When To Introduce A Bottle To A Breastfed Baby

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If you’re breastfeeding, chances are you’re going to eventually introduce the bottle at some point or another to your baby. Not everyone is fortunate enough or has the flexibility and patience to be able to consistently breastfeed for as long they want.

When you’re looking to introduce the bottle to your baby, you should first ask why? Is it your lifestyle, work schedule or just the troubles of breastfeeding itself.

If you anticipate you’ll have a busy schedule and regularly are going to be away from your baby for quite some time, then this may be the reason to get ahead of starting your baby on the bottle to get him used to it.

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If you’re a stay-at-home mom and just want to incorporate more bottle feedings for convenience, you should consider waiting about a month to a month and a half before considering introducing the bottle. Of course it can take a little longer for some babies to “get” breastfeeding.

Remember that the way a baby sucks milk from a breast is quite different from the way they draw milk from a baby bottle. 

Bottle Feeding After Going Back To Work

One of the major reasons parents introduce the bottle is to supplement their baby with breastmilk when they’re at work. It can be difficult at first to get your baby used to the transition, so it’s important to get him used to the bottle at least 2 – 3 weeks in advance so by the time you’re back at work you won’t struggle with his feedings.

Most of the time you’ll know when you’re headed back to work after maternity leave, but if you’re not sure when you’ll return, get your baby to get used to breastfeeding for one month or so and then introduce the bottle so you’re well prepared for whenever work starts back up.

  • Introduce your caregiver so that your baby can get familiar with their face and voice
  • Leave your baby with the caregiver for periods of time to get your baby used to being alone with them before you start your job
  • Allow the caregiver to try out a feeding schedule you agree upon so you and baby are prepared for whats to come

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For breastfeeding babies, they will always choose a breast over a bottle. If you can help it, try to feed with your breast rather than a bottle because it’s the most optimal option for your baby, nutritionally and emotionally speaking.

The baby will feel much more comfortable snuggled up feeding from you while making skin to skin contact rather than a bottle from a caregiver.

How To Get Your Breastfed Baby Used To A Bottle

If your baby doesn’t take to the bottle right away, there’s no reason to worry. It may take some getting used to at first since it may not feel as comforting as the breast. Also, bottles can flow at a much different rate than your breast which can cause confusion and fussiness.

Signs of a good baby latch

Some other reasons for not taking the bottle is the shape, softness, and the flow of the nipple. Many nipples are shaped in a way that may feel uncomfortable for baby to latch.

Type Of Nipple To Use For A Breastfed Baby

Two types of nipples that you can try that are from each other are  Dr. Browns and Avent. The shapes on both of them are different and you’ll have to try to see which one works best. You don’t have to wash and sterilize all of the bottles. Just wash one from each set with the different nipples to see what the best option is for you.

GUEST_ddf832ee-bf79-4751-b0c8-cc8e63158d56From my experience, the Avent nipples work better since the nipple is a wider fuller shape and has a wider base, like a full breast. Once you figure out which ones they prefer, you may still have days where your baby is fussy but you must stick with it to get them used to it.

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You want to start with an ounce or two for the first time with the bottle to see how your baby does. If he doesn’t take to it, try again during another feeding.

When it comes to the flow of the milk, you want to start off with a “stage 1” nipple that has a slower flow rate so that your baby doesn’t choke from the milk coming out too fast. This is one of the big reasons a baby won’t like the bottle because of the flow is inconsistent with what they’re used to. If your baby seems to be frustrated by the slow flow, then you can move on to “stage 2” or one that has a faster flow.

Your baby will often prefer the type of bottle that delivers the milk at the same rate as they get the milk from your breast, which is often easier to get milk from.

Set A Schedule And Remove Confusion

Babies are quite fast learners and they also like routine. If you try to do too many things at once they will get confused and you won’t know what issues you must fix.

Create a schedule that you can refer to daily. Once you determine the proper wake up time for your baby, stick with it. As soon as your baby wakes, here is the routine you should consider following throughout the day:

  1. Take 30 min to fully feed your baby as soon as he wakes up. They are usually well rested and relaxed and best of all hungry enough that they will take to the bottle.
  2. Follow up with wake-time for another 30min to 1hr where he can play and do activities.
  3. Put your baby down for a nap for 30min to 2hrs when you see he’s drowsy but not completely out. You shouldn’t feed your baby prior to his nap.
  4. Repeat the first 3 steps until you get home for a feeding from your breast.

If you do this consistently, your baby will get used to the bottle and your breast as a source of his milk supply.

Consider letting your caregiver offer the first time bottle feeding, so that he associates them with the bottle and you with your breast, eliminating any confusion this can cause. If you still want to be the one to offer the bottle, then try it with skin to skin to encourage a smoother transition.

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Remember, you’re baby may fight with you for a while before taking to the right kind of nipple. It helps to cut down on this time if you find the right shape, softness and flow of the bottle which resembles your own nipple as much as possible.

Consistency Is Key For Bottle Feeding Your Baby

Once you get the right kind of bottle figured out, you can go ahead and feed your baby entirely by bottle until he is full. While some babies will have to go back and forth, many will take to the bottle completely once they are comfortable.

Make it a point to stick to the bottle as often as you can and carry on with the routine as consistently as possible so that you don’t have to retrain your baby all over again.
Top tricks to get your breastfeeding baby to take a bottle.

Remember that every baby is different and you’ll have to figure out the little nuances of your baby to introduce the bottle for the first time. It will take a little bit of patience and flexibility but if you keep at it you’ll be well on your way to a happy baby breastfed or bottle fed.

The Best Bottles for a Breastfed Baby

Aside from the ones I recommended earlier, which was the Dr. Browns and Avent, below are some more you can try if you’re still having some trouble.

Most bottles come with a standard size nipple and most likely will not work for your baby. This is because they usually make them narrow and thin which prevent your baby from latching on.

Below are some of the wide-mouthed nipples that will help to create a more comfortable latch and offer a flow that’s right for your baby.

1 – Comotomo Baby BottleBest Bottles for a Breastfed BabyThese baby bottles are shaped nicely to resemble a real nipple and breast. The feeling of the silicone is very real and makes the baby take to it easier. A great plus is that the bottle prevents leakage and offers vents to keep air from building up in your baby’s stomach.

You can learn more about the Comotomo baby bottle and buy it here!

2 – Mimijumi

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This bottle has one of the widest nipples available on the market and is very easy to clean. The angled design helps to mimic real life breastfeeding and allows your baby to control the flow of the milk.

The natural nipple shape and ventilation system help for a secure latch allowing for less air to be sucked in.

Read more about the Mimijumi Bottle and see where to buy them, here!

3 – Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature

bottle-tommee-tippee-1024x1024.jpgThis bottle resembles the breast the closest with the wide neck and nipples to go with it and also has ventilation to reduce air from going down into your baby’s stomach.

If you’re having a lot of trouble with bottle feeding, this bottle could be what you’re looking for.

Read more about the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature and where to buy them, here!

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