How To Bottle Feed The Breastfed Baby

May 18, 2008

Many breastfeeding mothers feel the need to use a bottle at some time or another but rightly fear that it may cause breastfeeding problems. By expressing your milk you will protect your milk supply and avoid the use of formula but the bottle itself may still cause problems. Some babies can easily go back and forth from a bottle to the breast but many become confused and have trouble nursing.   The key to problem free bottle-feeding is to make it as much like breastfeeding as possible.

Latching On to The Bottle

A baby who is latched on well to the breast will have his mouth opened wide, like a yawn, and the breast deep in side so that the nipple reaches the junction between his soft and hard palates.  The breastfed baby needs to latch on to a bottle nipple the same way in order to reinforce his nursing skills.  Having the bottle teat deep in his mouth will cause him to suck similarly to breastfeeding.  If the nipple only reaches the front of his mouth he will suck differently.

Use a wide based nipple with a long enough teat.   A short stubby teat on a wide base or a long narrow nipple will not do.  Stimulate the baby to open his mouth wide by touching him with the bottle nipple just above his upper lip.  If this doesn't work, try moving it over his lips from top to bottom.  When the baby opens up real wide put the bottle in his mouth.  Make sure that his lips, especially the bottom lip, are on the wide part of the nipple and not on the shaft.  If he is too little to manage a wide based bottle try a narrow one making sure that his lips are around the slightly wider part at the base.

Keep It Slow: How To Feed Baby

Unlike our breasts, most bottles flow instantly, quickly and consistently whether they are sucked on or not.  Despite the physiological stress a fast flow causes the baby, some babies come to prefer the fast flow.  Some even forget that they need to suck to get milk.  Choose the slowest flow nipple you can find, one especially for newborns, even if your baby is older.  Hold your baby in sitting position and the bottle horizontally.  This way the milk won't just flow and your baby will have to suck. Don't worry that there is air in the nipple.  Your baby can swallow air; it is gulping milk that upsets his stomach.  If the baby is swallowing constantly despite this position, take the bottle out after every few sucks. Keep it resting just above his top lip so he can latch on when he is ready.  The feed should take about twenty minutes.

For more information on breastfeeding check out our breastfeeding videos.

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