Welcome to this month's Carnival of Breastfeeding! June's theme is pumping, and since all that pumped milk has to go somewhere, I thought I'd write about breastfed babies and bottles. Be sure to check out the great posts from other bloggers on the topic of pumping at the bottom of this post.
Whether you're introducing a bottle because you're going back to work, or you want to share some feedings with your partner, there are some tips below that can help. I've also included some strategies for dealing with a baby who won't take a bottle.
Speaking of which, here's a great example of a baby who isn't at all interested in bottles. Thanks to Alicia for posting it!
Tips for introducing a bottle:
- Wait until roughly the end of the first month to try a bottle. Before that time, some (not all) babies develop a nipple or flow preference and may have a hard time latching on to the breast correctly, or even refuse it. The danger of this is greatest in the days and weeks right after birth.
- Don't wait too long, since at some point babies will reject the bottle. In my experience this happens most often with babies who haven't tried one by six weeks.
- If it's important that your baby be able to take a bottle (for example, you'll be returning to work), after introducing the bottle at four weeks, continue to re-introduce the bottle at least a few times a week. Don't go overboard with it, though. Up to a bottle a day is usually fine, but too many may cause latch difficulties or breast refusal.
- Have someone other than yourself introduce the bottle. Babies are smart, and some won't take one from you because they know you have the goods. Some books recommend that you stay out of the room when a bottle is given.
- Practice "paced feeding (halfway down page)," which helps the baby manage the flow of milk.
- Use a bottle nipple which is more like a breast (with a wide base), and use the slowest flow nipple at first. You'll probably also want to look for bottles that are BPA-free.
- If you're going back to work, gradually increase the frequency of bottle feedings so that your baby is solidly taking the bottle by the time you return to work.
Tips for babies who refuse bottles:
- Don't force it. This doesn't work, and often makes the situation worse. If your baby refuses, like the one in the video above, take a break and try again at a better time (see below).
- Experiment with different nipples, different size nipple openings (for flow). Try to match the nipple shape and flow with your own.
- Use distractions like movement, talking and singing, going outside. The Nursing Mother's Companion has a good picture of an outward-facing hold which seems to work for some babies.
- Try at times when the baby is sleepy, in a good mood, or not hungry. In general, the more hungry and distressed a baby is, the more "disorganized" he/she is likely to be. In that state a baby is less likely to do something new or difficult.
- Make sure that your milk doesn't taste or smell "soapy." This may mean that you have excess lipase in your milk.
- In a pinch, try other feeding devices, like a medicine cup, finger feeder, syringe feeder, or sippy cup.
- Know that your baby will be fine even if she/he only "sips" while you're gone. He/she will make up for it when the two of you are together, a pattern known as reverse cycling.
- Say to yourself, "this too shall pass."
Be sure to check out these great posts from our blogging friends (updated throughout the day):
- Raising Baby Bee writes about pumping at work (and shares a great 'do not disturb' sign).
- Breastfeeding Mums says "electrify me!"
- Breastfeeding 1-2-3 writes about exclusively pumping for a baby with a cleft palate.
- Hobo Mama writes about donating milk for an adopted baby.
- Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother shares her pumping tips.
- The Attached Mother writes about pumping and becoming a milk donor.
- Mama Knows Breast invites you to enter to win a free Medela Freestyle pump.
- Mike and Toni's writes about how a pumping experience turned into a business idea.