Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby

Mum’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients he or she needs for around the first 6 months of life, protects baby from infections and diseases, and as a Mum, it also helps to protect you too! You may find you run into difficulties or just need someone to talk to. Here in Barnet, we have an exceptional team of breastfeeding support workers to support you through your breastfeeding journey. The team will continue to support you if and when you decide to return to work, including advice on introducing solid foods.

How can we support you?

Support is available to all families in Barnet whether they are bottle or breastfeeding.

The team can support with concerns relating to;

  • Difficulty with latch and positioning
  • Poor milk supply
  • Sore nipples or other breast problems (thrush, engorgement, mastitis)
  • Slow weight gain or faltering growth
  • Breast refusal
  • Illness or suspected restricted frenulum (tongue-tie)
  • Responsive bottle feeding
  • Make referrals where necessary
The Infant feeding team is comprised of:

A Specialist Health visitor for Infant and breastfeeding and Breast Feeding Support Workers.  We work to UNICEF baby-friendly standards so you can be confident that all team members are trained to a high standard.

How to contact us?

If you are worried about your baby’s feeding  or need support you can contact us on 0203 633 4049 or email

Outside of these hours, Bank holidays, Saturday and Sunday you can call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 2012 . They provide independent, confidential, mother-centred, non-judgmental breastfeeding support and information between 9:30am and 9:00pm (365 days a year).

  • 0300 100 0212 – includes English, Polish and Welsh translations
  • 0300 330 5469 – Tamil, Telugu and Hindi support translations

National Childbirth Trust (NCT) on 0300 330 0700 (open every day from 8am to midnight, including bank holidays).

Or you can contact your Health Visitor, please call 0203 633 4049

What happens next?

Someone will be checking the inbox daily, Monday- Friday, and we will aim to get back to everyone within 48 hours, with the exception of weekends & bank holidays.  A care plan will be developed in partnership with the mum/carer and may include follow-up appointments or referring to other specialist services. Where appropriate you will be invited or offered one of our sessions;

Telephone consultations, appointment-only breastfeeding clinics, virtual breastfeeding support or needs-assessed home visits.

Healthcare Professionals

Referrals to the service can be made using the Barnet Breastfeeding Support service referral form. For any issue including a suspected tongue-tie that is affecting feeding, referrals would only be made once an infant feeding assessment and plan have been put in place with the parent/carer.

Barnet’s Breastfeeding welcome scheme and locations

Mothers have the legal right to breastfeed anywhere. Sadly, many mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public even though many venues have an open attitude to breastfeeding.

Barnet Council’s Breastfeeding Welcome scheme helps mothers find welcoming places to breastfeed when they are out and about in the borough.

Local businesses in the scheme will display window stickers letting mothers know they are supported to breastfeed.

Find locations here.

Read our Mastitis and Breastfeeding Leaflet

Find out key information like:

  • What is Mastitis?
  • Signs to look out for
  • Mastitis Prevention
  • What makes Mastitits more likely to occur?
  • Attachment
  • Self-help measures
  • When you should contact your GP or health visitor
  • When you should seek urgent help
  • What medications you can take
Click on the topics below to find out more on these subjects.

Breastfeeding is a unique relationship between you and your baby. The information on this site is to help you to have a successful and enjoyable breastfeeding journey.

Have you seen the new Breastfeeding Friend Chatbot from Start4Life? It can be accessed through Facebook messenger and provides personal support for mothers at any time of the day or night, to help make breastfeeding a better experience.

How to help your baby attach to the breast:

  • Wait for your baby to have a wide open mouth with tongue down.
  • Bring your baby quickly to the breast.

Once your baby is attached, your baby will have their:

  • Chin indenting the breast
  • Lower lip turned back
  • Mouth open wide
  • Cheeks full and rounded
  • Baby will suck rhythmically with pauses

For Mum

  • More areola (coloured part of breast) is visible above the top lip.
  • After the initial latch-on, feeding is pain free
  • A contented baby stays on the breast

You will know when your baby has had enough when he stops sucking and/or falls asleep. They will let go of the breast spontaneously, or does so when the breast is gently lifted.

There are lots of different positions for breastfeeding. When using any position check that your baby is held

  • Close to you so baby doesn’t have to reach out
  • Head is free to tilt back so baby can allow his chin to lead as he comes onto the breast
  • In line – Baby’s head and body are in a straight line so baby can feed and swallow.
  • Nose to nipple – Mother’s nipple just below baby’s nose, baby will begin to root and tilt head backwards so the nipple slips under baby’s top lip upwards and backwards. So baby can get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple.
  • Sustainable – You are comfortable either sitting upright, lying down or laid back. Add support for your arm, or support for your baby if necessary after your baby has attached.

Try and maintain hobbies and interests where possible, allowing for the changes in demands on your time now.

There are many benefits of enjoying skin to skin with your baby and it is something that mums and dads can do that will help to build a loving relationship with your baby.

When can I have skin to skin with my baby?

It is recommended that you have skin to skin for at least one hour after your baby is born but you can keep this going for as long as you wish to or until your baby has fed.

