Ask Design Mom: Preparing For Baby – Feeding

This is part 2 of a five part answer. See links to the other parts here.

In the feeding category, this is what I like to have for a new baby:

There’s not too much to prepare for nursing-wise. Have the baby and few days later your chest will magically fill with milk. : ) When I can, I also love to figure out a favorite nursing spot where I keep water, burb cloths, a stack of books, the phone and a tube of Lansinoh (or this more-natural-remedy from Least Likely To Breed).

Burp cloths.
Babies spit up. It’s nice to have a stack of burb cloths on hand. I like using old-school cloth diapers.

Not all new mothers make use of a pump, but I’m so small-chested that when my milk comes in, it’s crazy painful. The pump relieves some of the pressure so the baby can eat properly. Then I can freeze the extra-milk  — in case I need to miss a feeding. Since pumping is not an everyday thing for me, the simple, non-motorized ones (like this Avent version) are just right. But if you plan to pump regularly, you may want to rent or buy or borrow a hospital-grade version.

Bottles & Nipples.
Although I do nurse, I still keep a couple of bottles on hand, so that Ben Blair can take over a feeding once in awhile and in case of emergencies. There are all sorts of bottles available. I look for something that’s BPA-free. I think I might try these this time. (I love the bright colors!) Nipples come in different sizes (newborn, 3-6 months, etc). I like to have 2 of each size.

Bottle Brush.
It’s surprisingly hard to clean a bottle without a bottle brush.

I know there are worries about nipple confusion, but lucky for me, my babies have been able to go from nursing to bottles to pacifiers without a problem. I keep a bunch of pacifiers around. Five or more. I favor the one-piece versions that are often handed out at the hospital and the Nuks. Which brand does your baby prefer?

Other Stuff:
If you’re learning to nurse and feeling self-conscious about it (you’re not alone, I promise), consider a nursing cover. They allow you some hands-free privacy while you’re figuring things out. And. I’ve never used one, but many moms swear by their nursing pillow (Blessed Nest is one popular brand).

What about you, Dear Readers? What did I miss? What’s on your indispensable feeding list for a new baby?

34 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom: Preparing For Baby – Feeding”

  1. I second the Avent pump and I’ll add the nursing pads – I have the Lana wool ones, warm, dry and comfortable; the Lansinoh disposable ones were not so bad with a gel inside. Anything else I tried felt wet and cold. I like the Mam pacifiers. Since reading the name suggestions I can’t stop thinking about 5-letters name. I came up with Grace. The 6 names together make me feel in Hollywood decades ago.

  2. And if your breasts don’t magically fill with milk….you’re not alone. I wasn’t able to nurse (lots of birth trauma led to milk not coming in). And if you’re bottle feeding in public and people give you the stare down b/c GASP! Shouldn’t you be nursing? Just send ’em my way and I’ll beat them up for you! [oh, and as a side note since breastfeeding is always given the…your child won’t get as sick…..schpeel……my daughter has only been seen by her pediatrician 3x outside of her well child check ups. And she’s three. So there! :) It’s not always so horrible as it’s played out. Nursing is wonderful. But, if you are unable, it is not the end of the world. I promise. I just wish someone would have told ME that as I stubbornly tried everything in the world for the first 3 weeks.

  3. I like to keep a variety of pacifiers. My first child would NOT take naps….and she was only a month old!!! (We tried everything….eventually found that she would take a nap in wrap and then slowly transitioned her to the crib.) She liked having a variety of different pacifiers because the different shape and texture was interesting.

    I also had someone suggest keeping all nursing supplies in a basket you can grab when you are ready to nurse so you don’t have to get up and get what you forgot. (Convenient if you don’t settle on one spot!)

  4. It’s been a while since I had babies, but in case it’s still relevant, I’ll share. The book “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” got me through many long dark nights (I was nursing twins). I can’t even begin to explain in detail, but the way it offered instruction and support felt more like being cared for by my own mother than being taught how to nurse. I would not have stuck with it without this book — if it’s still out there, don’t miss it.

