Kate Tuttle, BS, IBCLC

Introducing Bottles To Your Breastfed Baby

It is safe to assume that at some point, every breastfed baby will be introduced to a bottle, even if it is only a one time occurrence. Bottles are introduced for a variety of reasons but the most common reasons are when a mother is separated from her baby or the baby will not latch to feed at the breast directly. Being separated from your baby can include any event such as returning to work or school after birth or taking a 2 hour trip to the hair salon. 

Introducing bottles to the breastfed baby.

What is paced bottle feeding?

Paced bottle feeding is a method of feeding with a bottle that best mimics a feed at the breast. Typically, when babies are bottle fed, they are flat on their backs and the bottle is propped up in a vertical position. Even with a slow flow nipple, babies are not able to control how quickly they are intaking milk. Pacing the feeds helps babies to eat slower and are not as likely to be overeating/taking too much in too quickly. Feeds at the breast are regulated by the baby so mimicking that when offering a bottle will help to allow the baby to eat slowly like they do at the breast.

Introducing bottles to the breastfed baby and paced bottle feeding.

How do I do it?

Paced bottle feeding has the baby sitting slightly elevated and upright with the bottle parallel to the floor (horizontally). Follow the baby’s lead and give breaks as needed during the feed. For a visual example, check out the video below on how to pace bottle feed from Milk Mob Media.

So what is the benefit of pacing the baby’s feed?

Pacing the baby’s feed will help decrease the chances of nipple confusion or flow preference while the baby is separated from their mom. This will make the transition from bottle to breast a smooth one and minimize stress on the separated mom and baby. Pacing the baby’s feeds allows the baby to be in control of the feed. At the breast, they suck to encourage milk flow. When given a bottle, the flow continues whether they are hungry or not. This can lead to a forced feed situation which can result in overeating or eating too quickly and causing a bellyache. This article from the Minnesota Department of Health explains that babies are less likely to overfed, which means you are less likely to not have enough milk for your baby when pumping. You will likely feel much more relaxed about your pump outputs this way.

Paced bottle feeding and introducing bottles to the breastfed baby.

It is important to note that every baby benefits from paced bottle feeding. Whether you are giving infant formula or breast milk in a bottle, your baby will be more content when they are in charge of their feeds and not being overfed. For any formula questions, consult with your Pediatrician. 

Leaving the baby for the first time can be an overwhelming experience for everyone involved. Don’t let the stress of overfeeding or baby preferring bottles add to that stress. You’ve got this and we’ve got you. 

Pacing bottle feeding and introducing bottles to a breastfed baby.
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