Remember you can then enjoy skin to skin at any time with your baby throughout your breastfeeding experience and beyond. This can be especially useful to help boost your milk supply or just to bond with your baby.

What are the benefits of skin to skin?
  • Keeps your baby warm
  • Calms you and your baby
  • Regulates your baby’s heart rate and breathing
  • Helps your baby build up immunity (to fight off infections)
  • Helps with the first breastfeed
  • Releases hormones which helps to produce colostrum (first milk)
  • Helps with digestion
  • Releases oxytocin (the attachment hormone) which helps you to bond and get to know your baby

Did you know?

Oxytocin helps your baby to build their brain and develop emotionally.

Natural Instincts

When healthy babies are left with their mother in an unhurried environment they follow a series of behaviours which result in them finding the breast and starting to breastfeed.

  • Relaxation
  • Awakening
  • Activity
  • Crawling
  • Resting
  • Familiarisation
  • Suckling
  • Sleeping
Why use a wrap/sling?
  • Increases lactation by increasing the release of hormones essential for good milk supply
  • Can be used from birth to 3-4 years
  • Have a variety of carrying positions
  • Allows breastfeeding whilst carrying the baby
  • Brings your baby to the centre of activity
  • Suitable for every carer and body shape
  • Encourages happy, settled babies as they feel safe and secure
  • Reduces crying in infants
  • Helps settle colicky babies
Do check the following before use:
  • Manufacturers’ instructions
  • Check on correct positioning
  • Check with a health professional if your baby is premature, low birth weight, has respiratory difficulties or multiple birth.
  • Light and compact making it ideal for travelling
  • Quick and easy to put on!
Safe baby wearing

The TICKS rule for safe baby wearing:


In view at all times

Close enough to kiss

Keep chin off chest

Supported back

For more information on TICKS, please click here

It’s easy to breastfeed when out and about because all you need is you and your baby. Are you aware it’s your legal right to be able to breastfeed anywhere in any public place? Babies get hungry at any time of day and night.

When you first start breastfeeding

In the early days of breastfeeding you may feel more comfortable breastfeeding in a relaxed environment and this may be at home. It doesn’t take long for you and your baby to feel comfortable about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a dance between a Mum and her baby. Many Mums attend the local breastfeeding groups to try breastfeeding in public for the first time.

Handy tips and ideas for breastfeeding when you’re out and about:
  • When you are out enjoying sharing time and experiences with your baby, it is often difficult to tell whether you are giving your baby a cuddle or breastfeeding
  • Many breastfeeding Mums just carry on as normal and breastfeed their baby’s like they do when they are at home.
  • Breastfeeding Mums can often see more breast as you are looking down at an angle and baby’s head often stops the breast from being seen by onlookers
  • Some Mums use clothing, scarves or blankets to discreetly cover themselves
  • Some Mums try breastfeeding in front of a mirror at home to see how they look when they are breastfeeding
  • For information on breastfeeding at work/study access the Unicef booklet ‘Breastfeeding at Work’ by clicking here

All babies are different; some are ready to breastfeed soon after birth and continue to breastfeed frequently approximately 8 -12 times in a 24 hour period.

Frequent breastfeeding and comfort seeking is normal behaviour. Your baby is learning to recognise his/her family.

It is normal for babies to feed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. This is because baby’s tummies are very small.

It is important to feed your baby whenever he/she shows signs of wanting to feed and for as long as they want to.

Babies should be fed when they show early feeding cues rather than late feeding cues.

If your baby has to wait until a late feeding cue such as crying, fussing, squeaky noises and restless it can make feeding difficult!

Other signs your baby might be ready to feed:

  • Your breasts feel full
  • Your baby is distressed or needs comforting
  • You or your baby need to rest and relax

Remember! You cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. They will always spontaneously finish feeding when they are full.

All babies are different; some are ready to feed soon after birth and continue to feed frequently, on average approximately 8 -12 times in a 24 hour period.

Some healthy term babies don’t feed very often in the first 24 hours but it is important to keep your baby close and offer the baby the breast when you see early feeding cues.

After 24 hours your baby should start to feed about 8-12 times in a 24 hour period.

The amount of milk taken at each feed will vary just like we eat and drink at different times of the day. It is important to respond to your baby’s feeding cues and let your baby decide how often he feeds and for how long.

If your baby consistently feeds for less than 5 minutes or more than 40 minutes then you should check your baby’s position and attachment.

  • Remember babies only have small tummies.

    • Once attached to the breast your baby will start to suck quickly at first to get the milk to flow.
    • As the milk flows the baby should take slow deep sucks, pausing to swallow and breathe every 2-3 sucks (after the first 2-3 days you will be able to hear the swallows)
    • Near the end of feed the sucks are lighter and fluttering may be felt, before the baby stops sucking or let’s go of the nipple.
    • A feed may take anything from 5 minutes to 40 minutes.
    • Occasionally feeds may last longer, but if all feeds are longer than 40 minutes check positioning and attachment.
    • Offer both breasts at each feed, but don’t worry if your baby does not always take both sides.

