Whether you’ve gone back to work or you are having your partner give a bottle while you pump or you’re just ready to introduce a bottle, knowing when and how to introduce a bottle is helpful knowledge we are here to give you!
5 Simple Step to Get Your Baby to Take a Bottle
- Give yourself plenty of time to practice bottle feeding.
- Pick the right moment.
- Delegate the first bottle feed to someone else.
- Make sure the milk is at their ideal temperature.
- Practice paced-bottle feeding.
1. Give yourself plenty of time to practice bottle feeding.
If you know you are about to return to work or school or just that you want to introduce a bottle soon, it’s helpful to read and listen to others' advice. It’s suggested to ideally wait three to six weeks before introducing a bottle.
2. Pick the Right Moment
When you introduce something new you want to make sure you are doing it at the right moment. What we mean by the right moment is a time when your baby is happy and relaxed, not crying or worked up and upset. Think of your first feed with a bottle to be a fun, new experience, not one that needs to be for a meal.
3. Delegate the First Bottle Feed to Someone Else
Not only does delegating bottle feeds to someone else give you some of your time back to yourself, but it also gives the other caregiver the experience of feeding your sweet baby. Sharing feeding time can help you and your baby. Feeding time can be an intimate time for both the baby and the caregiver. Your baby will be comfortable knowing she is being taken care of by a loved one, even though it’s in a different way than breastfeeding from mom.
Sometimes a breastfed baby will not take a bottle from her breastfeeding mother, because she expects a nursing session. But, this doesn’t mean she won’t take a bottle period. It may take a few tries for them to get it down, and that’s okay. Remember, new things take time and practice. It could help if your partner wraps the bottle in something that smells like you. Something as simple as the burp cloth you always have slung over your shoulder! If you’re comfortable, you could even suggest for them to try skin-to-skin feeding. This would be when the caregiver is holding the baby and watching them while giving the bottle. Skin-to-skin feeding would probably be most fitting for a co-parent or father.
4. Make Sure the Milk is at the Ideal Temperature
The ideal temperature looks different for each baby. Breastmilk that comes directly from the breast is lukewarm. Some babies like their milk to be warmed in a warmer, while others take it at room temperature, or some straight from the fridge (just make sure the fat is mixed in with the milk and not stuck to the sides of the bottle first)! Be prepared to try different temperatures before landing on a consistent one.
Another tip to keep in mind is warming or cooling the nipple on the bottle. Some teething babies prefer a cooler nipple that has been in the refrigerator.
5. Practice Paced-Bottle Feeding
Paced-bottle feeding is best for breastfed babies. This is when the bottle is kept in a horizontal, flat, position. The reason is so your baby still actively sucks in order to get milk, similar to being at the breast. This will help prevent her from getting used to milk easily flowing out of the bottle if it was positioned over them. Getting used to easy flowing milk can lead to nursing strikes or frustration at the breast.
You will want to share these paced-bottle feeding directions with your caregiver whom you are sharing the bottle feeding duties with. You can even look up a video if they are more visual learners!
- Position baby comfortably, but not lying on their backs. They should be sitting up, with support behind their neck and shoulders from your hand or arm - not a pillow alone.
- Gently present the bottle across their lips to get her to open wide for the nipple, just as she would at the breast.
- Keep the bottle horizontal.
- Tip the bottle slowly as it becomes empty so there is milk in the nipple, but do not feel like the nipple has to be completely full of milk.
- Watch for signs to take a break and burp the baby. You don’t want to wait until the entire bottle is empty before burping. Bottle feeds can also be tiring so baby might also not finish the bottle in one sitting.
- Paced-bottle feeding can take 15-20 minutes.
What Type of Bottle to Buy
When it comes to choosing what type of bottle to use for your baby, choose
one where the nipple gradually increases in width. Avoid ones that are long and narrow and suddenly get large. The similar they are to you, the better.
It’s recommended to use a slow flow or “newborn” nipples when bottle feeding a breastfed baby. Typically, you should not need to move up a nipple size for a breastfed baby. The idea is that the bottle flow should be similar enough to the nursing sessions with mom. Since breastfed babies have to work for their milk at the breast and breasts usually release milk slower than a bottle nipple it’s important to keep the same type of flow when switching between breast and bottle. If you give your baby a fast flowing nipple, they may start to refuse the breast because it’s coming easier to them from the bottle.
Be prepared to try different types. Some babies take to any, while others are picky! That’s why there are so many different options. Be patient and have a variety on hand, ready to use!
How Much Milk to Put in The Bottle
Similar to adults, not all meals or feedings will be the same size for your baby. According to La Le League, most 1-6 month old breastfed babies take 2-4oz of breastmilk per feeding, typically 24oz in a day. Your pediatrician is also an excellent resource for you for determining how many ounces your baby needs. Keep in mind your recommended diaper output for the age of your baby, and keep track of that to ensure your baby is getting the proper amount of milk. Babies will let you know when they’ve had enough by turning away from the bottle.
Did you find this information useful? Do you have any bottle feeding tips to share? Let us know in The Official Milky Mama Lactation Support Group. This is your place to get advice from our team of Milky Mama experts and seasoned breastfeeding moms. If you are needing more one-on-one help book a call with one of our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants here.