The chances are that even if you are breastfeeding your baby, you are also planning to introduce a bottle. This gives mama a break from the constant feeding, and more importantly, means that baby can be fed if Mom isn’t present. Hello, date night! If you have breastfed exclusively since birth, even if it’s only been a few weeks, the idea of introducing a bottle can seem daunting. Didn’t you just get this whole nursing thing down? Not to worry, we have you covered. These 7 tips can help you make introducing a bottle a smooth transition for you and your baby.
1. Wait Until Breastfeeding Is Established
If you are planning to continue breastfeeding and bottle feeding, most lactation consults will urge you to wait until baby is a month old before introducing the bottle to avoid any nipple confusion and to make sure a good latch is established. Personally I think a month is great time to start because if you wait too long they can often prefer the breast over a bottle and it can be hard to introduce it later.
2. Slow Flow Nipple
If you are offering a bottle to a breastfed baby, especially an infant, make sure you are using a slow flow nipple to start. This will make the flow easier to manage as they are adjusting.
3. Have Someone Else Do It
Oftentimes your baby will prefer to have the breast over a bottle when they start learning. Unless, your little one is a hungry hippo like my kid and doesn’t care where his food comes from! If this is the case have someone else offer the bottle instead of you. This may mean you need to leave the room, or even the house (babies have crazy smelling senses and can sometimes tell you are in the room, even if they can’t see you!).
4. Consistency Is Key
If your baby needs to regularly switch back and forth from the breast and bottle make sure you include a bottle in your routine. This could be switching out their evening feed or even having Daddy do the midnight feed from now on. Consistency will help avoid a bottle regression and give you peace of mind when you need to leave your baby with another caregiver.
5. Start Small
There is something about a bottle that makes us think they need to finish it all. But when it comes to nursing, we are not quite sure how much they are getting with each feed. When introducing the bottle for the first time, start small. Even with just an ounce or two, especially if you are using pumped milk. No body wants to waste that liquid gold.
6. Experiment With Different Bottles
If you baby isn’t jumping onboard the bottle train right away you may want to explore a new bottle. I always tell me friends not to get set on a specific bottle type when registering or to buy too many to start because if we know anything about babies, it’s that they have a mind of their own. Trust me, you don’t want to be dropping a small fortune on bottles your baby wont touch.
7. Try, Try and Try Again
If at first you don’t succeed…don’t give up. Some babies just take a bit longer to come around to the idea of the bottle than others. Using the tips from above, keep offering the bottle, everyday if possible, until they become used to it.