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feeding and nutrition

Breastfeeding: Understanding ‘responsive feeding, rooting and rooming in’

Find out what is meant by ‘responsive feeding, rooting and rooming in’

The lowdown on responsive feeding, rooting and rooming in’

What you need to know about responsive feeding, rooting and rooming in’

Responsive feeding

Breastfeeding your baby is the most natural thing in the world and a perfect way to bond with your little one. And with a little advice and practice, you’ll soon find out how rewarding it is for you both.

Ideal food

Breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed your baby. Some new mums will find breastfeeding their baby really easy, but most mums and babies have to learn what to do. Just remember, practice makes perfect! Babies need feeding frequently as they have tiny tummies when they’re first born. 

First feeds

Healthy babies carried to term may not feed very much in the early days. They have special stores that nourish them until your full milk comes in. However, it’s important to offer your baby a feed frequently as this kick starts the milk let-down. Let them breastfeed for as long as they want. This will help establish a full milk supply to match the demand.


A hugely important food, colostrum is a very, very concentrated type of early breastmilk, packed with antibodies which kick start your baby’s immune system, so they get the best possible protection against infections. There’s not much of it in quantity, but it’s far superior in quality to anything else you could feed a newborn. Colostrum gradually changes over a few days into full breastmilk.

Even if you’re still undecided about breastfeeding try to give your baby the all-important colostrum. If you get on well you may decide to carry on. If not, at least you’re giving your baby a really good start.

Responsive feeding

After the creamy colostrum of the first few days, your full milk starts to be produced, which changes throughout the feed. The milk at the start of the feed quenches your baby’s thirst. It gradually changes, and the amount of fat increases to give a richer milk, which satisfies their hunger.

It’s important that your baby feeds for as long as they want on each breast. This is baby-led feeding (sometimes also called ‘demand’ or ‘responsive’ feeding). At some feeds your baby may just feel like a snack, at others they may want a full meal, so don’t be surprised if they take a different amount at each feed.
At night keep your baby nearby and feed lying down if you can. Leave the light off and only change their nappy if it’s soiled.


You’ll know when your baby is hungry, because their head will turn into you, and they’ll brush their lips from side to side against you; sometimes really quickly.


This just means keeping your baby by your bed. It will help you to get to know each other, and it’s more convenient for night time feeds. Better still, babies cry less and sleep better when they stay near their mum.

Let-down reflex

Once you’ve both got the hang of feeding, you may feel a tingling or a warmth in your breasts when your baby cries or when you begin a feed as your body releases hormones to get the milk flowing. It can happen just by thinking about your baby and you may leak some milk too.

Premature babies

If your baby is premature it is still important to feed them your breastmilk, although you may be asked to express this at first.
A mother of a premature baby will produce different milk from that of a mother who has a baby full term. This milk is higher in growth factors and antibodies to help fight infection.

Breastfeeding: Understanding ‘responsive feeding, rooting and rooming in’