  5. Elena, thanks for mentioning nursing pads! I totally forgot. They were essential after my first 3 babies were born, and then weirdly, I didn’t need them at all after babies 4 and 5. I wonder what will happen with number 6…

    Bridget, SO GLAD about your comment. I fully agree. For a variety of reasons, sometimes nursing isn’t an option. And I’m always so bothered when I read the guilt-inducing literature about nursing. Every mom should feel empowered to do what works for her and her baby.

    Amy, I love the basket idea!

    Upside Up, great recommendation. It’s so nice to find a book that’s comforting and not patronizing.

  6. Great series of posts! I think that any expectant mom who hopes to nurse can benefit from a breast feeding class and the help of a lactation consultant. As soon as you check into the hospital to deliver ask to get onto the LCs’ rotation schedule and make sure that you have a feeding observed before you head home. As far as domestic preparation is concerned, seating with some kind of arm rest is useful, or get the brest friend pillow for extra support. It is a million times better than the boppy.

  7. We use the Lifefactory bottles when we give a bottle, and I love them. I’ve dropped them several times, but never a crack (knock on wood).
    Two other things I have nearby when I nurse: 1) a large glass of water, and 2) a book, especially during those first few weeks when feedings were l-o-n-g and frequent, and my daughter’s eyes were closed most of the time anyway. I especially loved “Unbuttoned,” a collection of short memoirs on the topic of breastfeeding.

  8. A nursing pillow was a must for me. I used the boppy (well 3 or 4) while I nursed my four girls. I kept one upstairs and one downstairs because I’m lazy! I also had a great neck roll pillow thing that went on the back of my rocking chair to support my head during all the middle of the night feedings.

  9. what about fashionable nursing clothes? i am having THE hardest time finding tops. tanks seems to be everywhere, but it’s near impossible to find shirts with sleeves that are of a simple design without several layers of fabric to get through. anyone know where i can find some inexpensive (because you know they’ll get spit up on) options?!?!

  10. I second the my breast friend pillow, it was much easier than the boppy to me and I never would have survived without it. I would put a blanket over it to catch spit up though, the covers are kind of a pain to change.
    I fell in love with my kindle because it was easy to read and not have to turn pages.
    As for nursing clothes I tended to wear nursing tank tops from target under everything, that way I could pull my top shirt up and was still completely covered.
    My last tip, I always had extra clothes for me, not just the baby, in the car. My little guy was good at getting all of his spit up on me.

  11. I love your blog, and I wanted to throw some info into the ring.

    I don’t have kids yet, but I did work at a hip baby store for the last 2 years. A few new products that we could not keep in stock were the mimijumi bottles- for babies that won’t take a bottle. Also, there is a new breastfeeding pillow by Dr. Sears- by Balboa Baby. They are a lot cuter than the boppy- in my opinion anyway. And some really cute burp cloths made out of cloth diapers are by Rag a Muffin.

  12. If you’re heading down the pump road you can get the medela pump’n’style pumps on craigslist for about $50 (reg retail $250ish I think) and of course, buy a new kit. I like the playtex vent air bottles. It’s nice that the nipple doesn’t collapse.

  13. I would definitely agree that seeing the Lactation Consultant as soon as possible is great. I requested to have one available for my baby’s first latch after birth. (I had a c-section, so I was able to schedule ahead of time). She was SOOO valuable to me!
    Also, If you have other little ones around the house, have a special activity or “distraction” for your other child(ren). My wonderful girlfriends put together a little “nursing” basket for my older daughter that included activities that she could ONLY use when I was pumping. The basket had a little movie, special coloring books, stickers, markers, books, dot paints, and some lacing cards and big beads. I would let her choose one activity from the basket while I was pumping, so she thought it was a special time for her too. Although, it did not completely distract her from asking “why is that robot eating your boob?”.

  14. Nursing pads are a must and I find that the AVENT Eco-friendly ones are junk. I had to double up on them when I used them and they STILL leaked through even after a couple hours. The best ones I’ve used are Johnson & Johnson. I could wear the same ones for 24 hours and voila! No leakage! I have also found that by adding a bib while nursing and burping has saved MANY outfits from the oh so lovely “sour milk” smell. I take it off once I know he’s done spitting up, but I strategically place a burp cloth under the bib and down my little guys front, so the outfit is saved and I don’t have to change him mid-day. Good luck with the your next adventure!

    ps – totally not nursing related but totally baby related. Petunia Pickle Bottom glazed rollback baby bags are the best! They have this great changing pad that zips down and it’s glazed so you can just wipe off any grime! You should get one if you don’t have a bag already!

