Bottle Feeding a Breastfed Baby

Okay, a lot of us know breast is best, sure.  But I also know that an exclusively breastfed baby is a pain in the f#@%$ ass!  I’m still traumatized by memories of babysitting my nephew, Jake.  I love him like crazy, but I can now understand the urge some babysitters get just to lock the baby in a closet until the parents come back. ( Don’t get angry, I’ve never done that!)  He cried.  For hours.  Because his mother’s breasts were not in the immediate area.  Nothing would stop the crying, he wanted those breasts and would take nothing as a substitute.

I swore right then and there that I would never ever breastfeed exclusively.  It’s hell for other people.  Also my sister, who breastfed for all the sweetest reasons, could not escape her child for the span of a dinner out!

So when can I start switching between breast and bottle?

The directions on my soon-to-be-born child’s pacifiers state that I should not use it in my baby’s mouth until he/she is four weeks old.  So probably I shouldn’t start on the bottle before then though I’m sure it has more to do with encouraging proper feeding and latching.

Here is a handy list of bottle feeding tips.

Babies should be bottle-fed:

  1. When their cues indicate hunger, rather than on a schedule.
  2. Held in an upright position; it is especially important to avoid letting the baby drink from a bottle when lying down. Such a position is associated with bottle caries and an increased frequency of ear infections.
    Note also that babies should often be held at times when they are not being fed, to avoid the baby being trained to eat in order to be held.
  3. With a switch from one side to the other side midway through a feed; this provides for eye stimulation and development and thwarts the development of a side preference which could impact the breastfeeding mother.
  4. For 10-20 minutes at a time, to mimic the usual breastfeeding experience. Care providers should be encouraged to make appropriate quantities last the average length of a feeding, rather than trying to feed as much as they can in as short a time as possible. This time element is significant because the infant’s system needs time to recognize satiety, long before the stomach has a chance to get over-filled.
  5. Gently, allowing the infant to draw the nipple into the mouth rather than pushing the nipple into the infant’s mouth so that baby controls when the feed begins. Stroke baby’s lips from top to bottom with the nipple to illicit a rooting response of a wide open mouth, and then allow the baby to “accept” the nipple rather than poking it in.
  6. Consistent with a breastfed rhythm; the caregiver should encourage frequent pauses while the baby drinks from the bottle to mimic the breastfeeding mother’s let-down patterns. This discourages the baby from guzzling the bottle and can mitigate nipple confusion or preference.

To satiation, so that baby is not aggressively encouraged to finish the last bit of milk in the bottle by such measures as forcing the nipple into the mouth, massaging the infant’s jaw or throat, or rattling the nipple around in the infant’s mouth. If baby is drowsing off and releasing the bottle nipple before the bottle is empty that means baby is done; don’t reawaken the baby to “finish.”

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