Feeding Baby

As a parent, one of the best things that only you can do for your baby is to breastfeed or chestfeed your baby if possible. Any amount is good for both of you.

Even though it is natural, parents and babies learn how to nurse together. For some, it is easy. Others have challenges. Most challenges occur in the first weeks. Here are some resources to help.

Mother holding infant lovingly against her chest

Benefits of Human Milk

For Babies

Human milk helps protect babies from colds, infections, allergies, asthma, obesity, and diabetes.

For Moms and Birthing Parents

It lowers the risk of breast cancer and helps the new parent’s body recover from birth.

Builds Physical Connection

Breastfeeding/chestfeeding helps build a physical, touch-based connection. This skin-to-skin contact increases oxytocin (the love hormone), supports a healthy immune system, helps with stress, and helps improve healthy weight gain in infants. If breastfeeding/chestfeeding is not an option the skin-to-skin contact can be achieved with bottle-feeding.

It is usually best to try nursing within an hour after birth. Your first milk, called colostrum, is extra rich and just enough for your baby’s needs.

Feeding a baby human milk is a full-time endeavor in the first few weeks. Parents should be prepared to do little else in the early postpartum period.

The first few weeks also tend to be when most challenges occur. Be kind to yourself and ask for help. Call the Breast Start line at 1 – 855 – 855-MILK or a lactation consultant to help you figure out solutions to problems or alternatives.

The more you feed, the more milk will be produced.

The best method to increase milk supply is by feeding your baby on demand.

Establishing a breastfeeding bond with your baby takes time. Pregnancy disability is available to most birthing parents. It includes 6-8 weeks off to bond with your baby and recover from birth. The benefit is less than the regular wage a parent earns but can help.

An additional 8 weeks of Family Leave is available for most working parents. It offers 60-70% of normal pay.

Parents in a two-parent household may take paid family leave at the same time or consecutively – one parent then the other.

When you are back at work, you have a legal right to take lactation breaks. Employers are required to allow employees lactation breaks. (This is also for the benefit of the employer. Parents take fewer sick days when babies have their parent’s milk.)


No amount of alcohol is safe in pregnancy and it is still safest to avoid alcohol after your baby is born. But health experts (like the Center for Disease Control) say one alcoholic drink per day can be safe for lactating parents, especially when they wait to nurse for two hours after drinking one alcoholic beverage.


Smoking is highly discouraged for all parents and caregivers whether they nurse or not. Exposure to cigarette smoke is a risk factor for SIDS. Anyone who smokes should avoid being around babies when smoking. Even if smoking away from a baby, caregivers should wash their hands and change their clothes before handling a baby to avoid third-hand exposure.


Small amounts of marijuana’s active components pass into the milk of cannabis users. It is associated with motor skill delays. Lactating people should avoid cannabis.

Coronavirus has not been found in human milk. Having COVID-19 should not prevent nursing. To be safe, mask and talk to your health care provider.

If you have COVID & Choose to Breastfeed

Make sure to wash your hands before breastfeeding. Wear a mask while breastfeeding or whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby.

Vaccines & Breastfeeding

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are breastfeeding. COVID-19 vaccines can’t cause COVID infection in anyone, including mother or baby.

COVID-19 Antibodies & Breastfeeding

Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding people who have received the COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk. These antibodies provide passive immunity to infants.
Bottle-feeding is oftentimes envisioned as a baby lying in a mother or caregiver’s arms with a bottle angled down into their mouth. While this is the traditional way bottle feeding is portrayed, it is not the ideal way to bottle-feed your baby.

Bottle-feeding your baby the traditional way can cause your baby to drink milk at a faster rate. Instead of sucking to get milk to their mouths, babies instead have to keep up with the milk pouring from the bottle due to gravity. This can cause some unwanted side effects like:

  • Stomach issues due to overfeeding
  • Being more prone to ear infections or respiratory issues

The Solution

Paced bottle-feeding is designed to more closely mimic breastfeeding by holding your baby upright and holding the bottle level with the ground instead of angled down so that your baby has to suck the nip of the bottle to get to the milk.


  1. Choose a bottle and slow flow nipple
  2. Hold your baby upright
  3. Hold bottle level with the ground and keep nipple only about halfway full of milk
  4. Gently touch the bottle’s nipple to your baby’s mouth
  5. Take frequent breaks

Breastfeeding is a natural act, but it is also an art that is learned every day. The reality is that almost all women can breastfeed, have enough milk for their babies and learn how to overcome problems of all magnitudes. It is nearly always simply a matter of practical knowledge and not a question of good luck.

— La Leche League

baby surprised

Signs Your Baby is Full

Babies oftentimes will give you signs when they are hungry. But did you know they will also give you cues to let you know when they are full?

Here are some signs your baby has had enough to eat:

Hands are relaxed
Turning away from breast/bottle
Appearing easily distracted
Crying soon after feeding begins
Slowing down sucking
Beginning to fall asleep
Body feels at ease
Lets out a wet burp

Transition to Solid Food

Food before one is just for fun!

Human milk or infant formula is ideal for the first year of a baby's life.
Food before one should be used just to introduce flavor.
Weaning begins with the introduction of supplemental foods. Over time human milk becomes a smaller part of a child's nutrition and eventually ceases altogether.
California WIC (Women, Infants, and Children)
Advice and classes on breastfeeding and healthy eating; food coupons for women with low incomes. Local Phone Number: (707) 472-2743
Local Resources
  • BreastStart
    A collaborative program that provides 24-hour support and information by trained breastfeeding specialists to breastfeeding mothers and their families. Bilingual help is available.
    If you need local support while breastfeeding please call: 1 – 855 – 855-MILK (6455) (county-wide)
  • Breastfeeding Coalition
    The Mendocino County Breastfeeding Coalition invites all health care providers and interested members of the public to join the Coalition.
    2nd Thursday of each month
    11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Zoom Meeting
  • Home Visiting
    Free guidance on healthy pregnancy, nutrition, baby care, breastfeeding, health and wellness, parenting skills, stress management, local resources, and more.
General Resources
  • Breastfeeding Coalition of California
    The California Breastfeeding Coalition’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of Californians by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.
  • Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association
    BMBFA’s objective is to provide education, valuable resources, and ongoing support to black families and public/private agencies that service these families.
  • Office on Women’s Health – Breastfeeding Support & Information
    Breastfeeding moms can get help from different types of health professionals, organizations, and members of their own families.
  • breastfeeding.support
    Evidence-based breastfeeding tips and resources.
  • Mothers’ Milk Bank
    Mothers’ Milk Bank is here to help if you are a mother who wants to donate your extra breast milk to medically vulnerable infants, a parent in need of mothers’ milk for your child, a health practitioner looking to collaborate, if you are grieving the loss of a child, we are here to help you.