FingerFeeder.com

Supporting successful breastfeeding

What is Finger Feeding?

HazelbakerTM FingerFeeder

by Aidan & Eva

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For more information, please call us at
614-451-1154

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What is Finger-Feeding?


Finger-feeding, a substitute technique for breastfeeding, has probably existed for thousands of years as a way to keep a baby fed who has difficulties going to breast or who needs to be separated from mother for any length of time.

Finger-feeding provides the touch of human skin, as in breastfeeding, for optimal infant to caregiver feedback and to allow the baby to pace the feed. The caregiver’s finger, placed correctly in the baby’s mouth, either encourages the baby’s tongue to come down and forward into its proper placement for breastfeeding or preserves the tongue’s optimal function so that the baby can maintain proper suck-swallow-breathe coordination.

Finger-feeding, for example, might be used after a baby receives a frenotomy for tongue-tie or for a baby with low intro-oral tone, as a therapeutic method to strengthen the tongue and other intra-oral muscles. Other sucking problems also respond well to this alternative feeding method when it is used for therapeutic reasons.

Special Features


Controlled Flow Rate: Milk flows too fast from bottles for most babies. This overwhelming milk flow creates some mild to significant problems for the baby, especially if she or he is experiencing sucking problems. When babies cannot tolerate the flow, they suspend breathing, may cough, sputter or choke during the feed. The baby may develop a compensatory tongue movement pattern that protects the airway but does not efficiently remove milk from the breast. If a baby changes the way they suck because of bottle-feeding, known as Nipple Confusion, they will need to be retrained to suck properly at breast.

A baby may become addicted to the faster flow from the bottle. This Flow Preference, as it is commonly called, causes the baby to become impatient and frustrated at breast. Because the baby has become used to instant flow gratification as soon as the bottle touches his or her tongue, they often will not remain at breast long enough to pull milk out, expecting instant flow gratification at breast just as on the bottle.

Although switching to a slower flow bottle teat can help with these problems, finger-feeding with the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder prevents the development of these problems. The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder requires the baby to pace the feed. Milk will not flow unless the baby exerts effort that mimics good sucking at breast. As a built in feature of the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder, this infant control can be augmented by a gentle squeeze of the milk container should the baby not be able to generate adequate negative pressure to draw milk from the device. However, the top will pop off if the caregiver squeezes too hard thereby ensuring that the baby’s airway is protected from a flow rate that overwhelms their ability.

Easy Handling: Other finger-feeding devices, many makeshift and difficult to handle, do not have built-in pacing features. Those that require the caregiver to push down on a syringe plunger may require added finger and arm strength and guarantee that the flow of milk will be inconsistent, robbing the baby of the opportunity to pace their own feed.

Many other finger-feeding devices require two hands. Using two hands for feeding complicates the feed unnecessarily. As well, other devices must be placed either on a table or in the bra. These placements increase instability of the device making finger-feeding more precarious and involved. The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder was designed to be easily used in one hand, ensuring feed consistency and ease while freeing up the opposite arm and hand to provide postural stability to the baby for optimal feeding and to cuddle.

Flexible Tubing: Others have very stiff tubing. Stiff tubing causes some babies to reject feedings, the firmness of the tube creates discomfort at the hard palate. Conversely, if the tube is too soft, it will collapse, preventing milk flow, when the baby exerts negative pressure during sucking.

Better Results: The devices that sit next to the mother on a table have long tubes. The extra length requires that the caregiver assist with the feed by raising the device if the baby cannot produce enough negative pressure. Longer tubing also demands greater intra-oral pressures to pull the milk through the tubing, a problem for many babies experiencing breastfeeding difficulties. Either way, optimal feed pacing can be undermined using these devices. The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder eliminates these concerns: its tubing is the perfect length to ensure proper feeding technique.

Easy Assembly and Cleaning: The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder has only a few parts that assemble easily. It takes but one try to learn how to put it together correctly. This efficient design also makes it easier to keep clean. Instructions for proper assembly and cleaning come with the device.

Durable: Unlike many other devices used for finger-feeding, The Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder is durable and can be used indefinitely for the same baby. It can be sanitized and sterilized making it ideal for longer-term use when indicated. Other devices must be disposed after one or two uses and/or are destroyed or damaged during sterilization.

Instructions for Finger-feeding (© Aidan & Éva, LLC)


  1. Position yourself and baby in a proper feeding position such as that shown in the photo. Placing a pillow under baby will make feeding more comfortable for both of you by raising the baby to chest height.
  2. Young babies tend to orient to the right so holding the baby with your left hand and finger-feeding with your right can capitalize on this tendency. However, you may use whichever side you and your baby feel most comfortable using.
  3. Keep your shoulders and elbows down and relaxed to reduce muscle strain. Support yourself with extra pillows if needed to achieve this goal.
  4. Gently tickle your baby’s lower lip in the middle, in an up and down direction to elicit both the rooting and tongue extrusion reflexes. Keep tickling, just as you would with the breast or bottle, until the baby opens as wide as he or she can.
  5. When you see the “gape”, gently insert your finger, pad up, against the hard palate near the upper gumline. The baby will bring up his or her tongue to create a seal around your finger. If your baby is still tongue-tied or is weak, he or she may not do this well. Eventually, this ability will improve.
  6. As the baby starts the sucking sequence, move your finger back to near the hard and soft palate juncture where the breast nipple would go if the baby were at breast. While moving your finger back, keep your finger pad in gentle contact with the hard palate. If your finger drops down on the tongue, your baby may gag.
  7. Once you have reached the appropriate “landmark,” keep your finger in the same position and stationary unless your therapist directs you to perform certain movements.
  8. There is usually no need to squeeze the bulb unless your baby needs a therapeutic reminder or is so weak that he or she needs a little extra help. Allow the baby to set the pace. He or she will do best synchronizing suck, swallow and breathe if allowed to determine the right pace for that feed

HazelbakerTM FingerFeeder

by Aidan & Eva


Order your FingerFeeder


For more information, please call us at
614-451-1154

Contact Us


© 2009 Aidan & Eva Contact Us