Our postnatal expert MELINDA HUNT answers common questions about babies, pregnancy, parenting and more. Here, she discusses bottle-feeding and when is the right time to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby.
Why mums make the transition
Mothers choose to introduce a bottle to their breastfed babies – in the form of expressed breast milk or formula – for a whole number of very personal and practical reasons. These include:
- Returning to work and being unable to be physically present to breastfeed bubba.
- Desiring to share the responsibility of feeding and/or caregiving with a partner who may also yearn to be more involved with baby and partake in bottle-feeding as a bonding process.
- Choosing to introduce the bottle to free up some independence and gain the ability to go out for extended periods of time.
- Combating breastfeeding issues such as sore and cracked nipples, mastitis, excessive tiredness and a fussy/colicky baby; the bottle can offer some respite from many of these obstacles.
- Dealing with little sweethearts who also happen to be very hungry bubbas, and who might just be satisfied with the addition of a bottle a day or a top-up at witching hour.
Taking the next step
All this said and done, it’s absolutely your choice when to introduce the bottle; but there are a few things to keep in mind before you make that next step.
- The best window of opportunity to introduce the bottle tends to be between two and four weeks of age. Once the latch has been established, feeding is going well and baby is putting on weight, consider introducing an artificial nipple. If you’ll be going back to work and transitioning to some bottle feeds while you’re absent, it’s important to introduce the bottle in this window in case baby rejects it later on.
- Once you’ve introduced the bottle, you can continue to breastfeed and offer a bottle a few times a week, or once a day; that way, baby can practice and be reminded how to suck on the artificial nipple. If baby starts to reject the breast and seems to have a preference for the bottle, cut back on bottle feeds; instead, hunker down with the breastfeeding for a few days.
- To keep baby from rejecting the breast, offer bottles with a slow-flowing nipple and pace; mimic your feeds as you would when breastfeeding. The idea is to make baby work just as hard while feeding with the bottle as they would breastfeeding.
- Remember, it’s always important to ask for help if you’re struggling with your breastfeeding and bottle-feeding journey. A well-trained maternity nurse, lactation specialist or counsellor can guide you through this transition and offer the mentoring and support you need.
Melinda Maternity is a bespoke postnatal care and night nurse service. Melinda brings first-hand experience and professional advice on topics from feeding and settling to basic baby care.
5177 7240 | melindamaternity.com
This article first appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.