During feeding time, your little one focuses on the breast or bottle. What are you focusing on in return?
Advocates for breastfeeding love to share with others about the bonding time they have with their baby. Even parents who are feeding baby formula from a bottle enjoy the time in which they snuggle in the chair or bed. Both parents are in awe of the little miracle in their arms.
Some feedings take about fifteen minutes while other times it can be closer to 45 minutes to an hour. Once the coos and awe begin to fade, there is something that can impact the bonding time between babies and their caregivers. It's the smartphone.
“Brexting” is the term that refers to texting while breastfeeding. However, it is not just nursing mothers who are one buzz away from getting distracted while feeding the baby. While the baby's head is in the crook of your elbow and one hand is holding the bottle, the other hand is scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest. You don't even need to have the phone in your hand if you have Bluetooth-compatible earbuds or headset on your head.
There is a lot that is going on for your baby during feeding time. As a newborn, your baby has limited vision. This means that they can focus on a parent's face and a nipple (breast or bottle). When your little one gets to look into the caregiver's eyes, your baby gets to tell you things that they have no words for. The response you provide for them helps build a secure attachment. Your acknowledgment of them lets them know that you are there for them.
Babies also give off signs or cues during feeding time. For nursing babies, they give facial expressions and body clues. When you are not watching, you may not be able to tell if they are still latched to your breast. Formula-fed babies are similar. They may continue to suck on the nipple even though they are not getting any more formula from the bottle. If they are swallowing correctly, you may not realize that they are not getting their nourishment until there is a big puddle of formula in your arm or lap.
When you put away your phones, tablets, and other devices during your baby's mealtime, you are also reducing your stress level. Rather than multi-task, you are focused on you, your baby, and your mental health. If you look at your news feed rather than your baby, the current events or messages can cause you more stress and anxiety. As a nursing mother, it can impact your milk production. For any parent with a bottle, your baby can feel your tension in your arms. These things can impact your bonding time.
If you need background noise in order to stay awake during midnight feedings, have some music on. Even the TV can be a distraction, but can also be appropriate background noise. If you are too tempted to grab your phone, make feeding time your time to charge your battery or just give yourself a rest from technology. You may find this concept more challenging the more connected you are to your devices, but the bond between you and your little one is more important in the grand scheme of things.