Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition

Infant feeding practices and preferences vary from family to family. While human milk offers ideal nutrition for babies, not everyone chooses or is able to breastfeed/chestfeed their infant. It is important for every Head Start family to feel supported in their infant feeding choice and for every baby to receive proper age-appropriate nutrition. These resources will help Head Start staff promote evidence-based feeding practices for infants and support families in nourishing their babies with human milk or formula.

A Note About Language

As you work with families to discuss and support their infant feeding choices, using inclusive language can make a difference in these conversations. Consider asking families about their preferred terms and be open to changing the words you use. For example, consider using the words “parent,” “birthing parent,” and “pregnant person” instead of or in addition to “woman” and “mother.” Be mindful to identify the partner or support person in a way they prefer, which may not necessarily be “dad.” Many families do not have a co-parent, regardless of how they identify.

“Breastfeeding” is a common term to refer to feeding a baby human milk from one’s body. “Chestfeeding” is another term that can be used as a way for transgender and nonbinary parents to describe how they feed and nurture their babies after childbirth by feeding them milk from their chest. Chestfeeding might also be the preferred term for people who have experienced trauma or anyone who prefers a gender-neutral term. Chestfeeding can also refer to using a feeding tube attached to the nipple, also called a supplemental nursing system.

There are many ways to feed a baby, whether that’s breastfeeding/chestfeeding, bottle-feeding, pumping, formula, or some combination of these. Using inclusive language at a vulnerable time can make a sleep-deprived new parent’s journey more affirming and judgement-free.

Additional Resources