Many babies drink from a bottle at some stage. Whether it’s time to move on to milk, you’re introducing water or formula, or simply want the flexibility of expressing, the option of using a bottle to feed can be very handy. However, it can be trickier than you think.
When it comes to their food delivery device, some tiny tots can be fussy little bubbas. After all, they may have spent months with a functioning, familiar and purpose-built supply system, otherwise known as your breasts, and they might be pretty unwilling to give them up, even just for the occasional feed.
But you’re not alone! Our friends at NUK have helped us put together this handy guide, to help you bottle feed a breastfed baby.
1. Time it right
The first time you introduce a bottle pick a time during the day when you are both happy and relaxed. Bub has a clean nappy and is all cuddly and cosy. You don’t want the first bottle to replace a breastfeed when they are ravenously hungry, rather offer it as a ‘snack’ between feeds.
2. Use a breast-friendly bottle
When it comes to baby bottles, not all are created equal – they come in lots of different shapes and sizes. So it just makes sense that a bottle fitted with a teat modelled on a mother’s nipple will make feeding easier. Your little milk monster is more likely to accept something that’s familiar. And it reduces the risk of nipple confusion (where bottle feeding can affect your baby’s ability to continue sucking from a breast) and makes it easier to continue breastfeeding.
The NUK Natures Sense bottle is clinically proven to facilitate the problem-free switching of bottle and breastfeeding with no nipple confusion. The special NUK shape is as close to the real thing as you can get. It leaves your baby’s tongue and jaw enough room for natural sucking movements. And with its new soft zone, the silicone baglet is a better fit against the roof of your baby’s mouth – giving a natural feeling while drinking.
3. Let someone else give bub their first bottle
Your milk ninja has quite a nose for their mumma’s milk and will head straight to the source given a chance. So if someone else gives bub their first bottle, they don’t have a chance to try for your breasts instead of the bottle. You may even want to stay in another room to avoid distracting them with your milk makers.
4. Let your baby play with the bottle
Your bub might take a little while to get used to the bottle, so be patient. If they want to play with the bottle, or even chew the nipple, let them for now. It helps them get familiar with it and soon they might start to suck. Just let them take it in their own time and let them take control of when the feed begins rather than trying to force it.
You can also try gently stroking bub’s lips from top to bottom with the teat to encourage a rooting response of a wide open mouth. Then gently, let them draw the teat into their mouth rather than pushing it in.
5. Safely warm the bottle
Bub is used to drinking breastmilk at body temperature so it makes sense to warm bottle milk too. The NUK Thermo Express Bottle Warmer heats breast milk to 37 degrees in just 90 seconds!
6. Try and try again
If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. And if something’s not working, you can experiment with making a little change after a few tries. Some babies respond to being fed in a different position than breastfeeding, like leaning against you or in a car seat. Or if you’ve only offered a bottle during the day, try it at night for a while.
7. Keep calm and carry on
Above all, relax and don’t force it. If you’ve offered your cherub the bottle three times in a row and they still refuse, give them a few minutes of cuddles then return to breastfeeding if they’re hungry and try again tomorrow. Most babies get it eventually and many women successfully combine bottle and breastfeeding.
And an extra tip if you’re keen to keep breastfeeding but worried about bub becoming too fond of the bottle – some mums like to simulate the natural rhythm of breastfeeding. Encourage frequent pauses while bub drinks from the bottle to mimic your let-down patterns. This can help stop your hungry bear guzzling the bottle and can also help reduce nipple confusion or a preference for the bottle.
The NUK Nature Sense range is available online and instore at Baby Bunting (from $11.95).
This post is sponsored.