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Introducing a Bottle to Your Breastfed Baby

We all know and agree that breastfeeding your baby for the first year, only adding baby food between 4-6 months is best for your baby. Before the invention of bottles, mothers would have to keep their babies with them at all times while breastfeeding so that she could feed the baby when he was hungry. Bottles however create an ease and release some of the pressure from the breastfeeding mom’s shoulders.

introducing-a-bottle-to-your-breastfed-baby.jpgToday, a woman can create a bottle of breast milk to have ready for her baby to eat in cases where she needs to leave the house for some “me” time, or go on the occasional “date” with her spouse. Bottles are a great tool in allowing a mother to still breastfeed her baby and have a little freedom.

Introducing the Bottle
Introducing the bottle to a breastfed baby does not always come easily and does not always go smoothly. Many times a breastfed baby will fight the bottle, in an attempt to only eat from the breast. This can lead to frustration in parents. It is important for both parents to remember to remain patient during this process. Your baby can feel your frustration which might make it harder to get him to calm down.

When to Introduce the Bottle
Breastfeeding experts say to give yourself at least two weeks of breastfeeding before introducing your bottle. This not only helps your milk supply be set, but helps avoid nipple frustration for your baby. Often if a woman gives her baby a bottle from birth, the baby learns that sucking from a bottle is easier than sucking from his mother’s nipple and tries to refuse the breast. Realistically you should try to introduce the bottle to your baby before he turns six weeks old. While you don’t want to do it too early, you don’t want to wait too long either as your baby may fight the foreign object going into his mouth and make it difficult for you to get him drinking from the bottle.

How to Introduce the Bottle
When it comes to introducing the bottle to your breastfed baby there is one very important rule. Act like it is no big deal. Your baby can feel anxiety, frustration and other emotions that you feel, so if you are relaxed it is likely your baby may be more relaxed.

A breastfeeding mother has a scent that a baby can smell. Because of this, it may be difficult for mom to get the baby to take the bottle. If you smell a juicy cheeseburger and are offered a piece of toast, which would you choose? It is the same for baby. Because of this it may be easier for dad, a friend, or another family member to offer the baby a bottle, while mom gets out of sight. A baby will eat when he gets hungry enough, and if his food source is not within reach he is likely to take it easier from the bottle.

It will probably be easier to get your baby to take the bottle when he is not starving. Wait till the end of a feeding and hand him off to another person to try feeding him. When his belly is already almost full, and he isn’t frantic, the bottle might be accepted easier.

Introducing the Bottle Late
If you wait too long to introduce the bottle to your baby all hope is not lost. You will have to remember that it may be harder, and take longer to get him to take the bottle easily. You will need more patience and more than likely will need an extra set of hands to help your baby get used to the bottle. Remember not to try and give him a bottle on an empty stomach when he is very hungry and likely to fight more. Act like it is a new game for you and your baby to play and when he does take the bottle, if only for a couple of minutes before he tires of it, praise him and upon tiring, take the bottle away. If you don’t make it a big deal, chances are your baby won’t make it a big deal either.

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