When can i start bottle feeding my baby

Eight Tips for How to Introduce Bottle-Feeding

As a nurse in the Institute for Maternal-Fetal Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, I meet many moms who are intimidated when it comes to knowing when and how to introduce bottle-feeding to their babies. It can be especially intimidating because of the many myths associated with starting bottle-feeding. My experience helping moms on this issue is what inspired this post and I hope to help ease the anxiety for those who wonder when and how to introduce bottle-feeding.

There are no mandatory rules about when to add a bottle to a baby’s feeding routine, but here are some expert tips that may make the process easier. (Tweet this)

1. Add a bottle after a healthy milk volume is established from your breast. If you are exclusively breastfeeding and want to keep it that way, then only introduce a bottle after you have established a healthy milk volume and breastfeeding routine. This can take up to four weeks after birth.

2. Continue breastfeeding or pumping to maintain milk volume. When your baby is feeding from the bottle, make it a priority to pump (and breastfeed when your baby is not using the bottle). Decreasing the amount of times milk is expressed from your breast can lead to a decrease in the volume produced.

3. Nipple confusion versus nipple preference. Many people believe that babies don’t want to be breastfed after bottle feeding or don’t want to bottle-feed after exclusively breastfeeding because of nipple confusion. This is not true. Babies do not get confused about the different feeding methods. But they do get accustomed to the breast or bottle and establish a nipple preference, which only means that they prefer one method over the other!

4. Use a bottle nipple that is wide-based, which is similar in size and shape to your nipple. I recommend wide-based nipples. Purchase a bottle with a nipple that is more similar to the human breast. These nipples are usually wide-based with shorter nipple heights. The nipple requires that the baby take a larger amount of the nipple into its mouth, similar to breastfeeding.

5. Purchase one nipple and bottle style at a time. Some babies are very picky when it comes to bottles, especially if they have been exclusively breastfeed. It is a good idea to buy one set of a certain bottle and nipple style at a time to make sure your baby can feed well before buying a larger supply. Sometimes babies will try out multiple bottles and nipples before they decide on a favorite.

6. Use a slow-flow feeding style. A slow-flow feeding style with a bottle closely resembles that of breastfeeding. Babies that breastfed are used to working for their food and it comes out at a slower rate. Whereas, bottle-feeding is easy and takes little effort. The rate is much quicker and babies can get used to this fast rate, making breastfeeding more frustrating when returning from bottle-feeding. If you are using a regular nipple allow the baby to take five to ten sucks and remove the bottle. Allow your baby to swallow and breathe. Then reinsert the bottle and start again. This process should encourage your baby to slow down their feeding. The feeding should take roughly 15 minutes, similar to that of a breastfeeding session.

7. It takes time. Many exclusively breastfed babies do not accept a bottle right away, so it may take a couple of attempts before your baby gets the hang of it. Be patient and continue to offer the bottle to your baby.

8. Introduce bottle-feeding two to four weeks before going back to work. By doing this, you can establish a pumping routine, allow your baby time to adjust to the bottle and give you a chance to see that your baby is able to feed from the bottle effectively. The above tips will help you a lot when you begin your journey of bottle-feeding your baby. Most of the time a baby will accept a bottle very well, but there are a few that can really make the transition frustrating. If you are having a difficult time introducing bottles or your baby does not seem to be feeding as well with a bottle, please enlist the help of a breastfeeding expert.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I hope you found this information helpful. If you want advice on a specific topics please feel free to write a comment and I can address your needs in future posts.

When and how to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby

Wondering how to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby? Wait until 3 to 4 weeks postpartum to ensure your milk supply is well established. Have someone else make the first few attempts if possible. If your baby won't take the bottle, try varying the bottle and nipple temperature, moving around, and switching positions. Though some breastfed babies reject bottles vociferously, which can be a real challenge for parents and caregivers, many will come around.

