How to introduce the bottle to your baby

A lactation consultant offers tips for breastfeeding-to-bottle success

How to introduce the bottle to your baby

Although breastfeeding may be preferred or more enjoyable, there may come a time when you need to be away from your baby or transition back to work and need to use an alternative feeding method to nourish your baby.

Whatever your reason, the question remains the same: When and how do you introduce your baby to a bottle? Lois Sommers, a Sanford Health nurse and lactation consultant, offers the following advice.

First of all, introduce a bottle only after you have been breastfeeding your baby exclusively for at least two to four weeks, unless otherwise medically indicated.

This allows your body to establish milk production and helps your baby avoid “nipple confusion” between the breast and the artificial nipple. Introducing a bottle for substitute or supplementary feedings prior to two to four weeks has also been found to contribute to decreased milk production.

If supplementation in the early weeks is necessary, be sure to stay in close contact with a lactation consultant to initiate a plan to support your milk supply.

Find support: Lactation specialists at Sanford Health

Starting with one bottle daily

If you plan to return to work, it is in your best interest to begin introducing at least one bottle of expressed milk daily at two to four weeks of age or once milk supply is established to decrease chances of baby rejecting the bottle.

It is important to stimulate your breasts whenever baby bottle feeds to ensure you protect your milk supply. As you transition back to work, your baby will slowly adjust to bottle feeding more frequently.

If your baby struggles with bottle feeding, be sure to reach out to the baby’s health care provider. A lactation consultant may also be able to assist with bottle feeding education.

If your baby struggles or refuses to take a bottle from their lactating parent, it can help to have your partner or someone else give the bottle initially. Having someone else bottle feed the baby also can be helpful with this transition.

If your baby struggles with the bottle, you may have to experiment with different styles and nipple flow rates. Some bottles and bottle nipples are more compatible with breastfeeding. If you are having difficulties, ask your pediatrician or a lactation consultant for recommendations.

Choosing and using a breast pump

If you are planning to spend time away from baby or return to work, it is important to plan ahead and determine a plan for expressing milk.

Due to the numerous breast pumps on the market, it is important to research options that will fit your needs.

Be sure to reach out to your health insurance provider to determine breast pump coverage. Reaching out to your lactation resources may also help guide your decision.

Prior to returning to work, determine a place to express milk. Many employers have implemented lactation rooms or have designated areas for lactating employees.

After you express your milk, be sure to determine the best method of storage.

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Posted In Children's, Health Information, Nutrition, Parenting, Pregnancy, Women's