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Introducing a Bottle to Your Baby


Updated June 27, 2014

Breastfeeding can still continue if you decide to supplement with a bottle. Introducing a bottle to your baby is important if you plan to return to work or to simply have a break from breastfeeding. So, how do you go about offering a bottle to your baby if you're a breastfeeding mom?

The ideal time to introduce a bottle to your baby is between 2 and 3 weeks of age. It is important to make sure that your milk supply is well-established and that the baby is feeding well before offering a different kind of nipple. At the same time, if you wait too long before introducing the bottle, the baby may reject it. So it's best to stay within that window of time to avoid any type of nipple confusion or preference. It is also best if someone other than mom offers the bottle as babies are smart. They know what they can get from mommy and will often reject taking something other than the breast from her.

Remember that it's fine if the baby doesn't polish off the bottle. If she is used to breastfeeding, it's impossible to tell how much she should be taking. However, if the baby finished it within minutes, it does not mean that the baby needs more. Sometimes it's something as simple as using a nipple that's dissimilar to the slow-flow of a mother's breast. It's sink-or-swim: If the baby doesn't swallow milk from a bottle nipple that's too large, she will choke. So it seems that she's feeding quickly. Make sure that you're using a slow-flow or newborn nipple.

Here are some tried-and-true tricks:

  • Prepare the bottle about a half an hour before the baby's feed. The chances for rejection are slim if the bottle is all ready to go rather than having the baby wait hungrily for it to warm.
  • Warm the nipple under hot water.
  • Sit in a place where the baby is not typically breastfed.
  • Place the baby in your arms, keeping his head a bit higher than the rest of his body.
  • Place the nipple of the bottle well into the baby's mouth, centered on the tongue.
  • Sing or talk to the baby.
  • If the baby is very slow at first, that's okay. Remain patient and, once he understands he can get milk from that nipple as well, he'll start a rhythmic feed.
  • Burp frequently. Bottle feeding is different than breastfeeding and babies tend to swallow much more air during the process.

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