There are various reasons new moms may decide to introduce a bottle or supplement their breastfeeding with a bottle. This includes heading back to work, allowing other family members to feed the baby (especially during those night feedings), daycare, and more. Once breastfeeding is well established, here are some helpful tips for introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby for a seamless transition for parents and babies.
1. Find the right bottle.
Try a few bottles that suit your baby. We are using the Nanobébé bottles in this video. Nanobébé has two bottles, and both are designed to aid transition between breast and bottle and have a good, slow flow nipple to set the pace and keep a great latch.
2. Choose the right time.
If you plan to introduce a bottle, don’t wait too long. If you wait too long, your baby may refuse the bottle because they prefer the breast. It’s recommended to introduce a bottle to your baby at around 4 weeks old.
3. Have the breast milk or formula at body temperature, 37°C (98.6°F).
You don’t want your breast milk or formula to be too hot or too cold for the baby. Body temperature is the perfect temperature for introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby.
4. Don’t wait until your baby is hungry.
We recommend waiting until your baby is calm and alert, and almost ready for a feeding. If they are tired, really hungry, and crying, they won’t be willing to try something new.
5. Put breast milk on the nipple.
Dip the bottle nipple into your expressed breast milk before offering it to your baby. Then gently stimulate your baby’s top lip with the nipple to encourage her to open her mouth. The smell of your breastmilk and the stimulation of the bottle nipple on their lips will encourage your baby to open her mouth and take the bottle nipple.
6. Try different positions and different places.
Holding your baby in a different position and sitting in a different place other than your nursing station can help.
7. Have someone else give your baby the bottle.
If your baby is frustrated when you offer a bottle because she wants to breastfeed, have someone else give your baby the bottle. This can be your partner, a grandparent, or another caregiver. You should also stay away in another room so your baby can’t see or smell you.
8. Don’t rush it. Be patient.
It’s okay if your baby doesn’t take to the bottle right away. It may take a few tries. That’s why it’s important to introduce the bottle at least a few weeks before you go back to work or an important night away like a wedding, bachelorette party, or birthday party. Just be patient. You can try another day.
Those are our tips for how to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby successfully.