How to bottle feed a baby

Bottle feeding in a breastfeeding friendly way – Transcript


I fully understand if you are a breastfeeding mother, and you need that flexibility to give some of your expressed milk by another means – and if you’ve looked at the alternative ways of offering breast milk, and still feel that you’d rather give a bottle, then you might want to consider using the technique called paced bottle feeding.

And recently, many lactation specialists and experts have been looking at ways of replicating the biological way of feeding, because if you think about it, the biological way to feed a baby: you watch for your baby’s feeding cues, you bring him close, you allow your baby to feed as and when he wants. It’s also not just about nutrition, but about relationship building as well.

Now, historically, when babies were given milk via a bottle, it tended to be far more scheduled feeding, but of course it’s important that you follow your baby’s feeding cues, even with bottle feeding.

So when we would talk about positions for feeding your baby, we know that breastfed babies can feed in hundreds of positions, anywhere around the clock face – but it’s important that when you hold your baby for feeding from a bottle you must hold your baby upright while bottle feeding, with his body close against yours. This gives you a good opportunity for all that lovely closeness – but it’s certainly important not to allow your baby to drink from a bottle when lying down. We know there is certainly an increased risk of ear infections in this situation.

Baby with milk bottleAnd another point is to offer your baby a bottle with a slow flow teat rather than a fast flow. Now, historically, we may have been tempted to suggest a medium flow, and then a fast floor, BUT it was unnatural for babies to take milk so fast. It’s important that your baby works hard to get that milk, and is in far more control of that intake of milk.

And another way to help your baby to be more in control is to allow lots of pauses throughout the feed so that your baby isn’t just gulping down that milk in two seconds flat. So first of all it’s a really good idea to allow the teat of the bottle to sit in that little area under your baby’s nose and allow your baby to draw the teat into his mouth, in the same way that you would do when he is drawing the breast in – and by doing this you are allowing your baby to feel in control of that feed in the way that he would be at the breast.

So the main aim is to allow the teat to be filled with milk, but at the same time you can almost have the bottle horizontal, and you can encourage frequent pauses, while your baby drinks from the bottle, to mimic what happens at the breast, with all these let downs of milk – and you can imagine that this will discourage your baby from guzzling down that milk so fast and overriding his feelings of fullness.

As you can imagine the feed is likely to take a lot longer using this technique, but it will replicate a lot more closely the biological way.

We do know that babies at the breast regulate their intake of milk really well and they don’t tend to override their feelings of fullness, but with the bottle, it is an artificial way, and it’s easier for babies to do that. So this technique is excellent at helping your baby to be far more in control.

And babies tend to know when they feel full and when they’ve had enough, so when this happens try not to be tempted to offer more of the bottle, which historically many many mothers did.

When your baby is feeding at the breast, he tends to feed from one side and then another side, and this encourages his eye development, and it’s not something that we tend to think about very much, but you can imagine when you’re feeding from a bottle you tend to feed just from one particular side. So try to replicate what happens in normal biology – maybe half way through the feed, swapping your baby over and encouraging that eye development.

I do appreciate that there are loads of bottles on the market and it’s very difficult to know what sort of bottle is the best one for your baby, but if your baby can feed in a relaxed way and in a calm way, and slowly with that particular type of bottle, then that’s a good one and that’s probably the most that we can say on that matter.

Mother bottle feeding babySo if you are offering expressed milk (expressing and storage of milk videos)as well as breast feeding you can be assured that if your baby is gaining weight fine, according to his centile chart, and producing a minimum of six wet nappies per day, generally, – we know the pooing will change as your baby gets older. Look at the videos relating to that just so that you are assured that your baby is getting enough (reliable signs) with the combined feeding.(mixed feeding)

And finally, bear in mind that when you’re feeding your baby at the breast, and also with the bottle, it’s important that your baby has that primary most important person offering that to him. I do appreciate that many family members and friends are keen to offer bottles to your baby as well, but please bear in mind that offering baby’s milk from breast or bottle is all about relationship building and we know that’s important for brain development – so it’s better that babies just have one or two people who are doing this, and ensure that they know how to do that in a biological way.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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