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Introducing A Bottle

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When is the right time? If you plan to continue nursing your baby after the bottle is introduced, you should ideally wait until breastfeeding has been successfully established which generally occurs 4 to 6 weeks after birth.

If you will be returning to work or school, it is a good idea to start trying at least two weeks before your start date. This two weeks will give you time to slowly introduce the bottle to your baby and will give him time to get use to it before many of his feedings are given by bottle.

Nipple Confusion – Will I still be able to breastfeed?

The chances of nipple confusion are greatest in the early days of nursing, but it is possible for an older baby to become confused. Nipple confusion refers to when a baby has a difficult time switching between breast and bottle.

When breastfeeding a baby has to suck to initiate a let-down , which brings a flow of milk. The flow will slow down to a few drops then he will have to begin sucking harder and longer to initiate an additional let-down in order for more milk to flow.

When a baby is bottle feeding there is a constant flow of milk whether or not he sucks on the nipple. He is able to drink milk more easily from a bottle because he doesn’t have to work for it. That is why young babies will often prefer a bottle to the breast if they have not yet mastered breastfeeding. Older babies are able to breastfeed more easily and are less likely to have a difficult time switching from breast to bottle.

Helpful Tips On When to Introduce A Bottle

  1. Have dad or someone else offer the bottle while you are out of the room Your baby may not accept a bottle from you when he is used to nursing when you’re around..
  2. Offer a small amount of milk in a bottle in between feedings when baby is not hungry. Trying to introduce a bottle during a feeding when he is starving can make it more difficult.
  3. Be prepared to try out a variety of nipples. An artificial nipple is going to be different from mom so you may need to try a few before you find one that your baby likes.
  4. Many babies have adverse reactions to cold plastic nipples. Try warming the nipple under warm water before giving it to the baby.
  5. Try using a position that the baby is not usually nursed in. If the baby is regularly nursed in the cradle position he may not accept a bottle when held that way because he expects to nurse.
  6. Don’t try to force the bottle in his mouth. Tickle his lips with the nipple until he opens his mouth.

Keep in mind that some breastfed babies may never accept a bottle, but will gladly take milk from a sippy cup when mom is away. Switching a breastfed baby to a bottle can be a challenge, but keep in mind that the breast is the only thing that your baby has know since birth, and he may not welcome a bottle with open arms. By slowly introducing a bottle into your baby’s feeding schedule, the transition from breast to bottle can be made a little smoother.

If you plan to introduce a bottle of breastmilk into your baby’s feeding schedule on a regular basis then you may need a quality breast pump to help you express milk for his feedings. 

Return to: Breast Pumping Issues

Introduce a bottle
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