You may be planning to give your breastfed baby bottles because you're pumping breast milk, supplementing with formula, or switching to formula feeding. The transition can be tricky, but there are ways to make it easier. Here's what you need to know to successfully introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby.

When to introduce the bottle to your breastfed baby

If you're breastfeeding, most experts suggest waiting until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and breastfeeding is well established before introducing a bottle. In addition to helping launch your milk supply, waiting a few weeks helps reduce the risk of nipple confusion, or a preference for bottles over the breast.

Exactly when to first introduce the bottle varies depending on whether you're bottle feeding because you'll be separated from your baby, or because you need to add formula to your routine.

If you're returning to work after maternity leave, start bottle-feeding several weeks before you go back. That way, you'll have plenty of time for them to adjust to the bottle.

If you're pumping breast milk, you'll want to keep up your milk supply by pumping every time your baby has a bottle. If you can, use a double electric breast pump: It's the most efficient way to express milk and stimulate milk production. (These are usually free through insurance.)

If breastfeeding isn't going according to plan for you and you're thinking about supplementing your baby's diet with formula or switching to exclusively formula feeding, try talking with a lactation consultant before making any big changes. A lactation consultant can assess why you're having trouble breastfeeding and offer tricks to address challenges.

But there's no need to feel guilty if you make the switch to formula: Healthy and happy babies can be formula-fed or breastfed. Focus on nourishing your baby and giving them the love, attention, and cuddles they need to thrive.

How to bottle feed a baby

Sucking milk from a bottle requires different mouth and tongue movements than breastfeeding, so it may take your baby a little time to get used to the change. Try these tips for a smooth transition.

Offer a bottle in place of a regular feeding. Choose a time that your baby tends to not be too fussy at mealtime – say, in the morning. The amount of formula or breast milk you'll need to give at each feeding varies depending on your baby's age and weight. Our articles on how much formula and breast milk babies need break it down for you, and you can always ask your pediatrician for a recommendation if you're not sure.

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Or, offer the bottle after a regular feeding. If you're especially anxious about offering the bottle, or if your baby balked at the bottle in place of the breast on your first attempt, you may want to get them used to the nipple by offering the bottle an hour or two after they're already fed. That way your baby won't be frenzied for food and may be more open to experimenting with a new food source. Start with a small amount of breast milk – about 1/2 ounce.

Let someone else feed them the first bottle. If you try to give your baby their first bottle, they may wonder why they're not getting your breast. They may be less confused if someone else makes the introduction. Ask your partner, a grandparent, a childcare provider, or a friend to help. Choose a spot other than where you regularly breastfeed.

Make sure the bottle is the right temperature. Breastfed babies can be particular about the warmth of their milk; many prefer milk that's the temperature of your body or a bath (about 98 degrees Fahrenheit). You can soak the bottle in a bowl of hot water or use a bottle warmer to bring it up to temperature.

Stay away. A baby can smell their mother, even from a distance, so they may know that you (and your breasts) are nearby. If your baby refuses a bottle with you nearby, try going to a different room during feedings.

Don't force it. The first time you introduce the bottle, don't force the nipple into your baby's mouth. Try tickling your baby's upper lip and nose with the nipple and then letting your baby "latch" onto the nipple as they would with your breast. If your baby seems frustrated or hasn't eaten anything after 10 minutes, stop and try again the next day.

Try paced (or responsive, or cue-based) feeding. This method slows down the flow of milk to mimic breastfeeding and reduce the chances that your baby will drink too much. Use a slow-flow nipple, keep the bottle horizontal, pause every 20 to 30 seconds during feedings, and switch sides as you would when breastfeeding. Stop feeding your baby when they show signs of being full, which include not sucking anymore and turning away from the bottle. Research suggests a responsive feeding style encourages healthy eating habits that last well beyond the bottle.

Bond with your baby. Talk to your baby and look into their eyes as you bottle-feed to bond and help them feel secure. You can even take off your shirt for skin-to-skin contact, which helps babies to relax while stimulating digestion and interest in feeding, among other benefits.

