Responsive feeding and care
Newborns have a strong need to be close to their parents, as this
helps them to feel secure and loved. It is very important to respond to the baby’s cues for feeding and comfort in order for the child to develop well and reach its full potential.
Responsive caregiving includes observing and responding to children’s movements, sounds, and gestures, and verbal requests.
Responsive caregiving is the basis for:
- Protecting children against injury and the negative effects of adversity
- Recognizing and responding to illness
- Enriched learning
- Building trust and social relationships
- Responsive caregiving also includes responsive feeding (responding to the baby’s cues, as well as the care givers' own desire to feed the baby), which is especially important for low-weight or ill infants
Responding to the baby’s cues for feeding and comfort:
- This will support the baby’s brain development and helps your baby feel secure, so they will cry less
- Holding the baby when they are crying helps them to feel loved and secure, even if they doesn’t stop crying straight away
- Keep the baby close to you so that you start to recognize the signals the baby makes to tell you they are hungry or wants a cuddle
- Cuddling the baby next to your skin allows the baby to smell you and hear your heartbeat, which will comfort and calm the baby; this will also help the mother to feel calm and relaxed and will help with breastfeeding
- Breastfed babies cannot be overfed so you can use breastfeeding to soothe the baby and as a way of spending time together, or having a rest whenever you both want
- If you are bottle-feeding, hold the baby close during feeds and look into his eyes
- Continuing skin-to-skin contact can calm and comfort the mother and the baby at any time
- Looking at people's faces is the best way for babies to learn
- Talking, listening, and smiling makes the baby calm and happy and supports the growth of the baby’s brain
What matters the most for babies and their future development is having parents who love and care for them!
Certa Nutritio. (2020, 1 April). GloCal Nutrition [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvxwMjlLzZP_l3CvIWPZHCg
UNICEF. (2019). Building a happy baby: a guide for parents. https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/04/happybaby_leaflet_web.pdf
World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank Group. Nurturing care for early childhood development: a framework for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO