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Choosing Child Care for Your Breastfed Infant

Choosing child care for your baby is a very tough decision for many mothers, especially for a first child. In some cases, the parents can arrange their work schedules so that one of them is able to stay home with the baby. Others are able to ask a grandparent or other trusted family member to provide care. If you don’t have these options, you will want to select a child care provider who supports your efforts to breastfeed.

Another consideration is how convenient the child-care location is to your workplace. In-home child care has its advantages. But some mothers find a care provider close enough to their workplace that they can drop in during work breaks or at lunchtime to breastfeed. Some mothers are able to have their care provider bring the baby to them at work. When your commute time between the child care provider and your workplace is shorter, you and your baby spend less time apart. You can then make time for more direct breastfeeding. This means fewer pumping sessions may be needed.

The following are some questions you may want to ask candidates when choosing a care provider for your breastfed child:

  • Are they familiar with proper storage, thawing, and warming of breastmilk?

  • Do they have refrigerators or freezers where your breastmilk can be stored for later use?

  • What is the method for feeding young babies? Is a baby held closely for bottle feedings? Young babies can’t be expected to hold a bottle, and propping bottles is not safe or appropriate. Propping is linked to choking and a greater risk of ear infections. Also, the social interaction during feedings or mealtime can be as important as obtaining food.

  • You may plan for your baby to be fed by an alternative feeding method. This might include cup-feeding, finger-feeding, or syringe-feeding. If so, ask if the care provider is willing and able to continue this practice with your child.

Educate caregivers about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • Offer your baby a pacifier for sleeping or naps, if he or she isn't breastfed. If breastfeeding, don’t introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.

  • Use a firm mattress (covered by a tightly fitted sheet). 

  • Avoid placing infants on a couch or armchair for sleep. 

  • Don't share your bed with your baby. Bed sharing is not recommended for twins or other higher multiples.

  • Avoid using infant seats, car seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings for routine sleep and daily naps.

  • Avoid overbundling, overdressing, or covering an infant's face or head.

  • Avoid using loose bedding or soft objects.

  • Always place cribs, bassinets, and play yards in hazard-free areas. Make sure there are no dangling cords, wires, or window coverings. This reduces the risk of strangulation.

  • Avoid using alcohol and street drugs, and don't smoke while caring for babies. Don't allow the baby to be around anyone who is smoking.

Medical Reviewers:

  • Adler, Liora C., MD
  • Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN.