These special babies are particularly prone to infections, especially respiratory infections, so the protection provided by breast milk is very valuable.
Some babies with Downs Syndrome feed slowly, weakly or with little interest because of muscle weakness, a poor sucking reflex, or sleepiness. However, bottle-feeding would be just as time-consuming. With patience you're highly likely to succeed with breastfeeding and you'll be sure you're doing the best for your baby. Just as with any baby, avoid using a bottle and formula because learning to bottle-suck interferes with learning to breastfeed.
If your baby is too tired to suck for long, express some milk and give it from a cup. You may need to encourage him to suck by giving him lots of skin to skin contact, encouraging your milk to let down before you put him to the breast, and expressing a few drops of milk into his mouth. Feed before he has to cry, to avoid tiring him. If he's so sleepy that he doesn't wake very often, wake him for a feed every two hours or so if necessary during the day and every three hours at night.
Breastfeeding Helps Babies With Downs Syndrome
Breastfeeding incidentally will also help the development of the mouth, tongue and facial muscles and this improved muscle tone helps with the speech development in a baby with Downs Syndrome..
One mother of a baby with Down's Syndrome commented: 'I'm sure that breastfeeding and the closeness that came with it helped me to love and accept him just as he was'.
Downs Syndrome is a genetic disorder where the child has an extra chromosome on the 21st pair of chromosomes. This results in a variety of problems, ranging from fairly mild learning difficulties in some children to life threatening heart conditions in others.