Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Philips Avent and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
When it comes to introducing a breastfed baby to a bottle, it can be tricky. The change from one feeding method to the other may not come easily- your nipple has many differences from a manufactured one, primarily in smell and feel, and if your baby has only ever had the breast, it’s altogether different from all s/he has ever known.
Sucking milk from a bottle requires different mouth and tongue movements than breastfeeding, so it may take your baby a little time to get used to the change. Don’t let that fact discourage you, though! Whether you have to go back to work or simply want another way to feed your little love, these tips are sure to help make the transition easier!
- ESTABLISH YOUR MILK SUPPLY If you know you are going to be bottle feeding, begin pumping when you’re comfortable so that you begin to have a “stash” before you need it. A good breast pump will be your best, or breast, friend, as it were.
- WAIT Most lactation experts suggest waiting until your baby is at least a month old so that breastfeeding is well established before you introduce a bottle. If you have a time-frame for needing your baby to take a bottle (you’re returning to work for instance) start bottle-feeding at least two weeks before so you both have time to adjust.
- TIMING IS EVERYTHING Try introducing a bottle an hour after a feeding, before your baby is looking to eat again, but when you first notice signs of rooting or that little tongue click- you know the one. That slight I think I’m ready to eat baby will be able to better focus on the bottle and willing to give it a whirl if the belly calls for it! Aim for the middle-of-the-day-feeding, not the first or last, as babies are pretty attached to those feedings, as us mamas are, too. A nice morning and nighttime routine of breastfeeding your baby is still totally possible! Start with a small amount of breast milk (about half an ounce) and if you’re transitioning to formula as well, talk with your doctor about different feeding amounts to introduce. Combo feeding, whether it be breast, breast milk, or formula are going to make your baby happy and healthy, so do what’s best for you!
- FIND THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT When you’re looking for which bottle to start with, begin with one that mimics your breast, making the transition natural for baby. Philips Avent Natural Bottle is the perfect place to start for both you and baby. The shape is just the beginning. Philips Avent Natural Bottles offer an anti-colic system which allows air to flow into the bottle- not baby’s belly, and there are so few parts for you to wash, it takes the dread out of late night feeds, for sure! Remember that there is no perfect bottle that will work for every baby, so it may take some trial and error for you to find the perfect one. Don’t give up!
- LET SOMEONE ELSE DO IT/BE OUT OF THE HOUSE. If you try to give your baby his first bottle, there may be some frustration as to why you’re not offering your breast. It may be less confusion and your baby may be more open to trying a bottle if someone else who isn’t you and doesn’t smell like you (or your breast milk) makes the introduction. Ask your partner, a grandparent, a childcare provider, or a friend to help. To make it easier on everyone, you may want to take a little walk (or go treat yourself to a massage!), as baby can smell you. (True story: Dave can walk into Millie’s room while she is asleep to check on her, and she won’t stir. I cannot even walk past her room if the door is open.)
- ENCOURAGE WITH A SAMPLE/WATCH FOR SIGNS Of course, we don’t all have someone to help us with this process. If you are the one introducing the bottle, try putting a little breastmilk on your baby’s lips so s/he knows what’s in there. Be sure you’re watching for frustration. It’s OK to stop before you (both) reach the boiling point, so your baby doesn’t come to associate bottle feeding with frustration and bad feelings. If all is going well, make sure you give your baby the opportunity to pause and restart, similar to the natural timing of breastfeeding. This process will help your baby make the connection that the two feeding processes are similar and give you a moment to catch signs that your baby is full. Head turning or pursing of lips are good tells… similar to how you can judge baby’s fullness from the feel of your breasts during nursing.
- BOND Bottle-feeding and breast-feeding are very alike and achieve the same goal: happy, fed babies! Bottle-feeding provides you with the same opportunities to snuggle, relax, and connect with your baby.
Have you made the transition from breast to bottle? What’s your best tip? Don’t forget to enter to win a 3-pack of Philips Avent Natural Bottles!
Philips Avent Natural Giveaway