Before the first use and after every use, the syringe should be washed. To do this:
- Pull the plunger out of the syringe.
- Take the black cap off the plunger.
- Wash all three pieces with hot, soapy water.
To feed by syringe:
- Wash your hands well.
- Place the milk in a reservoir.
- Fill the syringe with milk from the reservoir.
- Place the baby in a baby chair or car seat in front of you on a low table. The baby’s body should be half-way between sitting upright and lying down (a 45-degree angle).
- Gently let the baby suck on your index (pointer) finger. If you have larger fingers, try your ring or pinky finger.
- Once the baby is sucking calmly, place the syringe tip along side your finger, inside the baby’s mouth.
- You need to feel the tip of the syringe next to your finger at all times to prevent injury to the baby.
- Inject a small amount of milk as the baby sucks.
- If the baby is not sucking, don’t inject.
- If the milk sprays back at you, you need to move the tip of the syringe farther into the baby’s mouth.
- Once the syringe is empty, while leaving your finger in the baby's mouth, remove the syringe, refill, and continue as above until the baby no longer shows hunger signs.
- Remove your finger from the baby's mouth.
- Syringe feeds should not take more than 30 minutes.
It is easy to knock over the milk reservoir as you are refilling the syringe with one hand. It may help to place the milk in a cup with a broad base or in a second container.
Once you are done, you need to thoroughly clean the syringe. The syringes usually get sticky and need to be replaced after a few days.
Some parents use droppers instead of syringes. The squeezable part of the dropper may become contaminated with milk and needs to be carefully washed after each use.
Some mothers use a syringe with a sharp tip to replace the tube-at-the-breast system. This can be a bit cumbersome if the mother does not have a helper, as only one of the mother’s hands is available to hold the baby at the breast as the other needs to hold the syringe. This can also increase the risk of injury to the child.