How to Use a Syringe to Feed Newborn

Most babies are born with the natural ability to obtain milk from the breast. Premature delivery as well as certain medical conditions including Down syndrome, jaundice, cardiac defects and a cleft palate may interfere with the baby's ability to suckle. There are alternative ways to feed a baby so he gets enough milk. Feeding a baby with a syringe is recommended by the Lactation Institute for babies who are unable to breastfeed on their own. Talk with your doctor before using any alternative feeding method to make sure it is appropriate for your baby.

Fill a feeding syringe with breast milk or formula.

Place the baby on your lap and hold him upright.

Place the tip of the syringe into the baby's mouth. Once she's latched on, press the plunger down slowly to give the baby milk once she starts to suck.

Contact your baby's doctor or a certified lactation consultant if you experience any difficulty or if you need support or assistance while using the syringe feeding method.


A feeding syringe may be used as a supplement to breast feeding. It may also be used for older babies who refuse to use a bottle.


If using the feeding syringe to supplement breastfeeding, ask your pediatrician when to start decreasing the amount of supplemental feeding.