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For both infants and moms who are used to nursing from the breast, the transition to bottle feeding can be full of questions and difficulties.
Paced bottle feeding is the easiest way to bottle feed a breastfed baby and likewise, switch a bottle-fed infant over to breastfeeding.
The latching and suckling motions that a baby makes when feeding from your breast and when feeding from a bottle are completely different.
When feeding from the breast, a baby has to work at a nipple to get milk to flow out.
With a bottle, the action is more passive as milk naturally gushes out of the teat when the bottle is tipped.
This can lead to feeding problems like choking and colic when a baby who is used to nursing from the breast is given a bottle for the first time.
In the reverse situation, once a baby is used to the easy flow from a bottle, she can suffer from nipple confusion and have difficulty latching and suckling at the breast.
Caregivers can minimize the problems that come with going back and forth from breast to bottle by following the Paced technique.
Paced bottle feeding is a method of giving a bottle that mimics giving milk from the breast as close as possible. This is done by:
- Controlling the flow of milk from the teat so it doesn’t flow too fast and choke your baby. A great way to do this is with slow flow teats and ‘natural’ bottles with wider teats like the Comotomo Natural Bottles and the Playtex Natural System. Hold the bottle horizontally rather than up at an angle as this will reduce the amount of milk flowing into the teat. In traditional bottle feeding, milk gushes out in spurts and this can force your baby to gulp down the milk to avoid choking.
- Giving expressed milk if possible to prevent confusion when your baby switches back to breastmilk.
- Feeding only when your baby signals that she’s hungry, instead of giving a bottle on a timed schedule.
- Holding your baby in an upright position while she is feeding and holding her upright at times when she is not given a bottle. This helps train her to be held even when she isn’t being fed. Never give a bottle while she is lying down by herself as this can lead to cavities and ear infections.
- Switch which side you’re holding the bottle during each feeding. This keeps your baby from developing a side preference which can cause problems when she returns to feeding from your breast.
- Mimic your breastfeeding sessions and limit bottle feeding to 20 minutes at most. Aim for a time that’s as close to your nursing sessions as possible rather than trying to finish the whole bottle. Adjust the amount of milk you put in the bottle to how much your baby can eat in that time period. A good amount to start with is 2 ounces of milk. Most breastfed babies only take in 2 to 3 ounces of milk during each nursing session.
- Elicit a suckling reflex from your baby by teasing her lips with the bottle teat and let her draw it into her mouth by herself. Letting your baby root for the teat rather than forcing it into her mouth will prevent problems with latching on when she returns to nursing from your breast.
- Give your baby breaks during her bottle feeding. The goal is to mimic the natural pauses during breastfeeding when you have to wait for your let-down response. Also listen to her feeding pattern and give her a break to breathe in between sucks. Do this by tipping the bottle so milk flows away from the teat. She will indicate that she is ready for more milk by grabbing at the bottle or sucking at the teat. Doing this will greatly minimize problems with nipple confusion when you return to breastfeeding.
- Stop when your baby signals that she is full, even if there is milk left in the bottle. Your baby will let you know she is done by pushing the bottle teat out of her mouth and turning away. Do not try to shake every last drop of milk into her mouth, as this can alter satiety signals, give her a colicky stomach, and teach her to overeat and become overweight.
Paced bottle feeding video demonstration
By listening to your baby’s demands and hunger signals, you will avoid under or overfeeding her.
Paced bottle feeding will also help pumping mothers control the amount of milk that they express and avoid over producing milk (or losing their milk supply) as they will only need to express enough milk to meet their baby’s demands.
Paced feeding also minimizes the guilt that sometimes plague working mothers who would prefer to feed from the breast, but cannot do so due to time spent away from their baby. The Paced bottle feeding method mimics your nursing sessions as close as possible without you being there and feeding your baby at your breast and supports your breastfeeding efforts. It will also minimize the trauma and problems that you will face when you switch from bottle back to breast even though you might have been separated from your baby for a long time.
I’m Jane and this is my project to chronicle everything I’ve learned as I raise my little one.