by Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC & Co-Founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury®
It is general recommendation of many lactation consultants that breastfed babies begin receiving a bottle of breast milk at around 3 weeks of age. Offering a bottle too early may create problems with breast refusal. Waiting to long could result in a baby completely refusing to feed from any bottle. Once a bottle has been introduced the recommendation is to offer at least 2 bottles of expressed breast milk per week but not more than one per day until the mother returns to the work place.
What is the perfect bottle for a breastfed baby? Any new parent who has explored the wide selection of baby bottles is undoubtedly confused and overwhelmed. The choices appear endless. Nipples come in many different sizes and shapes. Should the bottle be plastic or glass? Does the angle of the bottle make a difference? What flow rate is best for the baby? Are all bottles fundamentally the same?
From a lactation consultant’s point of view, the biggest challenge in helping the breastfed baby to transition easily between the breast and the bottle is the rate of milk flow through the nipple. All bottle manufactures produce “slow flow, or newborn, or level one” nipples. The problem is that the actual flow rate between all these nipples can be quite different. Why is a slow flow so important? According to the research conducted at the University of California Davis, while bottle-feeding; infants tend to overfeed by as much as 25%. A truly slow flowing nipple will allow the baby a more leisurely feed, giving the stomach time to communicate with the brain that the baby is becoming satiated.
A favorite bottle among the lactation consultants at The Pump Station & Nurtury® is the LATCH bottle by Munchkin. This newborn nipple is actually one of the slowest flow nipples we have found. We also appreciate the soft, wide nipple shape which can “feel” more like a breast in a baby’s mouth. The Munchkin Company designed a unique according-like base to the nipple which allows the nipple to move and stretch within an infant’s mouth. An anti-colic valve at the bottom of the bottle prevents air from traveling through the milk. Lastly, this bottle system is easy to clean, as there are only 3 parts to take apart and clean.
Munchkin sought out the expertise of lactation consultants and occupational therapist to aid in the development of this unique bottle. Babies are easily able to transition from breast to bottle and back. With its wide, soft nipple that is truly a slow flow; the LATCH bottle is an excellent choice for the breastfed baby.