What’s in a nappy?

Please view one of the sections below for further information.

Day 1-5

The following shows you what to expect in your baby’s nappy in the first 4 days;

  • Day 1-2: 2 wet nappies in 24 hours
  • Day 3-4: The frequency should be increasing
  • Day 5 onwards: At least 6 heavy, wet nappies in 24 hours
  • First stool: Black tar-like poo called meconium
  • Day 1-2: Changes to a lighter runnier brownish green poo (1or more per day)
  • Day 3-4: Changes to a brownish yellow poo (2 or more per day)
  • Day 5-7: Yellow seedy poos increasing in frequency (2 or more per day)

Day 7 onwards

After the first week and up to the first 6 weeks of life it is normal for babies to have at least 6-8 wet nappies a day and 2-4 yellow seedy poos at least the size of a ₤2 coin.

After 4-6 weeks your baby may have fewer poos as the breastmilk changes, this is normal if your baby is growing well.

You may have seen breast changes in your pregnancy, some mothers start leaking milk during pregnancy, but this does not mean that you will not produce milk if you have not experienced this.

The first milk (colostrum) your baby gets is small in volume to match your baby’s tummy, but provides everything your baby needs.

You may notice after the first few weeks that your breasts do not feel as full as they did in the early days, this is normal as your body is adjusting to your baby’s needs. Some mothers will leak breastmilk, some not. Whether you leak breastmilk or not it is not an indication of how much milk you have available for your baby.

The Let-down Reflex

The let-down reflex is a term used to describe the release of the milk from the milk making cells in the breast to the nipple. Some mothers feel this action and may feel a tingling, sharp or warm sensation lasting only seconds. There are also many mothers who do not feel it and this is nothing to be concerned about.

Breast size: does it matter?

Breast size does not matter milk is made all the time providing the milk is removed frequently from the breast. Every mother will have a different capacity to store milk between feeds and this is not dependant on breast size.

Breast compression is applying gentle pressure to your breast with your hand to increase the flow of milk.

If breastfeeding is going well there is no need to use breast compression.

How to do breast compression

Start breast compression when your baby’s feeding slows /stops or when you do not hear baby sucking and swallowing well.

While your baby is sucking, with your free hand, place your cupped hand round your breast against the chest wall.

Watch for your baby taking bigger swallows and repeat compression until it no longer works.

Advantages of Breast compression

The purpose of breast compression is to maintain a continuous flow of breast milk.

This is useful for the following circumstances;

  • Increases the amount of higher fat milk during a feed to your baby
  • May help your baby to gain weight
  • Helps to keep sleepy/fussy babies feeding for longer and more effectively
  • May help babies prone to colic
  • During cluster feeding
  • During growth spurts

Expressing your milk can be useful in the early days to help your baby start to breastfeed, helps you with some breastfeeding difficulties or if you are separated from your baby at any time.

When and how often to express

It is possible to start hand expressing as soon as your baby is born

If baby is taking some feeds from the breast

Express about 30-45 minutes after a feed

To build a supply of milk if baby is not taking milk from the breast

Express at least 8 times in 24 hours, including at night
No gaps longer than 4 hours in day time and 6 hours at night

Boosting your milk flow

Sometimes it takes a few minutes or even longer for your milk to begin to flow.

Having your baby or something to remind you of your baby nearby helps the milk flow.
Having skin to skin or wearing your baby in a wrap sling can also help to boost your breastfeeding hormones.
Some mothers find it difficult to express large amounts of milk. This does not mean that this is the amount of milk your baby gets at the breast.

Storage of breast milk

Always use a sterile container to store your milk.

Fresh breast milk

Breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to 6 hours, ideally, if you plan to keep your milk for longer then the Breast milk should be stored in the fridge as soon as possible.

Frozen breast milk
  • Freeze breast milk as soon as possible
  • Breast milk can be stored In a freezer compartment of a fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Breast milk can be stored in a deep freeze at -18 degrees or lower for up to 6 months.
To defrost frozen breast milk
  • Defrost the breast milk in the fridge and use within 12 hours of removing from the freezer.
  • If needed immediately, stand the frozen milk container in a jug of warm water (ensuring the water cannot get into the milk). Replace the water in the jug with warm water as required, until the milk reaches the right temperature (about body temperature). Gently swirl the milk to mix the creamy milk which may have separated. Use immediately and throw away any unused milk at the end of the feed.

Never use a microwave to defrost or heat breast milk.

Hand expressing

Why hand express?

  • It may work better than a pump
  • To get small amounts of the first milk (colostrum)
  • To relieve fullness and blocked milk ducts
  • To help baby to attach
  • To collect milk if your baby is unable to attach

To watch a video on hand expressing simply click here.

Breast pumps

If you are breastfeeding and expressing regularly some mothers find a hand pump useful.

If you are exclusively expressing some mothers find an electric pump is useful.

The best time to start introducing solids is six months. Before this, your baby’s digestive system is still immature and developing, and introducing solids too early can increase the risk of infections and allergies. It is also easier to do this at six months.

