As a new parent, you’ll always have questions about what’s best for your baby. From managing successful breastfeeding to deciding when it’s best to introduce a bottle to your baby, it can be challenging to find what’s right for your family. We’re here to help.
When should you introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby?
Most health experts recommend introducing a bottle once breastfeeding is well-established, usually after eight weeks. This gives you time to establish your milk supply and for baby to develop the sucking skills needed for breastfeeding. When you choose to introduce a bottle, it is important to choose a slow-flowing nipple in order to minimise the chance of nipple confusion, or bottle preference. Every feeding journey is different and we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider before making any changes.
How do you introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby?
First and foremost, be patient while you both adjust to this change. Don’t despair if your baby initially resists an artificial nipple, and take your time.
Make the change gradually – Introducing a bottle is an adjustment, both from a logistical and emotional standpoint. Try to plan ahead by hand-expressing or pumping after one feeding a day, when your breasts still feel a little full. Freeze “leftover” milk in batches, and once you have pumped enough for a typical feeding plus a little more, you can introduce a bottle.
Continue breastfeeding – It is important to continue breastfeeding, if you can, in order to maintain your own milk supply. Once your baby is taking bottles, try to maintain a combined schedule of bottle and breastfeeding.
Nominate a support person to do the initial bottle feeds – Babies are clever! They know where their milk should come from. It may be helpful to enlist your partner or other caregiver to give baby their bottle. This will also give you a short break to get some fresh air or have a shower.
What to do if your baby is refusing the bottle
You may need to try quite a few times before your baby feels comfortable with the bottle. Start out with small portions and ensure that baby is alert but not hungry. If you are having trouble, allow yourself to take a break and try again later. Sometimes it helps if your partner or another caregiver tries bottle feeding your baby initially. Seek professional help as needed.
Every baby’s feeding journey is unique, and every family’s life rhythms and needs are unique too. Introducing a bottle can be a stressful and emotional experience, but it can also afford you a new sense of freedom and flexibility. Importantly, when done correctly, it can help you prolong breastfeeding. Be kind to yourself, and remember that you are doing your best for your baby. It’s ok if that takes some time.
Remember that not all bottles are created equal, and some are designed with breastfed babies in mind. With Emulait’s bottle, designed to mimic the breastfeeding experience, you might find that introducing a bottle is easier than you expected. Learn more about Emulait and get ready to purchase your own Starter Kit today!
Don’t forget to consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your feeding journey or if it is impacting your mental health. Join our online community for more tips and support.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provided for any medical advice, diagnoses, treatment, or health objectives.