Cup-feeding can only be used on babies that are past 32 weeks, as they
have not yet developed their suck, swallow and breathing reflexes; as a
result, babies born before 32 weeks are fed through a gavage tube.
Watch the cup-feeding video demonstration. Cup-feeding an infant; done by a lactation consultant.
Advantages of Cup-Feeding a Baby
Fewer colic symptoms.
Better weight gain is noticed when using infant cup-feeding.
It is an easily learned skill for an infant.
It provides more appropriate movement of mouth and jaw when compared to bottle feeding.
It is less time-consuming.
It provides a way to feed a baby, that does not include an artificial nipple, which can cause breastfeeding problems later on.
It can be used as one of the best alternative feeding methods, for when the mother is not available to breastfeed.
It decreases the need for a gavage tube after 32 weeks.
It provides a baby with more social stimulation when compared to bottle feeding.
It is less stressful for the baby, as he/she will only
need to deal with milk in their mouth, instead of a nipple as well.
The whole family can do cup-feeding..
Baby feeding cups are inexpensive and easy to use.
Disadvantages of Cup-Feeding Babies
It's one of those alternative feeding methods, that can get messy.
A cup-feeding newborn might learn to prefer the cup over breastfeeding.
It does not cater to the baby’s need to suck.
There is the danger of aspirating milk; the milk could go down the wrong way, into
the lungs; this is why you need to be alert while doing this, as not to
pour the milk down Baby’s throat. You must allow Baby to lap up the milk by him/herself.
How to Cup-Feed Baby
You can use a medicine cup, but you can buy special baby feeding cups.
The tube of the SNS can be taped to a mother's breasts, to make it easier for her to use.
Mom might need to hold the tube in place while breastfeeding. The tube should be placed in the corner of the baby’s mouth.
A baby should not take longer than 20 minutes to finish 30ml, as this could indicate that he/she is not properly latched on.
Advantages of Lactation Aids
Babies are kept on the breast.
Mothers learn to breastfeed, even if they are mostly supplementing with formula in the beginning.
Baby is less likely to reject the breast, than if he/she was supplemented with a bottle or cup.
A mother can breastfeed, and formula-feed her baby at the same time, without using a bottle. So, therefore, it is time-saving, and no artificial nipples are used.
Mom's breasts are stimulated to increase milk supply.
Other Alternative Feeding Methods
Spoon feeding – Allows the baby to take the milk at his/her own pace.
Syringe feeding – Dropping milk into a baby’s mouth, while holding him/her upright. This can also be used while breastfeeding; place the syringe in the corner of the baby’s mouth during breastfeeding, this will encourage Baby to suck. (Should be done with a lactation consultant the first few times)
A special bottle called a breastfeeding bottle, or otherwise known as a Haberman Feeder can be used for infants with oral or facial abnormalities, and also for infants who have a delayed suck reflex.