Starting your baby on solids before six months will not necessarily make them sleep through the night. There is no evidence to support this.

For information on Healthy Start click here

Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

Introducing solids to babies is recommended at aged 6 months due to the development of their digestive organs and up to this age they can get all the nutrition they need from their own stored supplies and milk, whether breast or formula. It is not recommended to start weaning before babies are 17 weeks old, again due to their internal organ development and early weaning is also reported to be linked to increased allergies. Babies also have a tongue thrusting reflex that helps to protect them against choking and by 6 months they have mastered new skills to enable them to pass food from the front to the back of their months and swallow allowing them to commence baby led weaning.

Your baby is ready if they can:

  • Stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady
  • Co-ordinate their eyes, hand and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth all by themselves
  • Swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths

These signs do not usually appear together before six months.

Getting started
  • Make sure your baby is sitting up straight so that they are able to explore foods better and are less likely to choke
  • Allow your baby to enjoy touching and holding the food
  • Always stay with your baby when they’re eating in case they choke
  • Never force your baby to eat, just wait until the next time if they are not interested this time
  • As soon as your baby shows an interest allow them to hold the food and feed themselves
  • If you’re using a spoon, wait for your baby to open their mouth before you offer the food.  Your baby may like to hold a spoon too
  • Start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day
  • If the food is hot, allow it to cool and test if before giving it to your baby
  • Don’t add salt, sugar or stock cubes to your baby’s food or cooking water

Click here for more information about starting your baby on solid foods.

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life booklet introducing-solid-foods

Eating together
  • Enjoy mealtimes together
  • Babies will enjoy watching you eat and learn from being a part of family meal times
  • Help them join in by talking to them and giving them food when you or the rest of the family is eating
  • Try to have mealtimes around the same time every day, this can make it easier for your baby to know when to expect to eat
Healthy eating starts here

Babies like the food they get used to so try to give them as many different, healthy foods as you can – this way they are more likely to continue eating them as they grow up. It’s a good habit to get into and will hopefully make your life easier as they get older.

Try not to give your baby foods or drinks with added sugar, salt or fatty foods as this will make them more likely to want them as they get older.

At first you will need to allow plenty of time for eating. Rushing or forcing your baby could lead to problems.

  • Be led by your baby and go at their pace
  • Stop when your baby shows you they have had enough
  • Do not make your baby finish a portion if they don’t want it

Most babies will indicate when they are full up by:

  • Pushing the food away
  • Turning their head away
  • Spitting it out
  • Crying
  • Refusing to open their mouth
  • When they are young it is better to offer them smaller more frequent meals and healthy snacks

Be prepared for mess! Feeding can get messy but this is an important part of your baby’s development.

You can always cover the floor with newspaper or a protective mat to make cleaning up easier.

Show them

Babies will copy their parents and other children and will want to eat what you eat. You can help them by showing them that you eat healthier foods.

At 6 months babies are interested in what is going on around them, at meal times seeing family eating and talking. They are curious about what you are eating and ask in their own way for food.

  • Babies are able to hold their head steady.
  • Babies will be able to sit or sit supported.
  • Babies can take food off a spoon using his upper lip and move food to the back of their mouth, and swallow it.
  • Babies can reach out for things and put things in their mouths.
  • Babies can pick up and hold finger food and put it in their own mouth.
  • Babies may be able to hold a spoon but will not be able to guide it well enough to feed themselves.

Babies will make a mess when eating both down their front and around them

Baby led weaning
  • Some babies will like soft foods and some prefer finger foods and it may take a while for them to accept one or the other. You can try either method or both together. If they don’t take food one way try the other and it they take neither leave it a few days and retry.
  • Babies weaned after 6 months are far less likely to choke and gag on food as they sit up for their food.
  • Baby led weaning can be enjoyable if approached without expectation and is relaxed.
  • Finger foods to include easy to eat food that they can pick up and eat by themselves, that will mush easily, melt in the mouth but can be gummed, for example :-

Small chunks/fingers of cheese, lightly toasted bread or bagels. Well cooked – cauliflower, broccoli florets, potato, sweet potato, carrot, butter nut squash, parsnips. Soft fruits like pear, cooked apples, banana, mango, plum-ripe, papaya, avocado- seedless and peeled.

Spoon fed method
  • Use a soft tipped spoon, bib and non- breakable dish
  • Babies can start on mashed food, either cooked vegetables or fruit mixed with breast or formula milk.
  • Don’t force them to take the next spoonful, allow them to open their mouth before offering more food.
  • Babies will only take a few teaspoons once in the day to start with. This will slowly increase until they are eating three meals a day.

Introducing a free flow cup or preferably an open top cup with water at mealtimes will encourage your baby to learn to sip rather than suck, which is better for their teeth. The use of a bottle is not recommended after your child is one year old. Teats, spouts and straws encourage children to suck for long periods of time and if they contain drinks other than milk or water this can lead to tooth decay as they have increased contact with their teeth. Non spill cups can be convenient but it is important to teach your child to sip, not suck. It is not advised to add food products to a milk drink.