Be patient. It may take a while for your baby to accept the bottle.

Be consistent. Babies love routines, so aim to give the bottle the same time every day.

What to do if your baby won't take a bottle

Some babies take to the bottle without much fuss, but others struggle quite a bit with the transition.

Make sure you have lots of time and take it slow during this process. If your baby starts crying and pushes the bottle away, back off, comfort them, and then try again. If you've tried offering the bottle several times and your baby seems frustrated, or if they refuse to eat for 10 minutes, let it go for now. (Wait at least five minutes before breastfeeding after an unsuccessful bottle-feeding – that way they won't associate refusing the bottle with immediate gratification.)

Offer the bottle again in an hour or two, when your baby is alert and receptive but not very hungry.

If your baby is having a hard time, try these techniques:

  • Test a few different nipples. Babies can be very particular about bottle nipples. If you've tried the bottle a couple of times and your baby still refuses to eat, test out a few other options. Your baby may prefer a wide-based nipple, which more closely simulates the breast. Or your baby may accept a nipple that's similar to the pacifier they use (if you use one), so try giving them a nipple that's the same shape or made out of the same material as the pacifier.
  • Change the temperature of the nipple. If your baby is teething, they may prefer a nipple that's been chilled in the fridge. Otherwise, try warming the nipple under running water.
  • Introduce breast milk outside of the bottle. Put a few drops of breast milk on your baby's lips or the nipple before feeding them from a bottle, to give them a preview of what's to come. When your baby tastes it, they may start sucking to get more.
  • Let your baby play with the nipple so they can get familiar with it. If your baby just chews on it at first, don't worry. They may actually start sucking on it soon.
  • Hold them in a different position during the feeding. Put your baby in an infant or car seat so they're semi-upright, and then feed them the bottle while you're facing each other. Or try feeding them on your lap with their back to your chest. Once your baby is used to taking a bottle, you can hold them in a more standard feeding position.
  • Move around. Try walking or lightly bouncing your baby. Gentle, rhythmic movement may encourage them to take the bottle.
  • Try different temperatures. Your baby might prefer milk that's slightly warmer or colder. Experiment with different temperatures to see what they prefer.
  • Check the taste. Expressed breast milk sometimes has a soapy taste, so you may want to try a drop.
  • Offer the bottle at other times of day. If your baby won't take the bottle during the day, offer it during a nighttime feeding or vice versa.

If your baby is still refusing the bottle

For most babies, bottle refusal is a short-lived developmental step. That's why it's best to give everyone time to transition by introducing the bottle well before you have to go back to work or otherwise be separated from your baby.

If your baby continues to refuse the bottle, keep trying: It can be frustrating, but your baby may eventually accept it. Until they do, you may have to make serious adjustments to your life. Some working moms have had to extend their maternity leave, change jobs, work from home with a nanny or sitter, or visit their child's daycare every two to three hours to breastfeed their bottle-refusing baby. 

If you've tried everything, don't blame yourself if your baby still won't bottle-feed. Some babies never take to the bottle – but talk to your child's doctor to rule out a medical reason.

Some babies can learn to drink from an open cup or a sippy cup instead of a bottle. Make sure your baby can hold their head up on their own before trying (usually around 4 to 6 months), though, to reduce the risk of choking. Here's how to start using a sippy cup:

  • Support your baby's head and shoulders with your arm and sit them upright in your lap.
  • Place the cup on your baby's lower lip and tilt it until the milk or formula is close to their lips.
  • Wait until your baby laps up the milk with their tongue, which may take a few minutes. Don't pour the milk straight into your baby's mouth.
  • Continue to offer the milk until your baby turns away their head or offers other cues that they're finished.
  • You may want to try this method first with another adult for practice. Once you're ready to test it out on your baby, be prepared with a bib and burp cloth nearby to wipe up spills.

