How to Bottle Feed Your Breastfed Baby – The Ultimate Guide

Breastfeeding your baby is a very personal experience for a new mother. It is a time of great bonding for you and your baby. However, circumstances will arise in which always being available to breastfeed your baby is not possible.

This can be a very emotional time for you. You may be feeling some anxiety over whether introducing your baby to a bottle is really the right decision. In some cases it can even be difficult to get a baby that is used to being breastfed to accept a bottle. Here are some techniques for how to bottle feed your breastfed baby.

Ensuring Bottle Safety

  1. Always wash your hands before preparing a bottle for your baby.
  2. Make sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize both the bottles and nipples prior to filling them.
  3. Consider using the dishwasher for the bottles and nipples. The dishwasher has been shown to kill more bacteria than hand washing dishes alone.
  4. If you choose to hand wash your bottles, use hot water and soap. Make sure to rinse everything. Soap can cause stomach discomfort for your baby.
  5. Don’t reuse milk that is left in the bottle. After an hour, bacteria will start to grow in the milk. And the bacteria will transfer from your baby’s mouth into the bottle.

When to Introduce the Bottle

Many mothers don’t foresee the need to introduce their babies to the bottle early on. While experts agree that it is important to establish a bond with your child, how this is accomplished is not as important. You shouldn’t feel guilty or less like a mother just because you want to have the option of bottle feeding your baby.

You may be returning to work, or you just want to have the option of someone else feeding your baby, such as the father. It is important that the father also has a chance to bond with your baby.

Try to introduce a bottle to your baby before they are six weeks old. If you can get them used to the bottle by this point, the transition between bottle and breast is not as difficult.

Your baby will be more resistant to changing the established routine after six weeks of age. Of course, there will always be those days in which your baby will refuse to take the bottle because they want to be close to you instead.

If your baby is over six weeks old and you want to introduce the bottle, it is okay to do so. The process may be more difficult, but with a few tricks this transition can still occur. Feeding your breastfed baby can be easy if you have the patience and confidence.

Tips for Introducing the Bottle before Six Weeks

  • Try putting some breast milk in the bottle. Babies have a keen sense of smell and will often refuse the bottle if it doesn’t seem right to them.
  • Choose a bottle that will allow you to hold it horizontal to your baby. The point is to maintain your baby’s sucking reflex, and not just pour the milk into their mouth.
  • Select a low flow nipple for the bottle. Make sure that the nipple is longer and has a wide base to easily fit in your baby’s mouth. This will most closely resemble a breast and will allow you to easily switch between bottle and breast.
  • Position your baby in the manner that you normally breastfeed. Babies like to know what is expected of them. Changing position could confuse your baby and make them less likely to accept the bottle.
  • Your baby might need to be burped more frequently while introducing the bottle. This could be for a variety of reasons. Your baby may be fussing more while eating and taking gulps of air. It could also be because bottles are more likely to have air, causing your baby to have to learn how to deal with swallowing more air than they are used to while eating.

Tips for Introducing the Bottle for a Resistant Baby

  1. Change position if your baby is refusing to accept the bottle. Make sure that they are calm before trying again. Walk around the room and gently rock your baby.
  2. Make eye contact and hold it while trying to introduce the bottle. You want your baby to feel that same connection with you with the bottle as with the breast.
  3. Try a different style of bottle nipple. Your baby may be reacting to the feel of something new in their mouth.
  4. Run some warm water over the bottle nipple. Remember that your baby is used to a warm breast.
  5. Rub the bottle nipple with some breast milk. Place the nipple under your baby’s nose to establish that familiar smell with them.
  6. Keep trying to get your baby to accept the bottle. It may not happen today, or even tomorrow. Don’t let this setback discourage you. Try again later when your baby is hungry. Offer the bottle first every time you are feeding your breastfed baby.
  7. Have someone else try offering your baby a bottle. This could help to break that established routine and make your baby more receptive. Leave the room so as not to confuse your baby with your smell. You may even have to leave the house.
  8. Stay calm throughout the process. Your baby can sense your emotions. If you are upset, your baby is more likely to be upset. Let your baby know that the bottle is just something new, and not something to be feared.

Breast Milk versus Formula

While breast milk is best for your baby, there may be reasons that you are unable to give your baby breast milk. Many women either don’t produce enough breast milk to meet the nutritional needs of their baby, or don’t produce any breast milk. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or less like a mother if you need to use formula.