Drinks under 6 months
  • Breast and formula fed babies receive enough water in their feeds.
  • The only time water is advised is when it is hot weather and this is for formula fed babies. Any water given to a baby under 6 months should be boiled and cooled before offering to your baby.
  • Breastfeeding Mothers are advised to drink more water rather than give it to their babies.

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

  • From 6 months old for babies it is recommended to give a small amount of food prior to their milk, but if they are very hungry it is best to offer the milk and attempt giving food at another time. The pace of eating should be determined by the baby and they will let you know when they don’t want anymore. They may also be fussy about the tastes and textures they will eat, so any food a baby refuses can be tried again on another day, as it does not mean they will not eat this food in the future. Babies enjoy holding food and baby utensils, and sitting up they start leading the meal time activity, though usually messily. It is reported that babies who are solely spoon fed tend to eat more than those using the ‘baby led’ method and can be fussier eaters. However, a combination of spooned and finger foods can give parents the confidence that their baby has the right nutritional requirements for their age.
  • By the time a baby is 7 to 9 months they may well be taking three meals a day but still have about 600mls of milk. Water can be offered in an open cup or free flow cup with meals from 6 months old. Their supply of iron and zinc that was built up in pregnancy will start to dwindle at this age so it is important to offer foods that contain these.
  • At aged 10 to 12 months the babies may still be taking 450mls of milk a day, but the majority of nutrition will now come from food. Babies like and benefit from social interaction so including them in family meals times will support their eating habits, with them copying behaviours at the table.
  • By the time your baby is 12 months old they will have reduced the amount of milk they drink be drinking no more than 350mls of milk and it is at this time that they can be offered full fat cow’s milk as a drink. There is no research evidence to say that follow on milks are required by children.
  • At the age of 2 a child can be gradually introduces to semi-skimmed milk if they have a good balanced diet, but it is not until they are 5 years old that skimmed milk is recommended. Whereas breastfed babies can continue breastfeeding until they or you want this to stop, and it is often a natural decrease.

It is best to give your baby homemade food if possible, with no added salt or sugar.

You can store any unused food in the fridge or it can be frozen. Then you can just reheat the amount that you need.

Baby food in jars or packets can be handy but portion sizes are often too big and much of it has the same texture. This might stop your baby from liking other foods. That’s why jars are best left for when you don’t have much time or you’re out and about with your baby. Even if the label says from four months, the research reviewed by the World Health Organisation shows that your baby is not usually ready for solid foods until around six months.

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

Introducing solids to babies is recommended at aged 6 months due to the development of their digestive organs and up to this age they can get all the nutrition they need from their own stored supplies and milk, whether breast or formula. It is not recommended to start introducing solids before babies are 17 weeks old, again due to their internal organ development and early weaning is also reported to be linked to increased allergies. Babies also have a tongue thrusting reflex that helps to protect them against choking and by 6 months they have mastered new skills to enable them to pass food from the front to the back of their months and swallow allowing them to commence baby led weaning. At 6 months babies start to require extra calories to sustain growth as they are becoming more active and require extra iron sources in food.

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

  • Some babies will like soft foods and some prefer finger foods and it may take a while for them to accept one or the other. You can try either method or both together. If they don’t take food one way try the other and it they take neither leave it a few days and retry.
  • Babies weaned after 6 months are far less likely to choke and gag on food as they sit up for their food. Babies also have a tongue thrusting reflex that helps to protect them against choking and by 6 months they have mastered new skills to enable them to pass food from the front to the back of their months and swallow allowing them to commence baby led weaning.
  • Baby led weaning can be enjoyable if approached without expectation and is relaxed.
  • Finger foods to include easy to eat food that they can pick up and eat by themselves, that will mush easily, melt in the mouth but can be gummed.

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

Fussy eating is very common and most children will go through a phase of it as they grow up. It can often occur during the transition from soft to lumpy foods. It can be seen as part of normal development. Toddlers will refuse food that they have eaten before.

In this phase of development children will try to test the limits and strive for independence. Most children will grow out of the fussy eating, particularly when they start school.

Here are some suggestions about how to conduct mealtimes;

  • The most important thing you can do is to be calm and consistent as possible at mealtimes
  • Don’t worry too much about the combination of foods – remember breakfast cereal doesn’t always need to be kept for breakfast!
  • Meal times should be fun and relaxed, but with rules and structure to help your child learn appropriate behaviour
  • Give plenty of encouragement to your child when they are eating, even when they only eat a little bit, and ignore any unwanted behaviour – children soon learn that good behaviour is a much better way of getting your attention
  • Try to ensure there are no distractions such as TV at mealtimes. Ideally all meals should be eaten at the table. This will help the child associate the table with meals, whereas the lounge is associated with watching television
  • Try to eat together as a family. Children will copy parents, siblings and peers. Often children with eat well at school or nursery, but refuse meals at home

A good example should be set at home with lots of encouragement and the same rules for all the family!

