As a lactation consultant I see mamas at all different parts of their breastfeeding journey and we know how confusing it can be to receive multiple pieces of advice and suggestions. I always believe it is important to try something but if it doesn’t work for you and your baby that is okay! I want you to find what works for you.
When I meet mamas who are breastfeeding or working on their breastfeeding journey one of the common suggestions I make is to try a version of bottle-feeding called “Paced Bottle Feeding” in combination with continuing to work on breastfeeding.
Paced Bottle Feeding is a method of bottle feeding that allows your baby to be more in control of the feeding pace. When we are breastfeeding or working on breastfeeding one of the biggest concerns is that your baby would develop a preference for the bottle and this is typically because it is easier to get milk from the bottle in the breast. With paced bottle feeding we are going to slow the flow of the milk into the nipple, allowing your baby to eat more slowly and take breaks just as they would do at the breast!
To practice paced bottle feeding with your baby:
- Keep your baby in an upright position. This helps him keep control of the flow of milk.
- Wait for your baby to accept the nipple into his mouth. Don’t force the nipple into his mouth or you could create a feeding aversion. Let your baby lead – softly touch his lips with the nipple, and let that touch stimulate the rooting response. He will open his mouth wide, and then you can gently guide the nipple into his mouth.
- Keep the bottle at a horizontal level. This keeps your baby drinking at a steady pace that is easy to control. If you tip the bottle up, he will drink more milk and faster than if he gets to control it himself.
- Give your baby frequent breaks, every ½ ounce or so. This mimics breastfeeding, as babies often pause to swallow.
- Switch the side you are holding your baby halfway through the feed. This prevents him from developing a side preference and is good for development as he will see a different view from each side.
- Let your baby control when he is finished. Just because there are four ounces in the bottle does not mean he will drink all of them. Watch for signs of effective feeding–baby is alert and drinking actively. Once sucking slows, and he is starting to get drowsy, gently take the nipple out of his mouth by pulling it out in a circular motion. Then, touch the nipple to his lips again, waiting to see if he wants to accept it for more. If he doesn’t, burp him and attempt again. If he still doesn’t want it, then your baby is full.
Paced feeding reduces the risk of overfeeding that may result in discomfort to the baby. This feeding method can be utilized for any baby that receives bottles, whether fully bottle-fed, or fed from the breast and a bottle.
If you are having issues introducing a bottle to your little one, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Mama Coach for support!