Updated July 17, 2015
When mothers return to work or school, they are oftentimes faced with a new reality: Learning how to bottle-feed their breastfed baby. Ultimately, bottle-feeding a breastfed baby should ensure that the baby gets the nutrients he needs and that breastfeeding is fully supported.
Contrary to product advertisements, there are no bottle nipples that look or feel exactly like a mother’s breast; nor are there any that replicate the shape, or feel, or function of a mother’s breast.
The “best” feeding bottle and bottle nipple is the one your baby will accept. Expect your baby to refuse everything but the real thing (his mother’s breast) at first knowing that over time your baby will be less choosy.
Try one of several different kinds of bottle nipples (slow-flow, fast-slow, wide base, narrow base, firm, flexible) until you find one your baby will accept. Specific flow nipples are designed for certain abilities as opposed to certain ages. If your baby has difficulty coordinating sucking, swallowing, and breathing, you may find that a slow-flow nipple is helpful. While a slow-flow nipple may give a baby more control over the feeding, it may also frustrate a baby who is accustomed to a faster flow. However, flow that is too fast can make it difficult for your baby to breathe. Signs that milk is flowing too fast include: choking, coughing, or sputtering; milk dripping out of your baby’s mouth; creases in your baby’s forehead or clenched fists. Ideally, your baby will take to the flow rate (slow, medium, fast) that matches his sucking skills.
Learn to bottle-feed the “right” way
One study suggests that learning to bottle-feed the “right way” may be more important than choosing the “right bottle nipple.” As long as the flow of milk matches your baby’s ability to suck, swallow, and breathe, your baby will eventually learn to accept milk from something other than your breast. The following bottle-feeding tips should make the transition from breast-to-bottle-to-breast easier for mom, baby, and caregiver:
If all else fails, ditch the bottle and get out the cup, teaspoon, medicine dropper, or hollow-handled medicine spoon.
By responding to a baby’s ability to suck, swallow, and breathe in a coordinated way, your caregiver will be able to satisfy your baby’s nutritional needs and support your continued breastfeeding.
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