Baby Cup Feeding

Alternative to Bottles

Why cup feed baby instead of bottle feed?

Bottle feeding Baby can very often interfere with breastfeeding,  and it is, therefore, sometimes better to use an alternative feeding method like infant cup feeding or finger feeding.

Baby Cup Feeding Advantages

cleft palate, breastfeeding position for cleft palate, feeding a baby with cleft palate, breastfeeding baby with soft cleft palateA baby with cleft lip and cleft palate
  • If a mother has cracked nipples, she can give them some time to heal.
  • A working mother can use cup feeding as a means to feed her baby during the times that she is at work, to prevent nipple confusion. 
  • If the baby is premature and unable to breastfeed, cup feeding has been found to require less energy and is, therefore, easier for baby.
  • It can be used to feed babies with cleft lip or palate or other sucking problems.
  • Overall, it reduces the occurrence of nipple preference.
  • It encourages a baby to use his/her mouth and lips more for proper development.
  • If the baby has been refusing the bottle, he/she might take easily to cup feeding. 
  • Cup feeding is a great alternative to special breastfeeding bottles or bottles that mimic breastfeeding.

How to Cup Feed

How to cup feed Baby

  • Swaddle your baby to minimize arm movement, which will prevent him/her from knocking the feeding cup out of your hands.
  • Use a flexible little bowl or shot glass as a feeding cup.
  • Fill the feeding cup with about 1oz of pumped breast milk.
  • Position your baby upright so that he/she does not choke. This is very important to prevent aspiration (milk going into his lungs.)  
  • Put the rim of the feeding cup on baby’s lower lip…tilting it just enough for some of the milk to touch his/her lip. Usually, the baby will move his/her tongue down themselves, to explore the cup.
  • Allow the baby to lap the milk up him/herself, do not pour the milk into the baby’s mouth.
  • 30 minutes of cup feeding is usually sufficient especially in premature babies who may become tired quickly.

Tips for cup feeding a baby

  • Cup feeding should be done during times when the baby is alert.
  • You might need to burp the baby a bit more often than usual with cup feeding.
  • Keep a burping cloth nearby to catch any spills or dribbles.
  • Keep the cup on the baby’s lips until he/she shows signs of being finished.

NB – Do not cup feed baby if you are able to breastfeed, especially not in the first few weeks while your milk supply is being built up.

Cup feeding baby is an excellent alternative to bottle feeding. Other methods that can also be used include:

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