Breast feeding or bottle feeding. This can be quite an intense debate among parents of newborns. Regardless of how the baby is fed, there is something important that parents can miss.
When your newborn is being fed, one side of her body is up against yours so it has less freedom than the other. Her head and body can mainly move in one direction – the side away from you. With breastfeeding, this is corrected when the baby moves over to the other breast.
This seems like a small thing and hardly worthy of a blog post but it’s the simple things that can make the most difference. Switching sides is important because it allows the baby a balanced input of perception, sensation and movement into the her central nervous system. This is necessary for proper development.
While bottle feeding, switching sides is less intuitive. It’s likely to be more comfortable to hold the bottle with your dominant hand and you’re more likely to hold the baby in the same position each time, consistently limiting movement on one side.
Over time, this causes an imbalance in how the baby develops as well as muscle growth. It can even affect how he senses the world. The baby will start to have decreased movement to one side, which can lead to torticollis (head tilt). It can also result in plagiocephaly (flatness of the skull). Because of the decreased muscle development on one side, it’s easier for him to keep his head turned to one side over the other. When sleeping this will prevent movement, causing a flat area of his head.
If you are bottle feeding, what do you do? The first step is to start feeding with the bottle in your other hand (not the one you usually use). Do this for about a week or so. The next step is to switch sides during each feeding time. Try to spend as much time on one side as the other. Bonus step: Carry your baby around in your non dominant hand when not feeding to enhance the results. (This will encourage baby to look in the opposite direction, over your other shoulder).
If you think that the one sided feedings have already affected your baby because she prefers one side, or there’s a definite flatness developing in her head, a consultation with a pediatric chiropractor is the next step. Caught early enough, these symptoms can be reversed.