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Many parents choose to feed their baby expressed breast milk by a bottle for a variety of reasons, be those personal or social commitments, illness or simply returning to work. Most breastfeeding experts advise waiting until your breastfeeding is fully established between 6-8 weeks after birth before introducing a bottle.
If you’re returning to work you will need to start introducing a bottle at least 2 weeks before you resume working to give both of you time to adjust to your new feeding routine.
Bottle-feeding requires slightly different techniques to feeding at the breast, so it may take your baby some time to get used to the change. The most important decision will be selecting a suitable teat.
Choose a teat, which is soft to enable your baby to use a natural sucking action, similar to when feeding at the breast. The MAM Silk Teat, which has a 94% baby acceptance rate, is perfect for this purpose. This will make switching between breast and bottle much easier.
You can also try the tips below for a smooth breastfeeding to bottle-feeding transition:
- Offer your baby a bottle in the evening after their regular feeding to get them used to the teat. Start with a small amount of breast milk – about half an ounce.
- Try a slow-flow teat. For some babies, especially young babies, a medium flow teat may flood them with milk. If your baby gags when bottle feeding, replace their teat with a slow-flow one to see if that helps.
- Let someone else feed them the first bottle.If you try to give your baby their first bottle, they may wonder why they are not getting your breast. Your little one may be less confused if someone else makes the introduction. Ask your mother, your partner or a friend to help.
- Try to be out of the house. A baby can smell their mother, even from a distance, so they may know that you (and your breasts) are just in the next room.
Some babies take to bottle-feeding without much fuss, but others struggle quite a bit with the transition. If your baby is having a hard time, try the techniques below:
- Use a bottle teat with a similar texture to their soother. If they suck on a silicone soother, use a silicone bottle teat. All MAM Soothers are made with same soft silicone as the teat. Warm the teat with water to make it feel more appealing.
- Put some breast milk on the teat. When your baby tastes it, they may start sucking to get more.
- Let your baby play with the teat so they can familiarize themselves with it. If your little one just chews on it, let them for now. They may actually start sucking on it soon.
- Hold your baby in a different position: Put them in a car seat so they are semi-upright, and then feed them the bottle while facing them. Or try feeding your baby on your lap with their back to your chest. Once they are used to taking a bottle, you can hold them as you usually would for feedings.
- Try different temperatures. It could be your baby prefers their milk slightly warmer or colder than you’ve been giving it to them. Experiment with different temperatures to see what they prefer. You might also see if there’s a difference between giving fresh milk or milk that’s been frozen.
- Offer the bottle at other times of day. If your baby won’t take the bottle during the day, try offering it during a nighttime feed or vice versa.
Your baby needs time to get used to new sensations, so stick with the same teat, bottle, and feeding technique for a while before trying something new. Constantly changing the feeding position or switching to new teats may just end up confusing (and frustrating) your baby.
Make sure you have lots of time to take it slow during this process. If your baby starts crying and pushes the bottle away, back off, comfort them, and then try again. If you’ve tried offering the bottle and your baby has refused three times, let it go for now. (Wait at least five minutes before breastfeeding – that way they won’t associate refusing the bottle with immediate gratification.) Offer the bottle again in an hour or two, when your baby is alert and receptive but not frantically hungry.
You can get a free* sample MAM anti colic bottle and soother on the MAM online shop by using the code: TRYMEFREE
*This excludes P&P
Posted in: Feeding