Does texting while breastfeeding interrupt bonding?

Breastfeeding may be about feeding babies first, but it’s also about bonding.

Dr. Jack Newman, founder of the International Breastfeeding Centre (ibconline.ca) and author of “The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers,” has been helping mothers and babies nurse since 1984, and while there isn’t yet data on the potential effects of “brexting,” or texting while breastfeeding, he knows it’s a trend.

Early bonding is a bidirectional process – it takes two. And it depends mostly on eye and skin-to-skin contact. This crucial exchange in the first few months of baby’s life is to make sure baby stays close to the caregiver for survival, but the quality of the attachment also organizes and defines the infant's cognitive and emotional brain.

What effect does texting while breastfeeding have?

It’s distracting. Breastfeeding does not require deep concentration, but it is important the mother and baby pay attention to each other and look at each other and enjoy this relationship, which texting interferes with.

How crucial is bonding in the first months of a child's life?

It’s very important. Breastfeeding is when the mother and baby are closest to each other. This is an opportunity for mothers and babies to fall in love with each other. This starts at birth but it continues and deepens.

What might mom miss out on while texting?

The faces the baby makes, how older babies will smile at her, that sort of thing. Older babies also put their hands into the mother’s mouth and play with her nose. These early cues are baby’s first attempts at communication, and if mom is looking elsewhere, it may confuse them and interrupt or delay the benefits of bonding.

What should moms be doing while breastfeeding?

Basically they should be falling deeper and deeper in love with their baby and their baby should be falling deeper and deeper in love with the mother. I don’t think mothers should be shamed about it texting and while breastfeeding either. But it should be limited.

Dr Jack Newman is a Canadian physician specializing in breastfeeding support and advocacy since 1984.

Dr Jack Newman is a Canadian physician specializing in breastfeeding support and advocacy since 1984.