You have heard all sorts of conflicting information about bottle feeding your breastfed baby; some say you should wait months; others insist you should introduce bottles early! How confusing. Not to worry, we are going to break it all down for you and help you understand when to begin using bottles, how to choose a bottle, and the steps you can take to encourage your baby to happily go back and forth between breast and bottle feeding!
When to begin
Families have many different reasons and goals for introducing bottles to their breastfed baby. Many moms desire breaks from breastfeeding – where another caregiver can feed the baby while she takes time for herself. Some families are faced with introducing bottles when there are health complications or breastfeeding has hit some snags. In situations where supplementing is needed and it is not feasible to use an alternative such as a syringe, feeding cup, or supplemental nursing system, bottles can be the best option. If breastfeeding is going well and both partners (i.e. the breastfeeding parent and child) are enjoying breastfeeding, it is best to wait 2-4 weeks after delivery before introducing bottles. Of course, this is not always an option and using bottles is a decision that is made in the first several days or within the first 2 weeks.
You may be wondering, “why is 2-4 weeks after delivery the ideal time to begin using bottles with your breastfed baby?” This is because breastfeeding can take some time to get the hang of, and while we are striving to reach our personal breastfeeding goals, it is important that both partners practice! Afterall, practice makes perfect…
Waiting too long, on the other hand, can present other issues such as baby refusing to take bottles or finding out your breastmilk contains high lipase and sours when frozen.
Frequency and volume
It is smart to start small when first introducing bottles. Remember, your baby is brand new at learning to drink from a bottle. It would be frustrating to put 4 or 5 ounces of your hard-earned expressed breast milk into a bottle only to have baby finish 2 ounces. So, “test the waters” before diving in. Initially, 2 ounces is a good volume to shoot for. If your baby is less than 1 month old, it is best to follow this guideline: once you have introduced bottles, offer a bottle no less than once a week and no more than 7 times per week. This tip could save you the headache of baby suddenly preferring bottles OR completely refusing bottles later.
Selecting the best bottle
Bottles come in many shapes, sizes, and feature nifty designs that can help reduce spit up, overeating, or excessive gas, just to name a few. With all these options, how is one to choose!? Some simple tips will help you narrow down the list.
Go for the slow flow nipple
Talk to friends who have also used bottles with their breastfed baby
Find bottles that are easy to wash
Consider purchasing bottles that are compatible with your breast pump
Invest in quality bottles… you never know how long they might be in use in your household
If you would like additional assistance with introducing or using bottles with your breastfed baby, Schedule an appointment today!