  15. Check to see if you have flat or inverted nipple(s) (google it) – breast shells and a nipple shield are very helpful. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding *before the baby arrives (when you’ll actually have time)* via La Leche League,, etc. Know what a proper latch looks and feels like. Have the # for a certified Lactation Consultant handy long before you think you’ll need it. Practice using a breast pump while in the hospital. That all being said…

    Low Milk Supply is actually very common – but no one wants to tell you that because they’re afraid you’ll give up too soon. So they say things like “well you must be doing it wrong.” Maybe not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula feeding – as a supplement or exclusively. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Indeed there is a valid “case against breastfeeding” out there on the internets that is worth reading, too.

    @Design Mom – those weego bottles look pretty, however my DS managed to shatter all but one by the time he was 10 months old (FWIW, the dark blue one survived!)

  16. You’ll also need bottles or bags to store the pumped milk in. Another nice touch is one of those “husband” pillows popular with college kids. They are so comfy to lean against when nursing in bed.

  17. With my first, my back hurt when nursing from hunching over so much. I started putting a phone book under my feet to help prop my feet up while nursing, which seemed to help my back pain as well. After awhile, I got the hang of nursing and didn’t need it, but for the first month or so, it was a huge help!

  18. If you are breastfeeding consider the following:
    heat packs and ice packs to be used if they get sore, heat to get the milk going, ice to sooth the pain … heat back for lower back as well!
    consider wearing tank tops that you can slip under the breast when you are feeding , that way your tummy and side won’t show while you are feeding. So wear the tank and then another top on top … pull down Tank, pull up top, flop out breast.
    If you bottle feed or express, one of those automatic sterilizer units. Load it up during the day, switch on at night.
    And remember to trust your body …

  19. Carry two Ziploc bags with you whenever you leave the house. One that is gallon size and one that is sandwich size. They are remarkably versatile and helpful for baby explosions or other baby related needs. Seriously. You’ll thank me for it.

  20. I used those bottles with my third and ended up throwing them away after a month. They drove me and especially my husband insane. The nipples are awful. I like the Born Free glass bottles, although you have to be a little more careful because they don’t have a rubber cover. You can also find lots of good BPA free plastic bottles.

  21. I’m one of those that can’t live without my Boppy. It’s useful for nursing plus a million other things. I think I’d be just as addicted if I wasn’t nursing.

    My #1 recommendation though: The book “So That’s What They’re For”, by Janet Tamaro. Most hilarious and useful guide to nursing there is.

    And don’t let the nay-sayers discourage you. True, there are times breastfeeding doesn’t work, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if that’s the case. But it’s also incredibly hard to figure out the first go round and there will likely be many folks in your life telling you to just give the kid a bottle. Stick to your guns. Despite what the “experts” tell you, it will hurt like h^!! for a bit. But if you’ve got your latch right, it’ll go away. Figure 2 weeks of torture and frustration to really figure it all out. And for what it’s worth…the formula pushers don’t go away. 6 months down the line when you’re battling teething issues (I.Am.Not.A.Chew.Toy.) they’ll tell you to wean. You don’t need to.

    Oops, guess I’ll get off my soapbox now…(can you tell I’m in the thick of this very situation?)

    Last bit – I also love the nursing tanks from Target for the same reasons as Emily. Easy access with no need to expose your whole belly. But some may find they are not as supportive as they’d like. I just add another nursing bra underneath.

  22. I wanted to second Bridget’s comment… don’t let those lactation specialists bully you into thinking you are the only one who can’t nurse… some people don’t produce insulin, I don’t produce milk… oh well (though after my first baby I didn’t feel that confident). If you are bottle feeding exclusively you should get a microwave bottle sterilizer (love not having to boil the bottles or start the dishwasher everytime I run out of bottles… 4 min in the microwave and I am done). And I love my bedside bottle warmer… I only use it the first little while but it is great.

