All breastfeeding classes and books elaborate on how it might not be the best idea to introduce a baby to bottles in a hurry. The thing is breastfeeding creates a bond between the mother and the child. If your baby starts preferring the bottle, refusing to be breastfed, this connection might be disrupted. The question which thus arises is can you start bottle-feeding once you are sure that you have developed a strong bond with your baby. Is it acceptable to switch to the bottle if you need to resume working or because you are tired and would like to share the responsibility with someone else?
Few months of exclusive breastfeeding do not guarantee that transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle-feed would be smooth. However, it is paced bottle feeding which might be the answer. In this form of feeding, breastfeeding is mimicked. The baby thus has control over the amount of milk he intakes during the feed. Paced bottle-feeding also ensures that switching to bottle-feeding is smooth while at the same time, breastfeeding is supported.
Are you wonder if paced bottle feeding would be the right option? Let us share some things you should know.
- Setting up of the pace
This method of feeding allows the baby to set up the pace. You should commence by using a bottle that has a broad base with a nipple that offers slow flow. This is similar to the breast. The baby should be in a sitting position, upright but little reclined. If the baby is laid back, the milk will pour in the baby's mouth which is not what you want.
- Latching technique
Allow the bottle nipple to touch the top lip of the baby, sweeping it over the bottom lip. This latching technique leads to stimulation of rooting reflex. You are allowing the baby to pull the nipple into his mouth. You would not have to force it in. Make sure that the baby has a wide latch on the nipple, much like when he is breastfed.
- Prevention of overfeeding
Do not speed up the feeding. Give the baby time to swallow the milk after sucking it. You will need to adjust the level of the bottle as you feed. When the baby is drawing the nipple in and sucking, the bottle should be in a horizontal position. You can then lower it once he has sucked twice or thrice. This gives the baby the opportunity to swallow the milk. The baby thus can realize when he has had enough and is no longer hungry. Rapid feeding prevents this.
- Prevent Wasting of Milk
Wasting milk can be prevented. Fill the bottle to a small increment of about 1 - 3 ozs. The bottle can easily be refilled if the baby wants more. Once the baby starts showing signs of not wanting to eat you should discontinue feeding. Everyone will also be feeding your baby should follow this method as well.
It is vital to remember that it takes some time for a baby to make the transition from breastfeeding to bottle. While paced bottle-feeding is effective, you will need to give the baby some time to get comfortable with the bottle. One way to ensure this is to offer the bottle to the baby regularly.
Introduce the bottle at least three weeks before you have to return to work. In the beginning, offer him the bottle once daily, increasing the frequency gradually. Do not panic if the baby does not respond well to the bottle initially. It will take some time.