Bottle Feeding Your Breastfed Baby
May 01, 2019
The Benefits of Paced Bottle Feeding:
- It preserves the breastfeeding relationship as much as possible.
- It minimizes the incidence of flow preference (often confused with nipple confusion). Usually the baby learns the flow of the bottle is much easier than the breast and thus, prefers this method of feeding more.
- It limits overfeeding; something that is common in bottle-feeding but is not likely in breastfeeding.
- Limits spit-up, reflux, and hiccups!
Whether the mother or other caregivers is offering a bottle, it should be an active process and communication between baby and caregiver. Bottles should never be propped and baby should always be held in arms when bottle feeding. Please encourage your partner and other care providers about this technique. You can show them this helpful video that was created by our colleague: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuZXD1hIW8Q
The Basics of Paced Bottle Feeding:
- Your baby should be held in an upright position. Preferably with one cheek against your chest/breast, but side lying facing outward on your lap can also work well for a baby who is ready for a nap.
- Now comes the fun part--you need to stimulate your baby to latch onto the bottle. Touch the bottle nipple tip to your baby's upper lip, then stroke the nipple across the upper and lower lips repeatedly to stimulate the gape reflex to open wide. Right when your baby opens wide, insert the nipple into their mouth, with the nipple aimed at their palate (roof of the mouth). This stimulates the suckle reflex. Doing this is a critical part of ensuring your baby is ready to feed and that feeding is safe, respectful, and loving. Like breastfeeding, bottle feeding is a time of connection and communication between your baby and you. Making lots of eye contact and honoring your baby's hunger cues is critical.
- Once your baby is latched on to the nipple, wait to allow any milk into the bottle nipple--keep the bottle tilted down. Let your baby take 10-20 sucks without milk. Don't worry--they won't swallow any air! You can do a simple test yourself to see why your baby won't swallow any air. Open your mouth and take a big gulp of air into your mouth. Now try and swallow. Did you swallow any air? Nope!
- Much like the breast, we want your baby to use their oral muscles (especially the tongue!) to work for the milk. That is why is really important to keep your baby upright and the bottle horizontal. Once your baby has had 10-20 sucks at the bottle, gently tilt the bottle upward so there is milk in the nipple. The nipple does not need to be full. Remember, you are keeping the bottle held horizontally and we only need to allow enough milk into the bottle nipple to cover the hole at the tip of the nipple. Unless the bottle has been assembled incorrectly, no milk will come out of the sides of the nipple so we do not need milk in that part of the nipple.
- For the duration of the feeding, you will tune in and observe your baby's cues. After about 30 sucks, your baby will take a natural pause. When this happens, you will tilt the bottle down so that there is no milk in the nipple.
- Once your baby resumes sucking, wait 2-5 sucks then tilt the bottle upward again to allow them to drink milk. Remember not to fill the entire nipple and to keep the bottle parallel to the ground as much as possible.
- With paced bottle feeding, 1 ounce of milk should take 8-10 minutes for your baby to drink. You may burp your baby after every ounce if you suspect they are swallowing air.
We also would love to state that not all bottles are equal and are specific to baby’s oral anatomy and function. Please set up an appointment with us to see which bottle is most recommended for your baby’s needs. Click here to set up a session to discover which bottle is best for your baby!