  23. The names of two lactation consultants. Board certified, in case there are problems with breastfeeding. Two, in case you don’t “fit” with the first one. Also, nursing bras! There’s was this awesome woman who came to my house and fitted me there after my son was born, didn’t even have to leave the house.
    My son LOOOOOVES his Mam pacifiers. Didn’t like the Avent so much.
    A friend of mine raves about the My Breast Friend pillow…also, a nursing cover in a pretty pattern that you can clip over your shirt and the baby so that you can nurse privately in public.

  24. Tea Bags (caffeine ones). Use them with sore nipples and no need for Lansinoh. Use hot tap water, get them wet and put them in your bra on nipples. Works like magic and just learned about them 2 months ago when I had my daughter.
    Sports bras. They are the easiest to use when nursing and pumping.

  25. Chocolate!

    My wonderful boss got me a box of individually wrapped Dove chocolates, and I kept them by the rocker. And water – lots of water…all that chocolate and nursing makes you thirsty.

    I love that you use the old-fashioned burp cloths – we use them for everything: spit up, butt cloths, emergency blankets (AC in stores can be harsh sometimes) – and when we’re all done, they’ll be cleaning rags.

    Pump – I used a Medela, but I don’t have any real brand loyalty. Despite not having a baby that took a bottle, I used it to relieve painful engorgement, help with clogged ducts, travel and even as a pump and dump when I had to be on medications that didn’t allow me to nurse. It was a lifesaver! I ended up storing my milk and donating it.

    Boppy – got ours used, and I loved it for night time feedings and feedings when she was still really new. It also because a safety net for when she was learning to sit up.

    Nursing cover – I didn’t really have a use for one except at a wedding when I didn’t want to leave the table. I agree though – it depends on the mama.

    Lansinoh – this stuff is gold. Not only does it help when breastfeeding, my hands survived winter with this stuff. It also helped with my poor nose when I was in my last trimester – no nosebleeds!

    Bra pads – I used these a lot when we were first learning to nurse, and it helped my bra stay clean (no Lansinoh stuck to it), but the greatest use I got was when I needed to medicate because of thrush.

    A lacatiation consultant – the nicest thing I did for myself at the birthing center – she helped me feel so much more confident and capable.

  26. I am having my fourth in 4 weeks and am glad for this refresher. I second (or fifth) the nursing pads and have only liked the Lansinoh ones. And Lansinoh is a must – and good for use on kids who lick their lips, it helps get rid of the redness and irritation that comes from them doing it. I love multi-functional products!

  27. I breastfed my first and plan on breastfeeding my second. I loved my Medela pump and Hooter Hider!! Lasinoh breast milk bags to use for freezing and storage I think are the best and easiest to use and get all extra air out of. I didn’t really get into breast pads while nursing but I did love the gel pads that can be therapeutic and comforting when you’re first beginning bfing. We used glass bottles mostly and I wish we’d had the bottle protectors when we did because I’m such a clutz and broke a few! We didn’t use a paci with our first but I will for sure with our second! Thanks for recommending Nuks!

  28. Nursing pads are a must, but being small-chested, most of the pads were too bulky for me. Also bulky pads can get hotter and that can lead to more infection. I found that Gerber makes a very thin nursing pad that works great-no leaks!- without being super bulky. Also letting your nipples air dry is a great way to cut down on pain and infection.
    Also, I have found that many breast-fed babies refuse to take a bottle only because the flow is different than what they are used to. Apparently I have a very fast flow, so I get fast flow nipples for my baby’s bottles, even when they are little, and they take to them much easier. So just a note of caution: if you think you’re baby won’t take a bottle, match the flow!
    Same with pacifiers, I hear so many parents say “my child won’t take a pacifier,” but it may just be that you haven’t found just the right size, shape or material that they like. Keep trying different ones until you find what they like.
    That’s what I’ve learned so far (baby #3 is due in Oct). Hope this helps someone!


    I used this cover with my second baby…it is nice since it is coverage in front and back, like a shawl, but made with this really lightweight fabric that is breathable and liquid bubbles on it for easy cleaning. Loved it!

    Thanks for the lists!

  30. Nursing pads! Lansinoh’s brand was my favorite. I would leak constantly, even after my milk came in. And it would spray everywhere because I had a really strong letdown. Definitely needed those nursing pads!

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