The browser you are using is too old for our website. Please visit from Chrome and you will be able to browse normally.

Feeding my preterm baby during COVID-19


Feeding my preterm baby during COVID-19

During the coronavirus outbreak you may have a lot of questions about safely breast feeding your preterm baby. This is a stressful time and no doubt you want to keep your infant as safe as possible while ensuring they get the nutrition and love they need to thrive. Here are some helpful facts, tips and considerations given by UNICEF to keep your baby safe while feeding.


Looking for support, not judgement?

We'll give you the reassurance you need to parent your way.

If you have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care early and follow instructions from your health care professional.

Benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks

  1. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for all infants and has further benefits for preterm babies. During the COVID-19 outbreak, UNICEF suggests that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks. Preterm babies can be more vulnerable as their immune system is still developing. However, breast milk contains a range of components which support the immune system, reducing your baby’s risk of developing infectious diseases. The composition helps destroy harmful pathogens while boosting immunity. In addition, it can support the gut of preterm infants, aiding it to develop and mature.
  2. Skin-to-skin contact is important in supporting your preterm baby’s need for emotional connection.  It promotes healthy development and contributes to the wellbeing of both mother and child during the postnatal period. UNICEF recognises the profound benefits of this and recommend that mothers and babies stay together as much as possible while taking the necessary precautions.
  3. If you are unable to breastfeed while on the neonatal unit, you may want to consider the use of donor milk if available. Speak to your health care professional about whether this option may be appropriate for your baby.  

How to feed your preterm baby safely during the COVID-19 outbreak

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is transmitted through breast milk. However, just like everyone else, the infection can be spread through contact with respiratory droplets of an infected individual.

If you are feeding your baby formula, make sure you sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles with anyone else. Always prepare formula feeds in line with the manufacturer's instructions. Use the right amount of formula and water and follow the directions on pack carefully to ensure the water used is at the correct temperature.

Here are some tips that can keep your baby safe while feeding.

  1. Wash your hands before touching the baby, breast pump or bottle.
  2. Wear a mask if you have symptoms of infection to avoid breathing, coughing or sneezing on the baby.
  3. Clean and sterilise all pump and feeding equipment correctly. Guidance from the NHS on how to safely sterilise your baby’s feeding equipment can be found here:
  4. Routinely clean and disinfect all surfaces.

If you have any further questions, contact your health care professional.

Looking for support, not judgement?

We'll give you the reassurance you need to parent your way.

Join now for FREE

Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

Privacy Settings

You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy.

  • Strictly necessary

    They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

  • Analytical cookies

    They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

  • Personalisation cookies

    They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

  • Targeting cookies

    They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.