Bottle feeding the Breastfed Baby

The reality of life means that even exclusively breastfed babies will likely need to take a bottle at some point. Wether you're preparing to go back to work or you just need an afternoon to yourself, it's important that your baby has an alternate feeding method in place so you don't have to worry when you're away from the house. I encourage all breastfeeding moms to introduce a bottle to their babies. At some point you will want to leave the house ALONE and go for a massage, a pedicure, grocery shopping or even the dentist on your own and not have to worry about your breastfed baby at home. This is real life and it's important for mamas to take a time out every now and then.

If you don't have a Meet the Fockers Manary Gland you will likely look to bottle feeding as that alternate feeding method.

When it comes to what's in the bottle, that's entirely your choice. Of course, as an IBCLC, I encourage mom's to pump that bottle and give baby expressed breastmilk. Breastmilk will always be the number 1 source of nutrition for babies. If you don't have a pump you could hand express that bottle just as well. If you have a trusted source you could consider donated expressed milk but if that's not available there is a place in this world for infant formula. I am such a strong supporter of mama self care that when it comes to offering a bottle, I think that the benefit of getting out on your own outweighs whatever you choose to feed your baby. It's always your choice.

I encourage mom's to wait until breastfeeding is well established before introducing a bottle. Well established means that...

  • your baby goes to the breast without hesitation

  • your baby is content after the feed

  • you don't have sore or damaged nipples

  • your baby has at least 6 wet diapers and 1 poopy diaper a day

  • your baby is breastfeeding at least 8-12 times within a 24hr period

It's very important that your baby is breastfeeding well before introducing a bottle. If you aren't sure, please ask.

I recommend introducing a bottle before babies are 8 weeks old. It's more likely that a younger baby will accept this alternate form of feeding. Here are some ways that you can encourage your breastfed baby to take a bottle:

  • Practice paced bottle feeding. Here are some video clips about the importance of paced bottle feeding...

Lisa shows you how to hold the bottle and explains how baby needs to be latched to the bottle in the same way they latch to the breast. Baby needs to control the flow.

This video focuses on the importance of the baby's position to allow for easier swallowing. The side lying position is also replicates the way they lie at the breast.

  • Choose a bottle nipple with a wide base. The wide base allows baby to latch on to the bottle in a similar way that they would latch to the breast. They need to open wide and latch onto the base of the bottle nipple rather than the nipple itself. I recommend these bottles for breastfed babies.

Tommee Tippee

Medela Calma

Como Tomo

Playtex DropIns

  • It may help to have someone other than the breastfeeding mom offer the bottle.

  • Offer the bottle when your baby is content or even sleepy and not when they are ravenously hungry.

  • Keep it happy. If baby refuses the bottle don't push it until they're frustrated. Try again at another time.

  • Make sure milk is body temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. Test it on the thinner skin on the inside of your wrist. If you don't notice the temperature of the liquid, meaning it's the same temperature as your body, it's perfect for your baby.

  • Continue to offer your baby a bottle on a regular basis. This could be weekly, it could be monthly, it could be daily it all depends on how well your baby take the bottle and goes back to the breast. If your baby struggles with going back and forth I suggest strictly breastfeeding and trying the bottle again when your baby is a little older. We want to preserve the breastfeeding relationship.

There are some general precautions for bottle feeding any baby:

  • Don't heat the milk in a microwave. This causes uneven and rapid heating. Instead place the bottle in a container of warm water until it reaches body temperature. Always test the temperature before offering it to your baby.

  • Don't reuse the bottle if your baby hasn't finished it. This is especially true if you are feeding infant formula. Saliva mixes with the formula and bacteria starts to grow. Expressed breastmilk may have a slightly longer shelf life. The active components in breastmilk will actually digest any bacteria but to be safe I recommend either feeding the remainder of the bottle within 30mins or throwing it away. I suggest heating small quantities of milk (1-3 ounces at a time depending on your baby's age) to avoid wasting.

When you have been away from your baby for a period of time, dedicate some time to skin to skin snuggles and focused breastfeeding. If your baby doesn't want to nurse as soon as you get home make sure to pump or hand express to make up for the feed they had while you were away. Then lie down and take a nap together, have a warm bath together or lie on the floor for some baby led play. You likely missed your baby as much (or more!) as they missed you so make sure to have some extra snuggles.

Love n' Snuggles is in no way affiliated with or any bottle producing companies. Our recommendations are not based on brand support and we do not receive monetary reward for recommending any specific products. Recommendations are based solely on benefit for moms and babies and preserving the breastfeeding relationship. Love n' Snuggles does not promote infant formula in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

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