© squirrelrehabilitation.com, 2011 The Basics How to Feed How Much to Feed Babies should be fed 5% of their body weight per feeding.  A comfortable maximum stomach capacity is between five and seven percent of body weight (NWRA Principles).  Depending on the age of the baby, it will need to be fed anywhere from every two and a half hours to every four hours (see “Next/Feeding Chart below).  As the baby begins weaning, the time intervals will increase.  Determining five percent of the baby’s body weight is fairly simple:         Weight (in grams) / 2 /10  (e.g. 60 grams / 2 = 30;   Then 30 / 10 = 3ccs) Or you can use this calculation:  Weight (in grams) / 20 (e.g. 35 grams / 20 = 1.75 ccs) Introducing Formula NEVER start a baby squirrel on full-strength formula of any kind.  Formula is not mother’s milk, and it will take the baby’s body time to adjust.  Feeding it full strength formula can send its system into shock and cause bloating (a serious condition) or diarrhea (another serious condition).  Once the baby is hydrated, introduce formula as follows: 1/4 strength formula four two to four feedings 1/2 strength formula for two to four feedings 3/4 strength formula for two to four feedings Full strength formula. IF AT ANY TIME THE BABY APPEARS BLOATED OR DEVELOPS DIARRHEA, STOP THE FORMULA IMMEDIATELY AND GO BACK TO REHYDRATION FLUID OR SUGAR WATER (THREE TEASPOONS IN A QUART OF BOILED/STERILIZED WATER) UNTIL THE BLOAT SUBSIDES OR THE DIARRHEA IS UNDER CONTROL! BOTH CONDITIONS CAN BE FATAL! Mixing Formula When mixing ANY formula, it is essential to use level, not heaping, measuring spoons.  Most powdered formulas call for a 2 to 1 ratio--two parts water to one part formula.  If level measuring spoons are not used, the formula will be too concentrated and may cause gastrointestinal problems.  Mix the formula with hot, not boiling, water and try to allow it an hour or so before feeding so that the ingredients have time dissolve thoroughly.  Fresh formula should be mixed every 24 hours and kept refrigerated when not in use.  Some debate exists over whether or not it’s safe to microwave formula to reheat.  It’s best to use a hot water bath (placing the jar in a cup of hot water) to warm the formula, but be careful not to break the jar by placing a very cold jar into very hot water.  Stir the formula often. Positioning A baby baby should never be fed with its head back.  A baby should be fed in as closely as possible to a natural nursing position.  The angle of the nipple is less important than the position of the head, which should be horizontal or pointing slightly downward.  The objective is to hold both the baby and the syringe/nipple in a manner that will allow excess formula to drip out of the mouth and not down into the baby’s throat and/or airway.  If the head is held tilted back, even slightly, excess formula (formula that you keep supplying even though the baby may not be swallowing) will have nowhere to go but back in the baby’s throat, either choking it or, if the baby attempts to breathe through its mouth, perhaps gasping for air, aspirating it (fluid entering the lungs).  As stated before, people have actually drowned babies by not feeding in the correct position and aspirating them, and even more people have caused their babies to develop aspiration pneumonia, often resulting in death.  The links below are to videos showing babies being fed, both a ten-day-old and a newborn (”Pinkie”). Feeding Positions Holding the Syringe While there is no necessarily “correct” way to hold the syringe when feeding, if you will get used to holding it as pictured in Figure B below, you will find this method will provide you more control over the plunger, as you can wrap your index finger around the plunger shaft itself, thus preventing accidental “spurts” of formula should the plunger stick or should it come to a place where it simply slides more easily.  Being able to control the plunger becomes especially important with older babies, as their suction is powerful and you may need to hold the plunger BACK at times rather than push it in.  Feeding When you are feeding the baby, it is absolutely necessary for you to be patient and go slowly.  With very young babies (“pinkies”) feeding is often drop by drop.  You cannot hurry the process!  Older babies, once they become accustomed to the nipple, will most often eat eagerly, but don’t be tempted to increase the rate of flow too much.  In time, after a few feedings, you should be able to intuit how fast to push the plunger.  Be sure to pause every few seconds to allow the baby to swallow and breathe.   Baby squirrels have different eating “styles”  Some will lap at only the tip of the nipple, some will be “fussy” eaters and continually turn their heads away from the nipple (but be persistent), some will take almost the entire nipple into their mouths and gulp ravenously. Basically, you have to “read” the baby and adjust to its needs and style.   Problems Aspiration If while feeding the baby you see formula coming out of its nose and/or the baby jerks its head suddenly upwards, away from the nipple, begins to struggle, and appears to be gasping, you have probably aspirated it.  STOP FEEDING IMMEDIATELY!   Hold the baby with its head pointing downwards and dab up any milk coming from its nose.  You might also (holding the baby securely) swing it gently back and forth, allowing the centrifugal force to help eliminate the formula (This is NOT recommended for babies who are bruised on the head or face from a fall).  Most often even the smallest babies in a second or two will begin to sneeze the formula out.  Give it plenty of time to do so before attempting to resume feeding.  DO NOT attempt to resume feeding until it is absolutely certain that the baby is once again breathing freely through its nose (mouth closed) and is no longer in distress. Refusal to Eat If a baby refuses formula, and it is certain the the baby is well hydrated, consider the following: 1. The formula is fresh/unspoiled. 2. The formula is warm enough but not hot. 3. The baby is able to digest/tolerate (see below) the formula (If possible, see     if the milk line has shrunken since the last feeding) and/or enough time has     elapsed since the last feeding  (click “Next/Feeding Chart” below). 4. The baby does not appear bloated (belly tight and distended).  If it does,     stop formula and give rehydration fluids or sugar water (see above) until     the bloat subsides. 5. The baby is urinating and defecating adequately upon stimulation      (see “Stimulation” link under “Infants/Found Babies” or click here:   If all of the above seem in order, there is a possibility that the baby is ill, either with a disease or internal parasites.  Please attempt to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or a veterinarian who will examine it. Temperature Formula should be warm to the touch but not hot.  If you can’t hold the container to your lips, it’s too hot.  NEVER feed a baby cold formula. Evidence of a Job Well Done:  The Milk Line With young babies who have no fur or who are only slightly furred, after feeding you will be able to see the “milk line” as pictured below.   Stimulating the Baby Before or after each feeding (some do both), a baby MUST be stimulated to urinate and defecate.  Not doing so can have disastrous effects on the baby’s health.  The page after the next page containing the “Feeding Chart” discusses stimulating in detail.  You can click this link to see a video on stimulating a baby squirrel.  Please watch the entire video as it has information on diseases and disorders presented throughout.  .   Unable to Tolerate Formula/Possible Allergy Just as with human babies, some squirrel babies are unable to tolerate the cow’s milk proteins that are used in most milk replacers.  Below are pictures of two squirrels who it is believed were allergic to cow’s milk proteins.  Unfortunately, the squirrel on the left died before a diagnosis could be made.  The squirrel on the right developed a similar rash of white bumps on its body.  Based on the experience with the squirrel on the left, when these white bumps began to appear, the cow’s milk based formula was immediately stopped, the baby’s system flushed with Pedialyte, and Goat’s Milk Esbilac introduced.  This baby survived and was eventually released.  Milk Line Feeding Video Feeding a Pinkie (Newborn) Video