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Babies with health issues or too weak to suck properly may need to be tube-fed. A tube is inserted through the nose or mouth into the esophagus through to the stomach. Milk or formula then flows through the tube.

This may not be pleasant for the baby. You can make it easier just by being there and touching the baby gently.

Tried-and-true tips:

  • Put the baby’s hands near her mouth. This teaches the infant to explore and become more aware of the mouth area. At some point, the baby will bring hands to mouth when she’s hungry.
  • When you hold the baby, wrap your arms around the whole body. Arms and legs will fold in against you in fetal position. Hold the baby skin-to-skin. Babies love the warmth and scent of the mother’s body and the sound of her voice. Skin-to-skin contact soothes the infant, regulates heartbeat and temperature, and helps both of you relax.
  • Use breast milk to cleanse the baby’s mouth, getting the baby used to the taste of milk. Hygiene time can become a shared and comforting experience for both of you.
  • Dip a pacifier into breast milk before giving it to the baby. Also let the baby suck on your finger.
  • When cleaning the baby’s face, gently dab the area around the mouth with a washcloth. If you have to scrub or use aspiration, hold the baby against you, your arms wrapped around him. Speak to the baby softly.

Oral Hygiene

Enjoy spending time with your baby. During tube-feeding, too. The baby will gradually learn to associate the taste and smell of milk with a sense of comfort. Put the baby to the breast as often as you can.

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