Health experts are warning mums of a modern-day habit dubbed "brexting" with fears it may damage crucial bonding with their newborns.

The term brexting describes the action of texting while breastfeeding.

Kiwi clinical psychologist - and author of Smart Mothering - Dr Natalie Flynn said her concern was that brexting could stop mums from doing things conducive to bonding like eye contact, stroking and mutual gaze.

"I would advise mums to use breastfeeding, if they can, as a time to engage with their babies in a meaningful way.


"If you are texting to the point it's not happening then I'd advise them to put their phone down."

Breastfeeding isn't free: Here's how much it really costs
Auckland mum clashes with indoor playground staff over breastfeeding debacle
Breastfeeding ban confirmed for Wellington City Council pools
Instagram mum causes controversy with video of herself breastfeeding while driving

She said this was important to secure an attachment where the baby feels secure in knowing that when they cue their mum she will respond appropriately.

"Feeding time is a perfect opportunity for that."

Her comments echoed that of Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Harry Nespolon who told Brisbane's Courier Mail: "When a breastfeeding mum focuses on the phone... it can disrupt an important developmental process that relies on baby seeing and responding to mum's face."

He said taking care of very young children means that you could be very socially isolated and it would be very difficult to get out.

"But breastfeeding time is not the time to catch up with Facebook".

A 1970s study by Harvard Medical School, known as the Still Face experiment, found that babies got anxious when their mother's had a blank expression while breastfeeding.


Plunket's Karen Magrath told the Herald on Sunday it was important for mums to take every opportunity to be really present with their baby and that can be difficult when they are on the phone.

"Babies are great mimics. They watch and look for a response...all of what the mum is doing goes in and is part of forming the foundations for their brains.

"We know babies are little sponges but more than that their brain development depends on that interaction they have with their carers.

"That development over the first three years forms the foundation for their lives."

Auckland paediatrician Dr Maneesh Deva took a different view saying that these mums were probably on their phone for the reasons he encouraged which was to build support networks.

"There is a high amount of mums who suffer from postnatal depression and forming support networks were vital to help prevent that.


"I can certainly see from my practice they are doing it for reasons that we encourage and that is to socialise and form communities."