How to bottle feed a breastfed baby

Whether you are supplementing breast milk, you can’t breastfeed for an extended period, your baby is lip or tongue tied, you are returning to work or you just need a night out you may have to get your baby feeding from a bottle.

With my second son I learnt A LOT! What I thought would be smooth sailing turned out to be a nightmare.

The good thing is I learnt some top tips that I used with my subsequent children and that I would like to share with you.

When you decide to transition to the bottle there are a few things that you will need to take into account.

If you are planning to mix breastfeeding with bottle-feeding then there are a few more precautions that need to be taken into account and I will go through them.

So here is my complete guide to bottle feeding a breastfed baby.


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My struggle with finding the correct Bottle

We had an awful time transitioning my son from breast to a bottle.

We went through at least 8 different types of bottles before we found the perfect one.

I feel that the mistake that I made with my son was that I left introducing a bottle far too late. If we had introduced him at 4-6 weeks then the transition may have been much easier.

Refrain from buying large boxes of bottles until you are absolutely certain that it’s the bottle your baby prefers. I wasted A LOT of money on bottles that were unused.

Once we had established which bottle was the one for him, we followed these tips:

1. Feed the baby when they show hunger cues. Just the same way that you would feed your breastfed baby on demand the same goes for bottle feeding.

2. Start with a slow flow nipple. Babies have to work hard to pull milk from the breast so its best to use a slow flow teat as it will be more similar to the way they have fed from the breast.

3. Start with a small amount of breast milk.

If your baby doesn’t take the milk from the bottle then it would be a waste of your precious milk and all the effort of pumping, storing, thawing and sterilizing.

Use a small amount until the baby is drinking well from the bottle.

4. Feed the baby in an upright position.

Laying the baby down has been known to be associated with tooth decay (1).

It has also been associated with an increase in the frequency of ear infections that a child may have (2).

So, for this reason its vital that you hold the baby at a 45 degree angle.

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Hold your baby at times when they are not being fed. This reduces the baby being trained to believe that feeding equals being held.

5. Switch sides halfway through a feed. A switching of sides midway through a feed can help prevent side preference in breast fed children.

It also provides eye stimulation and helps the baby’s development.

6. Make bottle feeds last as long as a breastfeeding session. Between 10 and 20 minutes at a time try and mimic your normal breastfeeding session.

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Use a slow teat and let the baby feel satiety before the small tummy has a chance to become overfilled.

It is very easy to overfeed a breastfed baby through a bottle as they can drink quickly and not realize they are full.

7. Allowing the baby to take the nipple in themselves.

Allow the baby to draw the nipple in themselves rather then forcing it into the baby’s mouth.

The baby will in this way be totally in control of when the feed begins.

In the same way that you encourage the baby to feed at the breast by rubbing your nipple on his mouth until he opens wide is what you would do with the bottle.

8. Taking small breaks in between feedings.
This can mimic a mom’s natural let down and give the baby a little time to feel full.

9. Not overfeeding the baby.
Feeding the baby until they are satisfied and not trying to force him to finish the bottle.

If the baby has fallen asleep while feeding then don’t wake the baby to wake up to finish the feed.

FEEDING USING THESE TIPS WILL:

Ensure the baby is consuming the right amount of food for their age and size. It will stop the baby being overfed or underfed.

It will support the mom who is pumping to produce the amount that is correct for her baby

It can help reduce colic which is sometimes associated with being overfed

Switching sides and using a slow bottle teat mean that the mother and baby can have a much longer and enjoyable breast-feeding experience without encountering confusion.

IF YOUR BABY ABSOLUTELY REFUSES TO TAKE A BOTTLE TRY THESE TOP TIPS:

1.Try different bottles and teats.
2. Try warming the teat before you feed the baby; make sure you check the temperature on the back of your wrist.
3. Try and ask someone else to feel the baby while they are transitioning and adjusting to the new way of feeding, the baby can probably smell you and your milk.
4. Give the bottle at the beginning of a feed when the baby is most hungry.
5. Try distracting the baby.
6. Dip the nipple in the breast milk.
7. Go straight to a Sippy cup
8. Introduce the bottle when the baby isn’t fully awake.
9. Don’t wait until the baby is starving to introduce the bottle.
10. Check the temperature of the milk and make sure it’s warm enough; breastmilk is 98.6F or 37 C
11. Some babies prefer milk cooler or at room temp.
12. You can use a cup, spoon or medicine dropper.
13. Try a nipple shield to make the transition to a teat.
14. Keep trying

TEATS TO AVOID

Avoid these features of teats when you are choosing a bottle and teat for your breastfed baby:
1.Rigid
2.Very wide base
3. Very narrow base
4. Leak easily
5. Fast flow

These are the bottles that I found worked the best for my baby’s

MAM Baby bottles

Comotomo natural feel baby bottle

Lasinoh momma breastmilk feeding bottle

Nanobebe breastmilk baby bottle

Tommee tippee closer to nature

My second son was the most difficult to transition to the bottle, but we got there in the end. I kept persisting and wouldn’t give up until he was able to feed happily from the bottle.

One thing I definitely implemented for my subsequent 3 children was introducing the bottle much earlier at around 4 weeks old so that we didn’t have the same issues again.

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