What Is Your Infant’s Nursing Style?

by DivineCaroline Partner

What Is Your Infant’s Nursing Style?

Breastfeeding is never as simple and straightforward as it might seem. Indeed, Edith Jackson, a pediatrician at Yale described (in the 1950s) five different nursing styles. Knowing the style a baby has, helps you know how to respond appropriately:


These babies know what they are after; grab the breast and suck vigorously for ten to twenty minutes. They are sometimes called “little vacuums.” For these babies it is important that they are firmly and comfortably attached. In their eagerness some barracudas may latch on in a way to cause pain. If this happens it is best to detach the baby and start over until the fit is comfortable for you both.


These babies are impulsive; in their eagerness to feed they grab the nipple with their mouths, then may lose it and cry out in frustration. For these babies, it makes sense to try and anticipate when they will want to nurse. This sometimes occurs when the baby gets up from a nap or tries to suck its thumb. You can help the baby by making feeding a priority and doing it in a comfortable setting. The movement of a rocking chair can sometimes help.


These “lazy” eaters don’t seem to want to take the trouble during the first few days after birth. Even when they cry for the breast, they may desist after a quick suck or two. Although these babies may seem easy, sleep a lot and cry less, they need a lot of attention. You have to try and feed them every hour. Even if the baby does not seem to be getting enough, he or she may be getting enough. The baby’s weight is a good index. All babies lose weight in the first few days after birth, but should regain at least birth weight in about ten days.


Like all gourmets, these babies like to taste their food in advance. Such babies play with the nipple, and taste the milk before they begin sucking in earnest. Once they find it to their liking they nurse well. As with barracuda’s it is important that the bite is right and not painful, it is okay to detach the baby to get a more comfortable fit. Like all gourmets, these babies may give evidence of really enjoying their meal.


Resters are not likely to ever get fat. Like most thin people, they do not rush their meal and take rests between each mouthful. Sometimes they fall asleep during nursing and wake up wanting to resume where they left off. Don’t be misled by the rester into thinking he or she is not getting enough from that particular breast. Let your own sense of the fullness of your breasts, rather than the babies eating pattern be your guide. These babies can’t really be hurried and you just have to resign yourself to taking the time to feed them. The one on one time with your baby is very important to your relationship, so take the time and enjoy it.

Professor David Elkind