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Sarah Norris – The Baby Detective

Feeding Your Baby – Why Anticipating Problems Can Help.
October 7, 2018

Feeding Your Baby – Why Anticipating Problems Can Help.

When I stop and think about infant feeding situations I’ve encountered over the last 25 years they are all very different in experience and outcome, but do seem to have common ground.

They are all affected by the same 4 Feeding Factors
Mental Attitude

These factors can interact in any combination to impact your infant feeding journey.

They may enhance, complicate or derail, but most importantly, any negative effects can be massively reduced by thorough preparation.

What Do I Mean By Preparation ?
This can mean different things to different people but for me, the first step in preparing for anything is always to educate myself, not just on how to do something right, but also to be aware of what can go wrong so I can plan ways to cope if the worst happens.

In order to build my website I had to start from scratch, and approach the whole business of trying to create a brand from a position of humble (but hopeful) ignorance, and so set about educating myself.

To do this I hunted around blogs and tutorials, read everything I could find with an open mind, and gradually found sources that seemed well balanced and informative, but which explained things in a way I could understand.

I have learned an amazing amount, and am still learning, but most of my light bulb moments have come after reading ‘how not to’ or ’10 most common mistakes’ blogs etc because that was when I realised what could go wrong with what I was planning to do, and what I could do about it.

I am extremely grateful to those bloggers who shared their disasters so openly because they allowed me to learnt from their mistakes.

They allowed me to prepare myself.

Crazy though this may sound, I actually think learning to build websites and master social media can sometimes seem easy compared to figuring out how you want to feed your baby ( and coming from a technophobe like myself, that is really saying something !)

When it comes to whether or not to consider breastfeeding, many people find themselves caught between the ‘it is wonderful, natural, anyone can do it, and nothing ever goes wrong’ brigade, and those in the ‘oh my god it was awful, cracked, bleeding nipples, oozing pus, sleep deprived’ camp.

Neither of these are of any use if you want to properly prepare and give yourself the best chance of success for whatever feeding plan you are considering simply because they focus on polar opposites of experience/personal bias, and ignore the middle ground, which makes up the majority of infant feeding journeys.

Your Plan A (and why you need a Pan B)
As soon as you announce your pregnancy one of the first thing people ask you is ‘Are you going to breastfeed ?’ and this intense focus on feeding is where possible future problems or successes are rooted.

This is where the 4 Feeding Factors come in to play.

ID 25467944 © Steve Woods |

ID 25467944 © Steve Woods |

I have started with luck (or fate) because it can influence every step of your feeding journey and, though I hate saying it, the truth is that you are pretty much at its mercy.

Like it or not, luck is going to play a huge, possibly even a defining role in your feeding journey.

The only thing you can do to arm yourself against it is to find ways to be as flexible as possible and, by all means, have a Feeding Plan A (your preferred choice) but also have a Plan B, a Plan C and even a Plan D, E, F etc.

Why ?

Because you may have your heart set on breastfeeding, or have beautiful mental images of giving your baby their first bottle but if fate decrees your baby is premature, or that you end up having a long, tiring labour, losing a lot of blood, or having an emergency C-section, the reality may be that someone else gives your baby their first bottle whilst you are in surgery or recovering.

It may be that the physical toll of the birth means your milk onset is delayed so temporary supplementation is required, or your baby could end up in an incubator for weeks and then your whole life will revolve around hospital visits, and pumping.

Whatever happens, if for any reason your original plan doesn’t work out, you need to have a back-up plan in place.

If things start to go wrong, it’s the middle of the night and you are tired, confused and stressed, which scenario is more empowering…to have to start reading books and madly google for answers whilst your baby screams next to you ?


to think ‘ok, this isn’t working, switch to plan B, I know what to do and I have everything I need to hand’ ?

Mental Attitude
Everyone feels differently about infant feeding, and unless there are medical considerations, as far as I am concerned, the only ones qualified to make any decisions are the parents.

Some parents have strong feelings about breast, formula or combination feeding, and their choices come easily, but many are somewhere in between and struggle to decide.

Wherever you stand, the very best thing you can do for yourselves, your baby and your family is to keep an open mind and plan for every eventuality.

