Breast Feeding Help  - Finger and Cup Feeding: A Comprehensive Guide 

Navigating the world of infant feeding, finger and cup feeding emerge as invaluable techniques for infants struggling with the traditional breast or bottle latch. Finger feeding uses a feeding tube for milk delivery while the infant suckles on a caregiver's finger. Conversely, cup feeding entails giving milk through a small medicine cup or a similar device, ideal for infants unable to engage in traditional feeding methods or in emergency situations.

Understanding Finger and Cup Feeding

Finger and cup feeding stand as alternate nourishment methods for infants unable to breastfeed or bottle-feed. These techniques become pivotal when a baby is premature, has a weak suck, or faces latching challenges.

  • Finger Feeding: This method involves a feeding tube alongside a finger to guide milk into the baby's mouth. It's a lactation aid and a temporary feeding solution, requiring guidance from healthcare professionals or lactation consultants.
  • Cup Feeding: This method uses a small cup for feeding. The baby laps up milk from the cup, making it an alternative to bottle feeding and aiding in proper latch maintenance. Practice and patience are key, along with proper guidance.

The Pros and Cons of Finger and Cup Feeding

While both methods offer benefits, such as aiding latch difficulties or preventing nipple confusion, they also present challenges. Finger feeding requires skill to avoid choking risks, and cup feeding can be messy and time-consuming. Both methods might lead to a preference that complicates transitioning between feeding techniques.

Practical Tips for Finger and Cup Feeding

To facilitate these feeding methods, here are some tips:

  • For finger feeding, ensure correct baby positioning, wait for suckling before introducing milk, and use the tube until feeding concludes.
  • For cup feeding, use a small cup, hold it at the right angle, and allow the baby to lap at their own pace.
  • For supplementing at the breast, use a supplemental nursing system (SNS) and allow the baby to feed at their pace.

Role of Healthcare Professionals in Finger and Cup Feeding

Healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, are crucial in guiding parents through finger and cup feeding, especially for premature infants. They provide necessary training, monitor progress, and offer feedback and support throughout the process.

Transitioning from Finger and Cup Feeding

As infants grow, transitioning from finger and cup feeding to solid foods is a significant developmental milestone. This transition should be gradual, attentive to the baby's cues, and continue to focus on nutritious offerings.

Questions? Email Jack Newman at, or Edith Kernerman at or consult: Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA) or our DVD, Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding; or The Latch Book and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; or L-eat Latch & Transfer Tool, or the GamePlan for Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in the First 24 Hours of Life and Beyond.  See our website at  To make an appointment email and respond to the auto reply or call 416-498-0002. 

Handout. Finger and Cup Feeding, Revised May 2008
Written and Revised by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC 1995-2005
Revised by Edith Kernerman, IBCLC, and Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC © 2008


 This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission,
on the condition that  it is not used in any context that violates
the International WHO Code on The Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


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