Are you concerned about sending your breastfed baby to childcare or a babysitter? Even though you won’t be with your baby during the day, breastfeeding doesn’t have to stop. Most breastfeeding mothers can and do continue to breastfeed their babies at home and pump during the day so that their babies can get breastmilk while at childcare.
Read on for everything you need to know about preparing a breastfed baby for childcare.
How Much Breastmilk to Send to Daycare for My Baby
If you’ve been breastfeeding your baby on demand, it can be challenging to know how much milk to send. You may know when your baby eats, but it’s difficult to know how much your baby is actually getting.
Most childcare workers recommend sending one bottle for every two hours your baby is there. So, if your baby is at childcare for eight hours, you’d need to send four bottles. You should also send one backup bottle, in case your baby has a day where they’re extra hungry. You don’t want an upset baby at childcare.
The amount in each bottle will depend on your baby’s age and how often they feed. Start by figuring out how many times your baby eats in a 24-hour period. If your baby is between one and six months they’ll need around 25 oz a day, so divide 25 by the number of feedings, so 25/number of feedings in a 24-hour period.
After six months, your baby will need around 30 oz of milk each day, so you’ll divide 30 by the average number of feedings per day. As your baby starts increasing solid foods, their milk intake will decrease.
When Should I Start Pumping for Daycare?
If you haven’t been pumping throughout your maternity leave, you may feel nervous about pumping for when your child enters childcare. You may be worried that you won’t be able to express enough to keep your baby satisfied. The last thing you want to do is wait until the day before to start pumping. You need to give yourself time to get used to pumping and build up a supply. Your body is used to making a certain amount of milk, and you can’t expect to increase production in a day or two.
You should start pumping anywhere from two to four weeks before your baby will begin childcare. You’ll have plenty of time to get a handle on pumping and can freeze plenty of milk. However, it’s recommended that you wait until at least six weeks after birth, otherwise you may create an oversupply and suffer from engorgement.
Once you’re back at work and your baby is in childcare, you’ll need to pump throughout the day to keep your supply up.
How Do You Prepare Frozen Breastmilk for Daycare?
Most childcare centers will have their own procedures and regulations for how they want you to prepare breastmilk. You may be required to bring bottles that are ready to go, or one bottle with a larger container of all the milk for the day. Others may let you bring bottles and frozen bags of milk.
You’ll want to label everything with your baby’s name. You can have labels professionally made or use a permanent marker. Once frozen breastmilk has thawed, there’s a 20-hour window where it’s still safe for your baby. You may want to use a dry erase marker or painter’s tape to label when the milk expires or the order the bottles should be used.
Breastmilk Guidelines for Childcare
Different childcare providers will have different guidelines for feeding. However, they should be willing to follow the choices you’ve made for your baby. If you’ve chosen to feed your child breastmilk exclusively and a childcare center insists on formula, then you’ll need to stand your ground or choose a different provider. You know best about what your baby needs.
Breastfed Baby Not Eating at Childcare – What Can I Do?
Nothing is more stressful than knowing your baby isn’t eating. Babies who have been exclusively breastfed from birth may be reluctant to take a bottle, especially from a stranger.
There are a few tips the caregiver can try to help your baby accept the bottle. First, the baby may need to be fed when hungry instead of on a schedule. The caregiver shouldn’t push the nipple into the baby’s mouth. Instead, allow the baby to take the bottle on their own. Finally, the caregiver should stop the feeding for a few moments a few times throughout and switch sides. These shifts mimic a feeding with the mother.
One way to potentially avoid this problem is to start letting someone else, like a partner or family member, give your baby a bottle of breastmilk from time to time.
I Feel Childcare is Overfeeding My Breastfed Baby – What Should I Do?
The caregiver’s goal shouldn’t be to feed your baby until the bottle is gone, but instead to feed your baby until they’re satisfied. If your baby is being overfed, you can talk to your caregiver about what you want and expect for your baby during feeding.
You can also change up how you make bottles. Simply put less per bottle. If you’re worried that your baby may not have enough and will get hungry, send some extras frozen in one-oz packages. That way you’ll know that your baby isn’t being offered more than enough food.
Sending your breastfed baby to childcare can be a nerve-wracking experience, but as long as you start expressing milk early and keep yourself organized, you should be able to make the transition without too many setbacks.