How to properly bottle feed

Feeding your baby is not only an important process for healthy growth and development, but also a way to establish close emotional contact with the baby and build trusting and loving relationships. The transition from breastfeeding to bottle feeding should be carried out after the mother and the child are fully prepared for this. We are talking about both the moral aspect, and about choosing the right bottle and getting adults the necessary skills so that eating brings only positive emotions and benefits to the baby. In this article, we will talk more about how to properly bottle feed your baby and where to start. nine0003

How to prepare your baby for bottle feeding

If this method of feeding is a completely new experience for the baby, or if parents decide to bottle feed their baby from a very young age, slow flow nipples should be preferred. So you protect the child from the possibility of choking while eating. Over time, you can gradually switch to bottles with nipples, which would provide faster and more intense feeding.

Feeding bottle selection and daily care

All baby accessories should be kept clean and sterilized regularly and thoroughly.

There are several ways to sterilize dishes:

  • select the appropriate mode when using the dishwasher;
  • or place the bottle and teat in a vessel of boiling water for 5 minutes.

Before using this method of cleaning the bottle, make sure that the material it is made of can be exposed to high temperatures. Since some types of plastic contain various chemicals in their composition, after sterilization they can become dangerous for their little user. For this reason, experts recommend choosing glass bottles. nine0003

The need for thorough cleansing of everything that the baby will touch is caused by the fact that in the first months of life, the child's immune system is just beginning to strengthen. Before sterilizing the teat, it can be cleaned with dishwashing detergent. There are special products for washing children's dishes, without a strong odor and with a safe composition.

How to bottle feed your baby

Before starting a meal, mom or dad should wash their hands well with soap and warm running water. Particular attention should be paid to the area between the fingers and under the nails. The hand washing process should take at least 20 seconds. And after carrying out this hygienic procedure, hands should be wiped dry with a paper towel or clean towel. nine0003

The next step is to prepare for the meal. If you plan to fill the bottle with formula, then dilute it with water in accordance with the instructions in the instructions. Improper proportions can lead to dehydration or bloating. It should also be remembered that for the preparation of the mixture you need to use only clean drinking water.

Breast milk is the most beneficial for a newborn. Despite this, pediatricians advise breastfeeding babies for as long as possible. Even if the mother is ready to give up breastfeeding, milk can be expressed into a bottle and gradually accustom the baby to the nipple. If, for one reason or another, the mother does not have the opportunity to feed herself, then the only alternative is feeding with a special mixture. nine0003

In the first six months after birth, cow's or goat's milk or its substitute in the form of soy milk should not be included in the baby's diet. Valid options for supporting healthy development of a newborn are breast milk or formula milk only.

What temperature should the bottle filler be? Under no circumstances should the bottle be heated on the stove or in the microwave.

If the temperature of the bottle and its filling exceed 37°C, the baby may be burned. It is recommended to use special bottle warmers. If this is not possible, then use the following method:

  • put a saucepan on the stove with a little water;
  • bring the water to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat;
  • place a bottle of milk in a vessel and heat it up to 37◦С;
  • check the temperature with a pre-cleaned thermometer or a special device for measuring the temperature of foodstuffs.

You can also check the temperature of the ready-to-use bottle as follows:

  • turn the bottle over;
  • drip several times into your wrist area.

In this way, you can check not only the temperature of the milk or formula, but also how well the liquid flows out of the bottle. If you have to shake or squeeze the bottle hard to drip, the nipple is blocked and needs to be cleaned out. If, on the contrary, the filler pours out when the bottle is turned over, this means that the nipple is damaged and another nipple should be used to feed the baby, having previously sterilized it. nine0003

How to bottle feed your baby lying down

There are several techniques for feeding your baby. However, it is the feeding of the child lying down from the bottle that young parents consider the most comfortable. It is worth noting that eating in this position will only be safe when the baby's head is slightly raised. Otherwise, the child may simply choke. In the prone position, the child should be placed on his arm bent at the elbow. After feeding, you should place the baby in an upright position, taking him in your arms and putting his stomach to your chest. nine0003

Make sure that the feeding bottle is closed correctly: the ring at the connection of the nipple to the bottle must not be too tight. Air must enter the bottle, otherwise a vacuum will be created there, which, in turn, will complicate the consumption of food for the child.