  • Give your child plenty of motivation to eat, they will be more motivated if they get lots of encouragement from you, if they are old enough you can talk to them about how important food is to help us grow strong
  • A scrapbook recording new foods eaten can be very rewarding to a child. Perhaps they could receive a reward when they fill a page?
  • Some children have developed a genuine fear of food. Give them plenty of reassurance, comfort and encouragement to tackle their fears

Things may get worse before they get better, but try to persevere, it will be worth it in the end. Be patient… even though this is not always easy!

For more information click here 

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

Read our helpful tips:

  • Always offer the same food as the other family members and peers wherever possible. It is important not to offer alternative meals, snacks, pudding or favourite drinks (such as milkshakes) if the meal is refused as this can be seen as rewarding your child for poor feeding behaviour
  • Give clear instructions about what to eat and follow through any consequences you set, for example, your child can have a favourite pudding only if the agreed amount of the main meal has been eaten
  • Start by offering food you know your child will eat and gradually increase the variety
  • Ensure meals look attractive and the plate is not piled too high with food as this may put your child off
  • Allow your child to get messy and explore different foods
  • Don’t try to trick your child, or force feed them, they need to trust you
  • Ignore bad behaviour such as throwing food
  • Offer small, regular meals and limit the time taken to about 20 minutes, clear away any uneaten food at the end of this time without commenting on it
  • Do not give your child too many drinks or snacks as this can fill them up, offer drinks after they have eaten some food rather than directly before mealtimes

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

  • Allergies can also produce symptoms like, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and runny nose, itchy skin and rashes, swollen lips and throat, sore, red and itchy eyes, diarrhoea and vomiting. Severe symptoms, known as anaphylaxis, will require emergency medical advice and can be life threatening.
  • It is best to introduce food that is known to cause allergies one at a time, for example eggs, fish and shell fish, wheat, gluten, nuts, seeds, some berries. Though any foods can cause an allergic response or sensitivity.
  • Cows’ milk can be used in cooking from 6 months but should not be given as a drink to your baby until they are over 12 months old. So if you are breastfeeding try to continue until the baby is over 1 years old.
  • If a baby is allergic to cow’s milk they have a higher chance of being allergic to soya milk also.
  • Food containing ‘E’ numbers can cause a variety of reactions in children e.g. hyperactivity.
  • Adding salt to your babies’ food is not advisable as their bodies are not developed enough yet. Adult ready meals and adult gravy also contain salt and are not advised at this age.
  • Adding sugar their food is not advisable as it can affect their teeth development even before they have grown through their gums.
  • Artificial sweeteners are not suitable for babies. They can encourage a sweet tooth.
  • Some fish contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided i.e. shark, swordfish and marlin
  • Hard foods like whole nuts are a choking hazard
  • Honey should not be given to babies under a year old as it can contain bacteria and cause tummy upsets.
  • Babies can have full fat spreads, yoghurts and cheese. Low fat spreads aren’t advised and they require the extra nutrition
  • Foods carrying a risk of food poisoning should be avoided, raw and uncooked shellfish, mould-ripened cheese e.g. brie and camembert, soft/raw eggs.
  • Rice milk is not recommended as it has been found to contain arsenic

Click here to read Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

Following birth you will have an array of hormones that can have an impact on your emotions. Having a baby and becoming a parent can be a very tiring and exhausting time. Breastfeeding your baby will help you to relax and rest.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression occurs in around 1 in 10 mothers. It usually develops within in the first 4 weeks after birth but it can start anytime. If you feel your mood is low please tell someone and speak to a health professional.

For further information see the NHS website.

Baby blues

Baby blues is very common and often considered normal. Symptoms of feeling weepy, irritable and anxious often starts around day 3 following birth but has usually disappeared by day 10. No treatment is given for Baby blues.

Building loving relationships

Babies are unable to rationalise their feelings due to their under developed brains. The way you respond to your baby can have a significant impact on their brain growth and ability to learn to manage their emotions now and in later life. Here are some suggestions how you can comfort and respond to your baby:

  • Picking baby up and soothing him when he is crying, you will not “spoil him”
  • Frequent skin to skin contact/wearing in a wrap sling
  • Offering the breast for comfort as well as feeding
  • Keeping baby close to you
  • Touching, massaging and rocking baby gently
  • Talking to baby

It is important to stay healthy during breastfeeding. The following information will guide you to keeping healthy so you feel well following childbirth.


The advice on alcohol can be quite confusing and conflicting for breastfeeding mothers. It is widely suggested that the occasional drink is not harmful to your baby. The alcohol you consume can pass freely between your system and your milk supply and therefore some alcohol will be consumed by your baby. The highest level of alcohol will be found in your milk 30-60 minutes after consuming alcohol (60-90 when consumed with food). It is therefore advisable to avoid moderate to heavy consumption of alcohol whilst breastfeeding your baby.


Eat a varied and fresh diet where possible as this will help to ensure that you keep well and recover as quickly as possible after the birth of your baby. You also need to drink plenty of water and other clear fluids in order to keep hydrated. Your diet does not generally affect your milk supply although in some cases it can change the taste of your milk or make your baby suffer more with colic. Speak to your health professional if you have any further questions about this.


