The Mum Project: How to bottle feed a breastfed baby
Deciding to introduce feeding your baby breastmilk from a bottle can often be a very intense and experience, one which is surrounded by questions on how to approach it in the best way so not to disrupt your routine. For those of you looking for some friendly advice, our lovely blogger Meagan from The Mum Project has put together an advice article using lessons she has learnt from her own experience.
Every cheesy thing you have ever heard about becoming a parent is absolutely true. They are the only thing that matters in the entire world.
They are why you get up in the morning and go to bed at night, which is why being a new parent is also the most terrifying experience in the world.
There are so many firsts that happen:
The first time they look at you, first diaper change, first shot in the arm, first trip to the doctor, first baby outfit, first smile, first toy, first tooth, first time they make a noise, first night’s sleep, first time they don’t sleep, first time you go out into the real world…
…and for breastfeeding mothers, the first time you give them breastmilk with a bottle.
Now this can be a very intense and worrying experience. How much milk should I express? What kind of breast-pump do you buy? What if they don’t take the bottle? What brand of bottle do you buy? What if he starts crying? Should I feed him or will this confuse him? Should Daddy feed him only? When is the best time, at night time or first thing in the morning?
There are so many questions that I had when I wanted to start bottle feeding, so I wanted to share my experience to prevent any worry or fear with new mums.
I found that it’s helpful introducing the bottle earlier, around three months, as my son was able to learn faster with minimal confusion and crying. In my experience, here are my top tips for bottle feeding a breast fed baby:
Get into a comfy position
Being held in an upright position was very important when feeding my son. He was able to swallow the milk in a more relaxed manner and we were able to avoid ear infections or delayed burps. There were times where we would feed him while sitting in an upright chair to avoid the association of being held whilst eating (although I would only suggest doing this if your baby is 6 months or older).
We always made sure that our son was looking up at us so that he felt calm and reassured. The last thing you want is a distressed baby while learning to bottle feed.
Warm up the milk
If you are using breast milk, do not use the microwave as this could create hot spots and burn the baby's mouth. You could run the bottle/storage bag under warm water or use warm water in a pot. You can also buy a milk heating device if you don’t have enough time. Here are some really useful guidelines on storing breast milk by Lansinoh: basically refrigerating or storing breast milk right after you’ve expressed is best. I also think keeping the breast milk at the back of the refrigerator where it is at its coldest is important.
Use a natural teat
This may sound obvious, but the options for teats are enormous and never ending. Finding the right teat is hard. We tried about ten different brands before we found the right one, and even then it changed as our son got older.
One of the best we tried was the Lansinoh NaturalWave Teat and this quickly became our favourite. Not only is it clinically proven to reduce nipple preference in established breastfed babies, our son took to it very easily. He was able to use similar “mouth motion” from the nipple to this bottle as it encourages the wave-like tongue movement. We were very impressed. I’m not going to lie, there were a few tears in the beginning (this nearly broke my heart and I had to leave the room) but after a couple days, he was a pro.
Get the right “flow”
This was a bit tricky. We had to test a couple of bottles before we knew what kind of “flow” matched my breast flow. The NaturalWave Teat was great because our son was able to control the flow. I didn’t realise until a few weeks into bottle feeding that I had a slow flow in the beginning and then a fast flow during the “let down.”
Let Dad feed him first
The smell of you may confuse your child, so try letting Dad feed him from the bottle first. We have a couple of friends that mentioned the mum would have to leave the room if her baby was feeding from a bottle. Your baby may be like this, so might be worth letting Daddy have some bonding time on his own. You’ve had all the feeding time anyway, it’s time to take a break! :)
Introduce the bottle slowly
I would recommend starting with one bottle a day and then adding two bottles, and so on until you feel comfortable. My son took a little while to get the mouth action just right, so I wouldn’t go cold turkey from the breast if you are trying to stop breastfeeding (unless it’s an emergency and it’s necessary).
I wouldn’t want to go cold turkey as it would be very uncomfortable for your breasts as well. I used the Lansinoh Double Electric Breast Pump to express. This literally got 5 to 7 oz of breast milk out within ten minutes, amaze! My breasts were free for three hours of bliss. I took them to the shops to buy a huge ice cream and a new bra. Thanks breasts!
I introduced a bottle to my son in the morning when he was most happy. I know a lot of parents decide to introduce a bottle at night, but my son was cranky by that point and I was not about to introduce a bottle to a crying, fidgeting, whining baby. Pick the time of day that is best for your baby.
Hopefully this helps those new parents who are about to take the deep dive into the bottle feeding world. I know how scary it may seem, my heart was literally pounding out of my ears! But in the end it is all worthwhile, Dad gets to spend some quality time with baby and you get a MUCH needed break.