How to bottle feed without spitting up

Since the newborn is not able to fully control the process of feeding, along with milk, he can also take in air. This may be the reason that at one meal the child could not master the planned portion. In view of this, it is recommended to take small breaks during feeding. nine0003

As soon as you notice that the baby has stopped sucking on the pacifier, is tired or thoughtful, pick him up and press his face to you, holding his head and back. To help burp excess air, you can make a light massage between the shoulder blades, pat on the back or pope.

The air will quickly rise up and the baby will burp it without any extra effort. However, you should be prepared for the fact that, along with the air, part of the consumed mixture or milk may also return. Therefore, before taking the baby in your arms, cover yourself with a diaper, because it will be easier to wash it than clothes. nine0003

Never leave your baby alone with the bottle or let him fall asleep while using it. After eating, mom or dad must help their child burp. This will help to avoid colic, bloating and other manifestations of stomach discomfort.

Where to buy baby accessories

It's safe to say that I Love Mommy online store is one of the best places to buy baby food. Our catalogs feature products from world-famous brands, the quality of which you will not have to doubt for a minute. Bottles, baby dishes, pacifiers, baby bibs - all this and much more you can buy for your son or daughter from us at affordable prices in just a few minutes. nine0003

Feeding expressed milk | breastfeeding

When can I start breastfeeding my baby with expressed breast milk? How to do it right? Is it worth worrying that the child will confuse the pacifier with the breast? In this article we will answer your questions.

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When can I start breastfeeding my baby?

If your baby is healthy and breastfeeding well, there is no need to give him expressed milk. For the first four weeks, you work together to start and increase milk production, and your baby also learns to suckle properly at the breast. There is not enough scientific data on this yet, 1 but there is an opinion that bottle feeding in the first month may adversely affect the process of establishing breastfeeding.

However, if the newborn is unable to latch on or suckle for some reason, start expressing milk as soon as possible after delivery. Read more about this in our articles on coping with problems in the first week, breastfeeding premature babies and babies with special needs, and seeking help from your healthcare provider. nine0003

How can I feed my baby with expressed breast milk?

There are many expert feeding solutions that allow you to give your baby expressed milk in a variety of ways, depending on your and your baby's needs.

For example, the innovative Calma smart pacifier only lets milk through when the baby creates a vacuum by suckling. This means that when feeding from a bottle, he will make the same movements with his tongue and jaws as when sucking at the breast. 2.3 Calma was developed with the help of breastfeeding experts from the University of Western Australia. When using this pacifier, the baby can suck, swallow, pause and breathe in the same way as when breastfeeding. 4 Maintaining natural sucking habits allows baby to transition easily from breast to bottle and back.

In addition, Medela also offers regular bottle teats* in two versions that produce milk at different rates. All Medela* nipples can be placed directly on bottles used for expressing milk, minimizing the risk of spillage. nine0003

If you need to feed your baby with expressed milk, but you do not want to bottle feed him until he is learning to breastfeed, you can use a sippy cup* for temporary feeding. The baby will be able to drink milk from such a mug, but you should be careful not to spill the milk. For the first time, it is advisable to feed the child from a drinking cup under the supervision of the attending physician in order to learn how to do it correctly.

If your baby needs to be supplemented with expressed milk in addition to regular breastfeeding, the Supplementary Feeding System (SNS)* can be used. It is equipped with a thin, flexible capillary that can be clipped close to the nipple to give your baby expressed milk while breastfeeding. Thanks to this, the baby suckles the breast for longer, thereby developing sucking skills and stimulating the production of milk from the mother. This can be helpful when there is a shortage of breast milk, as well as when feeding adopted or surrogate children. nine0003

If the baby is unable to breastfeed because he is too weak or has a congenital disease, you can use the Special Needs Cup*, which releases milk with gentle pressure, making it suitable for feeding these babies.