Choosing a formula for your baby can be a daunting experience. While all major formulas offer the right amount of nutrients to support your growing baby, there are lots of different options even within one brand. If you need assistance, consult with your doctor.

They can steer you in the right direction for selecting a formula that will agree with your baby’s individual needs.

If you are using formula, make sure to wash the container before you open it. Some formula comes in a powder. This type of formula requires a supply of clean water. If you are utilizing tap water, make sure that it is free of any heavy metals or bacteria.

It is best to heat the water and the formula to reduce the risk of making your baby sick since powdered formula is not sterile. It is also important to retain the formula container while you are using it. There is a lot number on the container. This allows for tracking if there is a recall on your formula.

Using a Breast Pump

Whether you are using breast milk or formula while introducing the bottle to your baby and if you are not weaning you still want to maintain your milk supply. Whether you already purchased a pump or are considering purchasing one; first determine how you are going to use it.

Are you planning on the occasional use, regular use, or are you just trying to increase your supply? The amount of use will dictate what type of pump that you should purchase. These are some of the things to consider before purchasing a breast pump.

  • Make sure to purchase a good quality pump. While a cheaper pump may look tempting, they can be loud and may even cause nipple damage.
  • Check to ensure the pump has a good warranty. This is generally the expected lifetime of the pump.
  • Consider renting a good quality pump if you are only planning on using it for a short amount of time. Make sure that the tubing and cups are replaceable. This will prevent bacterial infections from being transferred to your milk supply.
  • There are manual pumps available if you are only planning on using it a couple of times a week. There are also small electric pumps that run on batteries. This would have the same limited use lifetime.
  • Consider a double style of pump. This will save you time and in some instances, generate a larger milk supply.

Making the Transition during the Night

Wait for your baby to successfully take to the bottle, then transition slowly. Consider giving the bottle for one feeding during the day. Babies are more resistant to giving up their breastfeeding’s during the night.

Don’t try to force the issue. Let your baby tell you when they are ready to transition at night. Here is how to bottle feed your breastfed baby at night.

  1. Try offering the bottle first. Because your baby is used to seeing and accepting the bottle, offering the bottle first may be an easy transition.
  2. Consider letting your partner do one of the night time feedings.
  3. Establish the same routine that you do with the bottle feedings during the day.
  4. To make it easier, prepare the bottle in advance. Make sure that it is properly stored before the feeding to prevent bacterial growth. You can even consider using ready-made formula that can be stored at room temperature to reduce the amount of time you are wandering around the house at night.
  5. Some babies might not mind a cold bottle. Others may require the milk to be warm. Use whatever method that you do during the day at night time.
  6. Switch arms halfway during the feeding. This is something that you probably already do when breastfeeding. Create the familiar to make your baby more comfortable with losing that breastfeeding time.
  7. Continue to bond with your baby during this time. It is important to maintain that sense of contact and comfort that they expect during night time breastfeeding.
  8. Don’t worry about how much your baby is eating at night. A caution with this though is to make sure that your baby is still gaining weight. Consult with your doctor if you don’t think that your baby is gaining weight. There may be other causes to consider.
  9. As your baby gets older, you can transition to a cup instead of a bottle. This will allow your baby more control over how they eat, and provide a stepping off point for them to become a toddler.

Final Words on How to Bottle Feed Your Breastfed Baby

Breastfeeding your baby is something that you will always cherish. There are benefits to bottle feeding as well. Sometimes it can give you piece of mind to know exactly how much your baby is eating.

It also allows your partner to enjoy that bonding experience with your baby. With the added benefit of giving you a much deserved break. While it is legally acceptable to breastfeed in public, many mothers would prefer to have that be a more private moment.

Bottle feeding allows a mother who is uncomfortable breastfeeding in public another option in making sure that their baby is still cared for. For some women, there is concern that prescription medications can be transferred to their baby or some other type of infection.

In those instances, formula and bottle feeding are a good option. Bottle feeding can also help with weaning your baby later on down the line. It is important to still establish that connection with your baby. Bottle feeding can allow you other avenues to building on that bond with your baby.

Some mothers find that they have more energy when their baby will eat from the bottle – especially if they are able to get more rest with their partner able to take on some of the night time feedings.

Consider whether bottle feeding your breastfed baby is something that will work for you and your family. This is a very personal decision. But having the flexibility to have some time for yourself may be well worth it.

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