Supplemental Nursing System

What is a Supplementary nursing system?

A supplemental nursing system is a feeding tube attached to a bottle that contains either formula or breast milk for supplementary feeding at the breast. This allows mom to breastfeed baby even though baby is being supplemented.

Using a supplementer is a great way to get a mom to still benefit from the bonding experience even if mom has no milk at all.

If baby is going to be supplemented for any reason, it’s always best to use a nursing supplementer “SNS”.

A SNS feeder can be used when…
Mom… Baby…
When an adoptive mom would like to breastfeed and needs to build a breast milk supply A lactation aid can help when babies have suck problems. Mom can pump her breast milk beforehand and then use the lact aid with her expressed milk in the bottle.
When a breastfeeding mom has a low milk supply and needs to supplement baby with formula. The supplemental nursing system can aid lactation by allowing breast stimulation.
Trying to prevent nipple confusion

Mom has had breast surgery previously and cannot produce enough milk.
Baby has Down syndrome
Mom has hypoplastic breasts Baby is premature
Mom has flat or inverted nipples Baby has a cleft lip or palate
Some moms look for a breast shaped bottle or breastfeeding bottle nipples that will prevent nipple confusion but with a lactation aid these bottles are not necessary.


Baby is lethargic and very sleepy at the breast
Has to feed baby extra supplements for any reason.
Baby is neurologically impaired

Baby is a very low weight

Tips on using a supplemental nursing system

- Before deciding on using a lactation aid, you should speak to a lactation specialist, she might have good advice and will be able to show you exactly how to use it and latch on properly.

- Try expressing milk for the lactation aid. If your milk supply is low you can pump in-between feedings to build your supply further. If you are unable to produce milk you can contact a milk bank , they can provide free breast milk (you will only need to pay for shipment)

- Place the bottle so that you are comfortable, some moms put the bottle under their arms or hang the cord around their necks for comfort. You can place the bottle in the pocket of your shirt too. Find whatever works for you.

How to increase the flow of a lact aid

- Warm up the breast milk or formula before adding it to the bottle (just make sure it's not too warm that it burns baby)

- Raise the bottle higher, the higher you raise it the faster the milk will flow…careful that you don’t raise it too high as baby might choke if the milk is flowing too fast.

- Using a larger feeding tube size can increase flow.

- Moving the feeding tube a little further into baby's mouth.

Why is a lactation aid preferred against other alternative feeding methods?

- Babies and moms get practice at breastfeeding

- Moms milk supply is stimulated even while baby is being supplemented

- Baby is still receiving breast milk, even if it is just small amounts.

- It prevents nipple confusion later on

- There are other benefits like bonding and jaw development.

How to use an SNS breastfeeding system

- Make sure that baby latches on correctly. This will ensure that mom gets the best stimulation possible and also helps guard against sore broken nipples.

- The tube can be inserted at the corner of baby’s mouth once latched on, the tube should be pointed slightly upward towards the roof of baby’s mouth.

- You will know when SNS breastfeeding is working when the milk starts to flow down the tube. You do not need to fill the tube with milk before giving it to baby.

- The feeding tube can be taped down on mom’s breast if it gets in the way, but this is not always necessary.

- Mom can hold the tube in place with her fingers.

- NB ~ Do not cut the end of the feeding tube…the end could hurt baby if it’s sharp.

How long should it take for baby to drink with a lact aid?

It takes roughly twenty to forty minutes to breastfeed with a supplemental nursing aid, if it takes longer than an hour mom should make sure that the tube is positioned properly and that baby is latched on well.

How to clean a lact aid device

Clean the bottle as per usual, the lactation aid tube can be rinsed through with hot water straight after using it. Do not boil the tube.

Weaning from an SNS feeding device

- Have patience, it could take a few weeks before baby is weaned from the Supplemental nursing system completely.

- You can start off by breastfeeding without the SNS first and then offering the lact aid afterwards to see if baby is still hungry.


Read more on “breastfeeding problems” in connection with this page on a supplemental nursing system SNS

- Combination feeding

- From breast to bottle

- Alternative feeding methods

- Preemie latching

- Finger feeding

- Cup feeding


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