Advice on infant feeding for new parents

Published on
04 August 2023

Feeling confident about feeding a new baby can be difficult. Kirsty Edgson, Barnardo’s Strategic Lead for Health Visiting, shares some advice on feeding your child, however you choose to do it.

Becoming a new parent brings so many new experiences. Some can be exciting, scary and push you out of your comfort zone, especially if this is your first child.  

Getting the hang of successfully feeding your baby, particularly if you choose to breastfeed, can be really challenging in the first days and months of parenthood. You may well have heard about the benefits of breastfeeding, but what if it simply isn’t an option for you and your baby or you struggle to do so successfully?  

Look after your own mental health

Lots of parents and carers with children of any age can feel like they must do, say or believe in certain things in order to raise their children the 'right’ way.

Parents and carers can put themselves under huge amounts of pressure that has a hugely detrimental impact on their mental health, especially in the early stages of parenthood.

Kirsty Edgson

Barnardo’s Strategic Lead for Health Visiting

Up to 20% of new mums can experience post-natal depression or peri-natal depression (PND), and this is not the same as the 'baby blues' (Personal Social Services Research Unit, 2014). PND tends to last much longer, maybe for a few weeks or months, and is an inescapable feeling of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, or shame. PND is not a sign of weakness. It is a recognised mental health condition and should be treated as such. It can also be aggravated by difficulties such as struggling to breastfeed.  

If you find yourself or someone you know in this position, speak to a health visitor or midwife who will be able to help support you and discuss different feeding options with you.  

Ask for help when you need it 

We know that it takes a village to raise a child and so, if you have a support network of friends and family around you, now is the time to lean on them. Local baby classes or family centres are also a good place to meet other parents in the area.

Ask others to help you with everyday tasks if you can such as holding, cuddling, carrying, and settling your baby as well as changing nappies and looking after bath times which will all help to reduce your stress levels as a new parent.  

Your health team should be there from the very beginning, and it’s never too early to think about what feeding options may be right for you and your family. Being able to make an informed choice is essential.

Feeding after returning to work 

If you’ve been successfully breastfeeding whilst on maternity leave and then need to return to work, it’s worth exploring things you might be able to put in place to support you to continue if you so wish.  

With support and a bit of time management, it may be possible to fit in feeds around your work schedule or express at work so that the person looking after your child can give them a bottle. Speak to your employer if you are interested in exploring whether this could work. You may also feel that you want to stop breastfeeding at this point.

Do what’s right for you and your baby and speak to your health visitor for advice and support.

Kirsty Edgson

Barnardo’s Strategic Lead for Health Visiting

Close up of a baby breastfeeding


Learn more about the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding, as well as reading advice and guidance on things like expressing and storing breastmilk.

Man sitting in a car bottle feeding a baby

Bottle feeding

You can bottle feed your baby with expressed breast milk, formula milk, or a combination of both. Find out more about responsive bottle feeding and how to feed safely. 

Barnardo's family space logo

Barnardo's Family Space

Visit our virtual hub offering support for all stages of your parenting or caring journey. Our nationwide network of family hubs and children’s centres provides services directly to parents and care givers of children of all ages. If you aren’t able to get to one, we hope you will find information that helps you here.