Just as you and baby start to feel comfortable with the breastfeeding process, it may be time to introduce a bottle if you plan to spend any time away from your little one (go figure!). Whether you are returning to work or simply won’t be around your baby when they are hungry at times, paced bottle feeding is a gentle option for transitioning between breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
What is paced bottle feeding?
As the name indicates, it promotes a slower speed of feeding that is more natural for baby. This allows your baby to feel in control of their feeding sessions just as they are with breastfeeding. In other words, it allows for baby to regulate their own intake from the bottle, despite the constant and different flow of milk. This is a great option for maintaining a healthy and anxiety free breastfeeding relationship with your little one.
Why should I try paced bottle feeding?
- As baby learns to bottle feed, they will be less likely to prefer the bottle over the breast.
- Slower feeding allows baby to better gauge their fullness which prevents overeating.
- It allows a pumping mother to keep up with baby’s milk demand more easily. Overeating is more common with bottle feeding and can lead to a bad feeding cycle. This can leave you thinking you don’t have enough milk; a very exasperating feeling when caring for your baby. (The Bump offers a great guide if you’re unsure about your baby’s milk consumption.)
- Prevents and minimizes symptoms of colic and general discomfort from eating, such as gassiness.
- An improved bottle feeding experience can encourage bonding with the baby’s caregiver or other members of the family.
The basics of paced bottle feeding.
- Keep baby in a more upright position during the feed to more easily control milk flow.
- Try to follow baby’s cues for hunger such as rooting, sucking on fists, and general restlessness or fussiness before offering a bottle.
- Let baby naturally “latch” onto the bottle rather than forcing it into their mouths. Start by gently rubbing the nipple on their lips.
- To slow the milk flow, choose a slow flow nipple and keep the bottle horizontal or even more upright to start when the bottle is full, and ensuring that the nipple isn’t full of milk
- Take frequent feeding breaks for burping, switching sides, and giving baby a break as they would with breastfeeding.
- Feeding time should take 10 to 20 minutes as breastfeeding would.
Keep in mind these techniques are most suitable for babies less than 6 months old that are still mastering milk let down and efficiency of breastfeeding. With these simple tricks, bottle feeding can be a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved.
This is just another tool you can use to keep baby happy and thriving, which is truly all us moms really want for our babies after all!