It can take time for you to learn how to properly position your baby while feeding him. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to find a position where both you and your baby are comfortable. Your baby will let you know if he doesn’t like a certain position by squirming and fussing, and you’ll both eventually find a sweet spot where settling in becomes quick and easy. However, as you try different positions and angles, make sure you never allow your baby to feed while positioned flat on his back.

A baby is safest on his back in almost every instance except during feeding. Obviously, feeding while on the back is a major choking hazard. Even adults shouldn’t eat on their back for the same reason. Though, there is another problem that can be cause by baby’s head being too reclined while he suckles. In this position, milk will build up at the back of your baby’s throat, which can cause an ear infection.

In the center of your baby’s head lies his middle ear. When liquid flows to this area at the back of the throat without being swallowed, it can collect in the ear canals, which will cause a brutal ear infection. We all know the gut-wrenching pain of an ear infection, and they are even worse for babies who cannot express their discomfort right away. Always make sure your baby is upright enough so that if milk were to collect without being swallowed, it would pool on the back of the tongue and not in the very back of the throat.

If your baby does have an ear infection, there are a few ways you’ll be able to tell early on. First, you should always become concerned when your baby has even a slight fever. This is the first sign that something is wrong internally. Next, you’ll notice that your baby’s mood changes and that he or she is unusually irritable. Your baby might have trouble sleeping or deny his usual food. When the infection has progressed, you’ll see fluid buildup in the ear or draining from the ear. Though, you should be able to detect the infection before that point, as your baby will be in a lot of pain. Call your baby’s pediatrician at the first sign of an ear infection. Left untreated, it could have very serious consequences that might even cause permanent damage.

Source: Sheryl Abrahams et al: Breastfeeding and Otitis Media. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports Volume 11 Issue 6 pp. 508-512 December 2011

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