If you have to change your feeding plan it is much healthier mentally to be able to accept the necessity and focus on the practical challenges rather than dwell on feelings of guilt and failure, or to waste your time worrying about what other people might say.

This is often the case when there are problems with breastfeeding, and formula has to be considered, but sometimes goes the other way, when a woman who was certain she was not going to breastfeed suddenly changes her mind and wants to give it a go.

In both cases, the more prepared you are beforehand, the easier it is to make changes.

It is important that both parents are equally educated and prepared for the unexpected so they can support each other, but it is even more important for a single parent, because you may have to deal with a suddenly changing situation on your own.

I know that seriously pro-breastfeeding people peddle the idea that any woman can exclusively breastfeed if she just tries hard enough and has the right support but, speaking as someone who has no bias or agenda, your degree of breastfeeding success is heavily influenced by biology.

This may be the luck of the genetics draw, such as having IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue) where you just don’t have enough breast tissue to make enough, or any milk, or it may be something less tangible such as delayed lactation or simply insufficient supply.

It may be that you have a pre existing medical condition such as diabetes, PCOS or hypertension that means you are at risk of having insufficient supply, or the mother has to take medication that is not compatible with breastfeeding.

Sometimes the problem may lie with your baby.

They may have a tongue tie, or be premature and too weak to suck, or simply just struggle to latch, or there may be a mis-match between mother and baby, such as a baby with a tiny mouth and a mother with big breasts and nipples where baby struggles to feed.

Sometimes, persistence and support can make a big difference in the short, medium or long term, but even here, you need to be aware of potential problems, know where to get support, and have strategies and equipment at hand to tide you over until whatever problem is overcome.

Other times, however, no matter what you try, breastfeeding may just not be possible.

If this happens, all you can do is accept the situation, realise you have done your own personal best, and move on with your next chosen plan of action.

ID 108198107 © Vchalup |

What I’m talking about here are all the other factors that may affect your lifestyle e.g. income, housing, location, siblings, other family members, jobs, school runs.

As all these factors interact and possibly pull you and your resources in different directions, your feeding expectations may not match the reality around you.

You may be doing well breastfeeding, but find the restrictions of breastfeeding incompatible with having to look after other siblings, do school runs and after school activities.

You may feel that breastfeeding really isn’t for you, but find you can’t afford the formula so have to continue breast or combination feeding.

You may be loving breastfeeding but have to go back to work so need to pump or combination feed, or you might find that pumping just isn’t practical in your particular job so have to switch to formula.

You may really want to breastfeed, but find the demands on you physically are affecting you mentally and edging you towards depression or anxiety so end up pumping or using formula.

The Bottom Line.
As I hope you can see, your actual feeding journey may be much more complicated and unpredictable than you first thought, with many factors interacting to create something totally unique, but this needn’t be a bad thing.

I haven’t told you all these things to frighten you, but to try and prepare you to the point where you feel confident you have every angle covered, and everything you need at your fingertips.

In this case ignorance is NOT bliss !

It is actually pretty easy to prepare properly.

Just keep an open mind, seek to educate yourself on all the different risk factors and the different feeding methods, and make sure you have all the support and equipment you could possibly need, or at least know where to source it.

Look at yourselves honestly, assess your situation and personalities, and challenge your mindset until you can imagine yourselves facing different challenges.

Anticipate as many different scenarios as you can, and make back up plans to deal with all of them.

This is your baby and your journey as parents, and it is up to you to arm yourselves with everything you need to make it a safe, practical and wonderful journey.

I help parents work through feeding difficulties on a daily basis so I know the difference the right Mindset and good preparation can make when having to deal with Luck, Biology and Situation.

I also know that there is always a solution to every problem if you look hard enough so have faith in yourselves, and Good Luck on your feeding journey.

If you have anything you want to ask or talk about, Please come along and join my Free Facebook Group called Lockdown Babies.

It is a lovely group which is evidence based, non biased and non judgemental, so is a safe place to talk about anything you like.

I am in there every day, and will answer any questions and help any way I can

Sarah x

Why does my baby cry so much in the evenings ?

Some babies really struggle in the evenings, being restless, difficult to feed, crying, or even having major meltdowns…just when you are at your most tired after caring for them all day.

