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Tips for breastfeeding when your baby is sick

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Did you know that when you or your baby is sick, your breast milk changes by increasing antibodies and helpful vitamins and nutrients? Yay, human milk! However, while sick your baby might want to breastfeed for shorter periods, need breaks, or refuse at times. This could be due to a stuffy nose or sore throat etc.


A Black woman Breastfeeding a Toddler in Koala Hold Position

Tips for breastfeeding when your baby is sick:

  • Offer the breast often and keep track of your baby's wet diapers and overall appearance for signs of dehydration.

  • Try nursing in upright positions like the koala hold (pictured) or in a baby carrier if possible.

  • Nurse in a steamy bathroom or use a humidifier

  • Offer slightly frozen human milk in a silicone mesh feeder

  • Lots of skin-to-skin, cuddles, and babywearing

  • Try saline drops/spray to loosen mucus then keep your baby upright or do tummy time so it can drain out, then wipe away with a tissue.

  • Try a few drops of breast milk to thin mucus then keep your baby upright or do tummy time so it can drain out, then wipe away with a tissue.

  • (Note on nasal aspirators: frequent sealed-off/forceful suctioning of the nostrils can cause the nasal passages to swell and worsen things)

  • If your baby is not nursing effectively, pump to maintain your milk supply. >> If you’re concerned about your baby’s symptoms, contact your pediatrician.

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