Very little caffeine passes from your system into your milk therefore moderate amounts of caffeine should not affect your baby’s behaviour. Some studies suggest that over 5 cups of coffee for example my have an effect. Remember that not just coffee and tea have caffeine in but also colas and other soft drinks, chocolate and medications. If your baby is being stimulated by too much caffeine they may be wide eyed, active , fussy and alert and not sleep for long. If you think caffeine may be influencing your baby’s sleep pattern reducing your caffeine intake can help, but may take from a few days to a week to improve your baby’s sleeping pattern.


Ideally when you are pregnant or breastfeeding you will be able to quit smoking, ask your health professional for help and support services to quit. If you are unable to quit smoking completely then you can take the following precautions:

  • Smoke in a different room to your baby, or even better outside.
  • Allow as much time as possible between smoking and breastfeeding to cut down on the nicotine found in your milk.
  • Keep the number of cigarettes you smoke as low as possible to reduce the effects on your baby.
  • Wear an extra layer of clothing when you smoke and remove it before you cuddle your baby to reduce the effects of passive smoking.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes after smoking to pick up your baby and wash your hands.

It is safer to breastfeed and smoke than it is to artificially feed your baby and smoke. You are advised to never sleep with your baby if you/your partner is a smoker, or you/your partner have been drinking alcohol.

After having a baby women often feel uninterested in sex. This is commonly due to lack of sleep, physical exhaustion, soreness and many women feel unattractive following childbirth. Looking after a baby is very time consuming and women often find it hard to juggle meeting baby’s needs, running a home and maintaining an intimate relationship with you. While breastfeeding many women will not have periods, however they may still ovulate.

Although exclusive breastfeeding day and night will provide some protection from becoming pregnant, It is important to discuss contraception with your partner and health professional. During intercourse the breasts may be extra sensitive and leak breastmilk, this is normal.

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby!

The mother-baby breastfeeding relationship is unique and you can help mother and baby have a positive breastfeeding experience. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for your baby and your partner. Your baby doesn’t need anything other than breastmilk for the first 6 months of life. It is recommended that breastfeeding is continued for up to 2 years alongside complimentary solid foods.

Remember the more breastmilk the baby removes from the breast the more milk mothers make.

You can support your partner and baby by:

  • Skin to skin
  • Soothing baby
  • Bathing baby
  • Settling baby
  • Wrap/sling wearing
  • Sharing information that the Midwife/Health Visitor has given you about breastfeeding to the new Mum
  • Tell her what a great job she is doing
  • Supporting when baby cluster feeds or has a growth spurt
  • Be understanding if baby feeds a lot
  • If breastfeeding isn’t going well help her get support
  • New Mums and Dads are very important to their new baby – they need time to talk and get to know their baby
  • Provide regular food and drink for the new Mum
  • Helping around the home

Congratulations on the birth of your new family member. Your support is very important to the new family. Here are some tips to help you support them whilst allowing the mother, dad/partner and baby to get to know each other.

  • Give the new family time to settle and get some rest soon after birth
  • Offer practical help like shopping, ironing and general household chores
  • Cook a meal and take to the family
  • Most of all support the parents in their choices and allow them to learn to become parents, everybody is different
  • Tell them they are doing a great job
  • Support advice the health professionals provide even if you do not agree, advice changes with new information.
I only need to breastfeed 4-6 times a day to maintain a milk supply?

A. No this is not true, it is important that milk is removed from the breasts frequently and you follow the baby’s lead. It is normal for babies to feed 8-12 times in 24 hours. The more milk removed the more milk is made.

How long should I leave between breastfeeds to allow my breasts to refill with milk?

A. Milk is made all the time so long as milk is removed from the breasts regularly. You should follow your baby’s lead and allow him to feed for as long as he wants and how often he wants to and this may vary throughout the day and night.

Do I offer both breasts per feed or just one?

A. Always offer both breasts, however baby may not always take both breasts. Its best to allow your baby to decide.

Which breast do I use first?

A. Start on the opposite breast to the one that you started on at the last feed.

Is my baby using me as a dummy?

A. Sucking is a basic instinct that babies have at birth. Babies suck for food and comfort. When suckling at the breast babies feel warm and secure. Allowing your baby to suckle at the breast when he wants to will help prevent stress which can be harmful to babies developing brains. This will also stimulate the breast to produce more milk.

Mothers who hold their babies too much will spoil them?

A. Recent evidence has shown that babies who are held and cuddled a lot cry less, have improved brain development and more likely to become confident adults that are able to cope with their emotions.

Is breastfeeding after 12 months still beneficial to babies?

A. Yes, the composition of the breastmilk changes to meet the baby’s development. It remains a highly important source of nutrition alongside other foods. Breastmilk helps the development of the immune system which takes between 2 and 6 years to become fully mature.

Blocked milk ducts

Blocked ducts are caused when the milk ducts become inflamed and milk is unable to flow freely. If not treated blocked milk ducts can lead to mastitis.

