All babies tend to lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first few days and it may take your baby longer to regain this weight and put on more weight. Your Health Visitor will help you to monitor this and you can plot your baby’s weight gain on the Down’s syndrome growth chart in your personal child health record (the inserts mentioned earlier). If you do not have the growth chart, please ask your Health visitor or contact the Family Support Service.
Your baby may have low muscle tone and may find it more difficult to latch onto the breast or bottle teat correctly and to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing. In addition, being able to maintain a seal on the breast or bottle teat can be harder for your baby. Keeping some gentle upward pressure on their chin may help.
Although some babies wake up and clearly show that they are hungry, some babies are very sleepy and need to be gently woken so that they can feed. Making a soft noise or rubbing your baby’s hands and feet can help to rouse your baby ready for a feed.
As your baby may need to make more effort to feed, or may be too sleepy, you may find that they tire quickly before they have had enough milk. Burping and continual gentle stimulation can help them to stay awake for longer whilst feeding and help to ensure that they are getting enough nutrition. Changing breasts several times may help and there are a variety of feeding positions which may make feeding easier and more comfortable for you both.
Simpsons Maternity Pavilion have a website showing different positions, please click here to view it.
Breast milk is understood to have very beneficial properties for a babies development and many babies with Down’s syndrome can successfully learn how to breastfeed. Other babies partly breastfeed and supplement this with expressed milk or formula. Babies fed through nasal gastric tubes can also be given expressed breast milk.
If you would like support, and/or like to talk to a family who has experience with feeding, please contact the Family Support Service.
Feeding and Autoimmunity in Down’s Syndrome Evaluation Study (FADES)
We are looking for new parents willing to complete a questionnaire about their child’s feeding and health as a young baby and at six and twelve months. We will also ask about the child’s health yearly after this until the age of 5 years old
We hope the study will help us understand why children with Down’s syndrome are more likely to experience problems with their hormones and their gut, help reduce this risk and lead to the development of new treatments to help with feeding. If you are interested please speak to your Family support Service Officer who can give you more information.
For more information about feeding and where to find support please take a look at the below publications.