Every professional, who comes into contact with mothers, infants, or small children, should be correctly informed about breastfeeding and infant nutrition, and promote its continuation. It is scientifically recommended, that children should breastfeed for at least the first one to two years of their lives. For this to become feasible, it is necessary for all places dealing with breastfeeding mothers, infants, and toddlers, to verbally and actively encourage and facilitate breastfeeding. In foreign countries, breastfeeding mothers are able to leave their little ones at a nursery supportive of breastfeeding when they return to work.
What are the basic features of a baby- friendly nursery?
It provides a clean and comfortable area for the mother who wants to breastfeed or use a breast pump. The mother may want to breastfeed her infant as soon as she brings him to the nursery, at the end of the day before she takes him home, or in the meantime, if she is able to come back. It is a quiet area, with a comfortable chair for the mother, and clean water to wash her hands.
It provides a fridge, and the mother is able to bring her own milk to the nursery, for it to be fed to her child. The nursery staff know the basic principles for the storage and preparation of breast milk.
Each baby is fed according to his individual needs, even if this means adjusting the feeding schedule of the nursery. Infants in particular should be fed when hungry, and not according to a strict and rigid schedule. They should eat as much as they want, and not the quantities that have been pre-decided for them. Most babies, who have been breastfeeding for a while, are used to small and frequent food intake, something that should be respected by the nursery staff.
It discourages the use of pacifiers, and the intake of water or tea by babies under four months old, who are breastfeeding. It also discourages the use of bottles for babies over 18 months old, encouraging them instead to use a glass.
It provides infants with solid food according to international guidelines, i.e. from the age of six months and above. Their policy on food is in accordance with scientific recommendations, preferring home-cooked food to ready-made baby food, as well as fresh and not processed ingredients. Pureed food is discouraged for babies older than 12-18 months, and soft foods, or food cut into pieces, are encouraged, with the child using a spoon or his hands.
Unfortunately, in our country, the education of early childhood and kindergarten teachers concerning the promotion of breastfeeding is lacking. It is not rare for a breastfeeding mother, who has to return to work, and leave her baby at a nursery, to face belligerence from the nursery’s staff because of her choice to breastfeed. Actually, this baby is lucky, because he will be better protected against viruses at the nursery. In the future, Greece will also have nurseries that will properly support breastfeeding, working mothers. In the future, parents will be able to choose a nursery for their little one, taking into consideration its “baby-friendly” certification.
Stelios Papaventsis MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010