  • Baby not attached to the breast well
  • Long gaps between feeds
  • Bras or clothes too tight
  • Missing feeds
  • Giving bottles of formula
  • Over using a dummy
Self-help measures to help relieve blocked milk ducts:
  • Check baby is attached well to the breast
  • Start feed on affected side
  • Feed frequently
  • Massage affected area whilst feeding
  • Change feeding position, it can help if you put baby’s chin near affected area
  • Apply warm heat before feeds

Sore nipples

When do you feel nipple or breast pain?

Self help measures for pain and discomfort of the nipples and breasts:

  • It is always worth looking at your breastfeeding positioning and attachment
  • Stimulate a milk ejection by expressing some milk before putting baby to the breast
  • Take an analgesia that is compatible with breastfeeding
  • Breastfeed first on the least sore breast until the milk releases, then move the baby gently to the more painful breast.
  • Apply breastmilk to your nipples between feeds


What is engorgement?
What can I do to prevent or treat engorgement?
  • Breastfeed your baby frequently at least 8-12 times a day
  • Ensure your baby is well attached to the breast: you may find expressing a little milk by hand will soften the nipple area to help baby latch.
  • Apply warm flannel to your breast 2 minutes before feeds to help your milk to flow
  • Following feeds and between feeds apply a cold compress. A bag of frozen peas/vegetables is ideal (Wrap them in a light weight towel to protect your skin).
  • If your baby is unable to breastfeed: ensure your breasts are regularly expressed by hand or pump.


Mastitis means inflammation of the breast. The signs and symptoms of mastitis may be:

  • Red lumpy area of breast
  • Pain and flu symptom/or high temperature

Causes of mastitis:

  • Untreated blocked milk ducts
  • Poor attachment
  • Bra or clothing too tight
  • Infrequent milk removal

Self-help measures to help relieve symptoms:

  • Do not stop breast breastfeeding as this can make the condition worse
  • Ensure baby is attach well to the breast
  • Apply warm water by a flannel or bath before feeding
  • Massage affected area whilst feeding
  • Feed on affected breast first
  • Change feeding position and try putting baby’s chin near affected area
  • Ensure breast is well drained
  • Feed more frequently on affected breast
  • Apply cool/ice compress following feeds
  • Avoid pressure from bras or clothing
  • Take pain relief

If symptoms do not improve within 12 hours please seek medical advice.


Thrush is a yeast infection which can affect anywhere in the body. Commonly thrush can be found in a baby’s mouth or mother can have nipple thrush when breastfeeding. It is important that both mother and baby are treated at the same time even if only one person has a confirmed diagnosis. If you or your baby have been diagnosed with thrush by a health professional there are some self-help measures that can help reduce the likelihood of reoccurrences. The following may be helpful:

  • Wash hands carefully and frequently, particularly after nappy changes.
  • Boil any dummies, teats, bottles or expressing equipment for at least 20 minutes daily in between your normal way of sterilisation
  • Only use disposable breast pads during this time and change them frequently
  • Use separate towels for each family member
  • Wash any toys that have been in baby’s mouth in hot soapy water and dry well
  • Wash all towels and clothing that come into contact with the yeast in hot soapy water (above 50° C) and air dry in sun if possible
  • Ironing helps to remove the infection and stop the spread
  • Some mothers find Acidophilus capsules help to restore bacteria which helps prevent thrush over growth
  • Reducing sugar and yeast intake has been known to help whilst breastfeeding.
  • Do not freeze breastmilk whilst infection is present

Unsettled baby

Most babies are unsettled at some time. It is normal for babies to be unsettled during the evening due to the change in the breastmilk which is much higher in fat when the breasts are less full. Here are some tips that can help when your baby is unsettled.

  • Check baby has good attachment and you can hear good sucking and swallowing
  • Offer both breasts at each feed
  • Keep baby close and do skin to skin or wear baby in a wrap sling, this will comfort the baby and reassure him he is safe.
  • Allow baby to cluster feed in an evening, do not restrict feeding as baby needs this higher fatty milk.
  • Talk to your baby in a soothing voice
  • Try using breast compression to maximise the amount of breastmilk your baby gets

Poor weight gain

Many mothers worry whether their baby is getting enough milk or gaining weight correctly. Very few women however are unable to breastfeed for this reason and just need the right advice to succeed.

Getting enough milk is helped by:

  • making sure your baby is well positioned and attached at the breast
  • feeding your baby responsively – this means responding to feeding cues and feeding baby as long as they wish to

The easiest way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is by checking the number of wet and dirty nappies per day. Please speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor if you are concerned.

Your baby will be weighed by your Midwife and then by the Health Visitor to check on their progress. Poor weight gain could suggest your milk supply is low and they will discuss with you how to increase your supply.

These things can help!

  • Feed your baby at least 8-12 times in 24 hours and make sure one of those feeds is between 12pm-6am
  • Have lots of skin to skin with your baby or wear your baby in a wrap/sling. Keeping your baby close helps hormones to boost your supply.
  • Avoid using dummies
  • Use breast compression
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