19 Apr 2023 | 4 min Read
Author | 1053 Articles
Dry nursing, or comfort nursing, is a process in which an infant or toddler engages in the act of sucking without consuming any breast milk or formula. This practice has been observed in many cultures for centuries and is often used to provide comfort, security, and bonding between a mum and the baby.
According to Nutrition and Lactation Expert Dr Pooja Marathe, another clinical term for dry nursing is non-nutritive suckling. Dr Marathe gives us an insight into the advantages and disadvantages of dry nursing.
Dr Pooja Marathe says, “With dry nursing or breastfeeding the baby can smell and taste the droplets of milk that remain in the breast after pumping but does not actually drink significant amounts of milk.”
According to Dr Pooja Marathe, dry nursing is mostly practised in preterm babies who have various feeding issues. “This is also an extension of kangaroo mother care,” she adds.
Some of the benefits of dry nursing are:
One of the main reasons mums engage in dry nursing is to provide comfort to their babies. The act of sucking is instinctual for babies and can be incredibly soothing, especially during times of stress, teething, or illness.
Dry nursing can help to strengthen the emotional connection and bond between a mum and her baby, fostering a sense of security and attachment.
Many infants and toddlers find dry nursing to be a helpful sleep aid, as the process can help them relax and drift off to sleep more easily.
Engaging in dry nursing can help infants develop their oral motor skills, which are critical for speech development and proper feeding techniques later in life.
Dr Pooja Marathe says, “The only disadvantage is that the baby may take a longer time to obtain optimal weight gain. This method also requires a lot of help and support from the family members.”
The other disadvantages include:
Dry nursing may lead to confusion for the baby when it comes to distinguishing between nutritive (breastfeeding or bottle-feeding) and non-nutritive sucking. However, most babies can differentiate between the two, especially if dry nursing is introduced after breastfeeding or bottle feeding has been well established.
Some parents may be concerned that dry nursing could replace a baby’s need for nutrient-dense breast milk or formula. To prevent this, it’s essential to maintain regular feeding schedules and monitor your child’s growth and development closely.
Dry nursing can lead to nipple soreness or irritation for the mum. Consider using a nipple shield or limiting the duration and frequency of dry nursing sessions.
Dry nursing can help in providing comfort, promoting bonding, and assisting with sleep for infants and toddlers. While mums need to be mindful of the concerns and establish healthy boundaries, incorporating dry nursing into your child-rearing practices can have a positive impact on your baby’s overall development.
By understanding the benefits and potential drawbacks of dry nursing, you can make an informed decision about whether this practice is right for your family.
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