Monday, June 21, 2010

Offering a Breastfed Baby a Bottle

One of the many concerns facing a new mother is whether to feed her new infant from the breast or the bottle. Many women are choosing to breastfeed, but with busy and demanding lifestyles they often find it necessary for their babies to accept a bottle (hopefully filled with breastmilk). Occasionally a breastfed baby balks at accepting an artificial nipple for feeding. Below are suggestions but, none of these are necessarily an absolute 'fix'. It will require practice and patience for several weeks.

When to Start
  • Two helpful markers are that the mother's milk supply is well established and breastfeeding is going well. We suggest starting at two to four weeks of age since an older baby may strongly refuse the bottle.
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The Approach
  • It can be helpful to have someone other than the mother offer a breastfed baby a bottle. Mothers may want to step out of the room, or leave the house during the bottle-feeding. Again these are suggestions, the mother may have better luck.

  • Have the father/caregiver mimic the nursing mother's feeding ritual and practice respect for the baby's newly learned breastfeeding cues.

  • If the baby resists being cuddled, have the father/caregiver hold the baby with his or her back against their chest with the baby facing out. Looking out into the room provides a distraction, which may be helpful.

  • As a last resort, the father/caregiver can try feeding the baby seated in an infant seat.

  • Try short, frequent trials until the baby takes the artificial nipple without difficulty. It's better to try several short trials than to have a major bout of screaming.

  • Instruct the father/caregiver to give the baby a bottle after a nap, before the baby is fully awake, or before the baby is overly hungry. The more mellow the baby, the greater the possibility of accepting something new. Try feeding before your baby is too hungry and after naps.

  • Don't let the father always be the "bad guy."

For more complete information, helpful tips, and proper feeding expectations read the full article Offering a Breastfed Baby a Bottle from the Pump Station

Thanks to Susan OTT, RPT. CLC, Janet Jondron (excerpted from Rental Roundup), Carol Follingstad, RN, MPH , CLC, and Cynthia Epps, MS, CLE for their suggestions.

This article has not been prepared by a physician, is not intended as medical advice, and is not a substitute for regular medical care. Consult with a physician if medical symptoms or problems occur. Copyright © 2001 by The Pump Station. All rights reserved. No part of this handout may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. Electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, without permission in writing from The Pump Station.