How to teach a child to bottle feed?

If breastfeeding is going well and you decide to start bottle feeding your baby with expressed breast milk, follow these guidelines.

Start early and take your time

Don't wait until the first day of work or the first time you leave the house to bottle feed your baby. Start accustoming your baby to small portions of expressed milk a couple of weeks before the desired date, calmly and without haste. Gradually build up to one full serving of pumped milk from a bottle.

Choose a time

Ideally, at the first bottle feeding, the baby should be hungry, but not too hungry - in this state, he is as relaxed as possible. nine0003

Let others feed

Your baby is used to feeding from your breast, so when you offer him a bottle it can be confusing. The process can go faster if the first time the baby is bottle-fed by someone else while you are not in the room, so that your sight and smell do not embarrass the baby.

Maintain optimal temperature

Your baby will be more willing to eat expressed milk if the temperature is around 37°C, close to body temperature. nine0003

Dip the nipple in milk

Try dipping the nipple in expressed milk before offering it to your baby. This way it will taste and smell like your breast milk. Lightly touch the baby's upper lip with the nipple to open the mouth.

Choose the right position for bottle feeding

Feed your baby on demand and keep him reclining during feeding. Never bottle feed your baby when he is lying or sitting, otherwise he may choke. Listen to the wishes of the child - take as many pauses as he needs. You can even try to shift it from one hand to another during feeding. nine0003

Be patient

Don't worry if your baby doesn't take the bottle right away - it may take several tries. If he pushes the bottle away or starts crying, calm him down, wait a few minutes and try again. If he still doesn't want to bottle feed, wait a few more minutes and breastfeed him as usual. Repeat the bottle experiment at a different time of day.

How much pumped milk should I give my baby? nine0005

All children are different. Research shows that between the ages of one and six months, a baby can consume between 50 and 230 ml of milk per feeding. To start, prepare about 60 ml and observe how much your baby needs - more or less. You will soon realize how much milk he usually eats. Just never force him to finish the cooked portion.

How can I keep my baby safe when bottle feeding?

Always clean and sterilize your pump and bottles according to the manufacturer's instructions. Wash your hands before expressing, pouring milk, and feeding your baby. Follow our instructions for safely storing and thawing your expressed milk. nine0003

If breastmilk needs to be warmed, place the bottle or bag in a bowl of warm water or a heater or under running water at a maximum of 37°C. Never heat breast milk in the microwave or on the stove.

Will the baby be able to transition from breast to bottle?

Some mothers worry that if they start bottle feeding too early, they will get used to the artificial nipple and not want to breastfeed. Others, on the contrary, are worried that if the child is not immediately accustomed to the bottle, then he will no longer eat from it. In general, in these cases, they say that the child confuses the nipple with the breast. nine0003

Experts disagree on whether such confusion is a problem. 1 Without a doubt, it is easier for a baby to suckle milk from a regular bottle with a nipple, which does not require a vacuum, than from the breast, since the milk flows faster, also under the influence of gravity. And some babies really have clear preferences: only the breast or only the nipple. However, many babies are comfortable suckling both the breast and the pacifier.

If you are unable to feed your baby with expressed breast milk, seek help from a lactation consultant or specialist. nine0003


1 Zimmerman E, Thompson K. Clarifying nipple confusion. J. Perinatol. 2015;35(11):895-899. - Zimmerman I., Thompson K., "On the issue of breastfeeding." J Perinatol (Journal of Perinatology). 2015;35(11):895-899.

2 Geddes DT et al. Tongue movement and intra-oral vacuum of term infants during breastfeeding and feeding from an experimental teat that released milk under vacuum only.

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