So you head off to Google or online mum groups and you hear terms like Evening Colic, or The Witching Hour, and that’s what we are going to look at in this blog.


Firstly, the term colic is not a diagnosis of a particular problem, it is a description of a pattern of behaviour…basically it describes a baby that cries excessively for 3 hours or more, 3 or more times a week.

As you can see, it’s a very loose description, and the excessive crying can be caused by any number of things, including hunger, tiredness, wind, reflux, illness, pain, teething, over handling, over stimulation.

It can also be a mix of several of these and its your job as a parent to try and figure out what is wrong and deal with it.

What is Evening Colic ?

This is much the same.

It describes a baby that cries excessively during the evening (usually from around 5 or 6pm through to 10 or 11pm, or even later if you are really unlucky).

It is more common in younger babies, under 5 months, but can go on much longer if the cause is not discovered.

We still have to play detective and figure out what is going on, but in this case, a major factor is usually overtiredness and/or over stimulation, along with hunger.

A baby has to cope with so many new things once they are born including learning how to latch on to bottles or teats, drink and breathe at the same time, they are feeling discomfort and pain from their own insides that they can’t understand or do anything about.

Their senses are bombarded by light, sound, movement, textures, tastes, smells, and all the interaction from people around them.

Their brains are in overdrive trying to process all this and its overwhelming and exhausting which is one of the reasons babies need so much sleep.

Naps help, but what they really need is some deep sleep so their subconscious can get on with trying to make sense of it all, so by the time evening comes they have just had enough.

They are exhausted and stressed, sometimes too stressed to eat or go to sleep so they get frustrated, and the only way they have to express themselves is by screaming

Tips to Help You Cope

Once you understand what is going on, it makes it easier for us to figure out ways to help them, such as

  • Try to make sure they get lots of sleep through the day (at least 1 hour of good solid sleep before each feed)
  • Make everything calmer in the evenings by turning down lights and music/tv, and getting rid of visitors. Sometimes the best thing is to remove baby to a dark quiet room, and use gentle music or white noise.
  • Handle them gently, rock, sway and walk around, and talk or sing to them soothingly.
  • Don’t make them wait for a feed. It won’t hurt to bring a feed forwards if it avoids baby getting wound up.
  • Make feeding as easy as possible.

**If you are breastfeeding you can try expressing or using formula from a bottle just for this feed.

**If you think your milk supply could be low (very common at this time of day) then try topping baby up with expressed milk or formula to make sure they have a full tummy.

  • Wind thoroughly but use gentle, passive positions and movements.
  • Swaddle baby so they feel secure, and you can even swaddle them to feed and during winding
  • Take turns with your partner if you have one. It is no easy thing dealing with a crying or screaming baby and can easily stress parents so being able to hand them over to someone else whilst you take a break will make a huge difference – don’t both sit there trying to calm baby, take it in turns.
  • Warm deep baths where baby can float and relax can really help. Turn lights down low, make bathroom warm, you can even get in there with baby if you think that will help. Candles are lovely if you can do it safely.
  • Make bottles a bit warmer than usual.
  • If nothing else works then try using a sling if your back is up to it.

Evening colic get better as baby gets older and they become better able to cope with the world, so if its really bad, just do the best you can to help them, and remember that it will end, it’s not forever.

Older babies can also go through temporary patches of evening colic if they are experiencing developmental changes, or if they are teething or starting nursery or during illness, just remember it is an expression of serious ‘end-of-day-itis’ so try and help them as best you can by managing them and removing all the stress factors you can think of.

I hope this has given you some insight into the problem, and some ideas about how to cope with it if you experience evening colic at any time, but if you have any questions or need more help, I’m always happy to help in my free FB group The Baby Buzz where I hang out every day…I love talking about all things baby 🙂

Sarah x





The Author

I’m Sarah Norris, a Baby Care Consultant and Parenting Coach.

I have spent over twenty five years, often working 24 hours, 6 days a week, supporting hundreds of families with new or young babies aged from newborn to 12 months old, and often helping with their toddlers and older children.

I help parents discover what parenting style they want to use to care for their baby, and offer advice on different approaches that might suit them and their circumstances best.


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