How do I get my breastfeeding baby to take a bottle with my milk?

How do I get my breastfeeding baby to take a bottle with my milk?

If you have to or want to give your breastfeeding baby pumped breast milk, you will most likely consider using a baby bottle. Baby bottles are the most well-known and socially accepted feeding method, but they are not the only way. What happens if there is no other choice and you have to give breast milk in a bottle?

These are some of the common questions that mothers and families have asked us:

My baby arches her back with all baby bottles. Will she ever get used to them?

Many babies who are exclusively breastfed and do not use a pacifier have a hard time getting used to a bottle. It often makes them arch their backs, and they find it difficult to drink from a bottle teat. Or they simply won’t even open their mouths to feed.

Babies have a gagging reflex in their mouths that protects them from choking. This reflex is activated when food or an object goes beyond the middle of the tongue. For that reason, the bottle nipple (or teat) usually feels disgusting to them when it is first in their mouth. As babies grow, this reflex becomes more delayed but is still present.

The only solution is to try not to let the bottle teat go too far into her mouth, but at the same time, this makes babies close their mouth too much to be able to suck and then do the same at the breast. You need to have a lot of patience so the baby gradually gets used to it.

Is an anatomical or round bottle teat better?

When the baby feeds at the breast, your nipple stretches out and becomes very long in your baby’s mouth, reaching the point where the hard palate meets the soft palate. Your nipple would only take on the shape of the so-called “anatomical bottle teats,” which are flat on one side when your baby is not sucking well. If your baby nurses effectively, then your nipple only gets longer inside the baby’s mouth. For breastfeeding babies, round or elongated 2cm (0.8 inches) bottle teats that are as soft as possible so as not to strain the baby’s oral structures are better. More on bottle brands here.

How can I get my baby to take a bottle?

If there is no other option but to give milk in a bottle, the most important thing is that the baby is seated, not lying down, and the bottle is as horizontal as possible so babies can better self-regulate the flow they receive. The baby can sit on the caregiver’s lap, then stimulate the sucking reflex with the bottle teat by touching the lips and cheeks of the baby and then wait for them to open their mouth and try to see if they suckle.

It is not easy for them to accept the new situation of being without their mother and getting milk in another way, different from feeding at the breast, so they need to be very patient and wait for the baby to accept it.

Can I give the bottle, or does it have to be someone else?

Some people say that breastfeeding mothers can never be those to give the bottle because the baby will always refuse it. This is partly true because the baby knows where their milk is and will not accept a second-best option. That said, if you must give your breast milk in a bottle, you can give it to your baby yourself; it doesn’t have to be someone else. Many mothers feel even worse about not being able to do it themselves and not being able to feed their children. But there is no reason not to do it if you want to; it may just be a little more difficult for you than when others try.

However, if what is happening is that you are trying to get your baby used to the bottle so they are ready for when you are not there, then our recommendation is that you don’t give a bottle. Don’t suffer or make your baby suffer while you both can still be together; the moment of being apart will come, and it is of no use to bring the bad moments forward.

What type of flow is better?

Your breast only has one single flow speed; there are no different flows depending on your baby’s age. Bottle feeding is usually much faster than breastfeeding. Babies who drink milk from a bottle usually drink large amounts in a short time, unlike when a baby is breastfeeding. Feeds at the breast always tend to be longer, and the amount babies take at each feed is not very large.

Most bottle teat brands have different flow rates depending on the baby’s age, but this is not necessary. If the baby drinks milk from a slow-flow bottle teat, it is best to keep it as long as possible. It is much better for them to have their milk slowly so that they can take their time to get full.

Which bottle nipple is less likely to interfere with breastfeeding?

Giving a breastfeeding baby a bottle is like buying a lottery ticket. Chances are you won’t win, but you might. The same thing happens with baby bottles; there are babies who know how to suck from the breast and from the bottle without any problems, and they will never get confused. But others do not know how to manage the change of sucking at the breast and then the bottle, this creates confusion, and they can end up not knowing anymore how to breastfeed and then refuse to breastfeed.

Therefore, to a certain extent, all baby bottles can cause nipple confusion for the baby and interfere with breastfeeding. But if there is no other choice and it is absolutely necessary to offer milk in a bottle, the person who offers it should do so by applying the so-called paced bottle feeding method to try to avoid the baby’s nipple confusion as much as possible.

Paced bottle feeding method

If you would like to learn about other methods of supplementing milk or receive more information about bottle feeding, here are links to other related posts:

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