Breastfeeding: Tips and topics for the science-minded

© 2008-14 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved

These breastfeeding tips and feature articles are based on discoveries in evolutionary, cross-cultural, and clinical research.

Here you’ll find evidence-based information on such topics as

Newborns. opens in a new windowWhat they can smell and taste, and the opens in a new windowevidence in favor of frequent feedings for newborns (and against a regimented newborn feeding schedule)

Feeding “on demand” or “on cue.” The evidence in favor of opens in a new windowfeeding babies on cue, and a opens in a new windowreview of cross-cultural practices that make feeding “on cue”  easier.

Breast milk. opens in a new windowThe nutrients and calories in breast milk, and the opens in a new windowpossibility that milk produced at night makes babies sleepy

The transition to solids. How flavors in breast milk and formula opens in a new windowinfluence baby food preferences.

And, on a related topic, I’ve reviewed research concerning the health benefits and risks of opens in a new windowconsuming cow’s milk. Cow’s milk isn’t good for babies under 12 months. Is it good for toddlers and older children? The answer may depend on your family’s health history and on what other sources of protein and calcium you have available.

Why babies benefit from feeding “on cue”

For many generations, Western parents have been encouraged to put their babies on regimented feeding schedules. Is this a good idea? Probably not. Read more about opens in a new windowthe infant feeding schedule and the importance of feeding on demand.

This article explains why babies are better off regulating their own intake. It covers the evolution of breastfeeding, hunter-gather practices, clinical studies of milk quality, infant growth, stress, pain, and even napping.

For information about the special case of newborns, see my article on the opens in a new windownewborn feeding schedule.

Practical breastfeeding tips

Do you really need to switch breasts during a feeding session? No. Does alcohol increase milk production? No–the reverse seems to be true. Check out opens in a new windowthese breastfeeding tips for the details.

What’s in your breast milk?

The composition of breast milk changes depends on a variety of factors, including how long you have been lactating and how frequently you feed your baby. Learn more about the opens in a new windownutrients and calories in breast milk.

This article covers colostrum and “mature” breast milk, and discusses the role of fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It reviews the many factors that influence the composition of your breast milk, and offers tips for improving its quality.

In addition, read about how the opens in a new windowflavors in breast milk influence your baby’s food preferences and the possibility that breast milk produced in the evening contains substances that opens in a new windowpromote sleep.

Breastfeeding on demand: A cross-cultural perspective

Both the World Health organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that mothers breastfeed “on demand” or “on cue”–i.e., letting the baby determine the timing of feedings.

That’s easier said than done. Does your culture support breastfeeding on demand? Read about these opens in a new windowcross-cultural breastfeeding practices that make it easier.

Content of “Breastfeeding tips and topics” last modified 2/2014