot more fun.

Photo by Matt Walsh on Unsplash