10.2  Assess breastfeeding

Not all infants need to be assessed for breastfeeding. For example, you will not need to do a breastfeeding assessment in the following cases:

  • If the infant is exclusively breastfed without difficulty and is not low weight for age
  • If the infant is not breastfed at all
  • If the infant has a serious problem requiring urgent referral to a hospital.

In these situations, classify how the infant is feeding based on the information that you have already obtained.

If the mother’s answers to your questions about breastfeeding indicate a difficulty, or if the infant is low weight for age, you should observe a breastfeed (how you do this is described below). Low weight for age in an infant is often due to low birth weight. Low birth weight infants are likely to have a problem with breastfeeding.

You should assess breastfeeding in the following circumstances:

If the infant:

  • Has any difficulty feeding
  • Is breastfeeding less than eight times in 24 hours
  • Is taking any other foods or drinks
  • Is low weight for age.

And/or the mother is:

  • Switching the breast frequently without emptying one breast first, and
  • Has not increased feeding if the infant is ill.

You should not try to assess breastfeeding if the infant needs to be referred urgently.

However, if the infant has any need for urgent referral then you should not try to assess breastfeeding. In this situation, you should just refer the infant.

10.1  Assessing feeding problems

10.2.1  Assessing breastfeeding