It has been debated for years whether the nipple-teat confusion exists or whether it is a myth. The truth is that there are babies who can suck a teat, a teat, a pacifier and nipples … And others who put a teat bottle in their mouth and it seems that they no longer know or want to breastfeed.
There are two main challenges with bottle feeding and they are as much for the content as for the continent. In the first place, the teat of the bottle, no matter how much they sell us that the teat of the bottle is similar to the breast, is not similar at all. Breastfeeding or sucking a nipple requires different movements of both the tongue and the musculature of the baby’s mouth. Second, the amount of milk that a baby usually receives from a bottle is much heavier than the amount he gets from breastfeeding. If we add to that that the time in which you will get the milk out of the bottle is going to be much less than the time you will need in the breast: frustration is served.
Some babies seem to have more ability to suck on anything, while others seem lost and bewildered in the breast after 1 or 2 bottle feeds.
What does a nipple-teat confused baby do?
Normally a nipple-teat confused baby is restless at breastfeeding, even rejecting the breast. Some babies even refuse to be put into a breast position, crying and putting their hands in front of the breast.
They tend to start by showing some difficulty when it comes to latching on, find it difficult to know where the breast is and move their mouth from one side to the other over the nipple, it seems that it is difficult for them to start breastfeeding.
When they do, they are nervous, make noises and move around a lot in the breast, they don’t seem to relax and pull the nipple nervously.
If the confusion progresses is when they do not want to breastfeed, even reacts aggressively when they are approached to the breast, despairing anyone and assuming that the baby no longer wants to breastfeed.
Of course, the bottle is easier
Far from what it might seem, for them eating from a bottle is no easier than suctioning the breast.
The sucking they do on the breast is much more physiological and allows them to control swallowing and breathing much better, making it a much less stressful experience.
When they drink from the bottle, they should put their tongues in front of them to stop the flow of milk that falls on them and avoid choking.
It’s not that it’s easier or more difficult, it’s totally different and the movements they make to express milk from the breast are very complex and “unlearn” how to do it.
In addition, receiving large amounts of formula in a very short time makes the breastfeeding experience frustrating and exasperating… it requires a lot of time and patience.
How can I fix it?
We have to evaluate each baby and each mother, see which is the particular situation. If the confusion is beginning and you’ve only recently taken bottles, it’s wise to remove them. We are talking about eliminating the bottle as a container to offer milk, not eliminating expressed milk or artificial milk, because if the baby needs them or you have opted for a mixed breastfeeding can not be removed all at once. The idea is to offer the milk in something other than a bottle in order to try to reduce confusion as much as possible.
You can use different methods of supplementation and see which one works best for you, in the same way you can perform the syringe-finger technique that makes it easier for the baby to place the tongue in a position similar to the one you would have when breastfeeding. In this way we train the baby to return to the breast.
What else can I do?
Another important thing to do is not to force the baby to start breastfeeding, the breast needs to be seen as an option not as an obligation. Being close to the breast skin-to-skin contact is very positive but when we put it close we will avoid to the maximum to “invite” him to breastfeed, he must be the one who does the step of looking for the breast and breastfeeding again.
In the same way, if at night we can sleep together and with little clothes, this sustained contact will help us again so that the baby can locate where the milk comes from.
Do you seem to be encouraged to breastfeed but protest after a while?
This situation is also quite common, the baby can start relaxed and as time goes by may become uncomfortable. This is due to the fact that the speed at which one is satiated is not as fast as with a bottle.
If the baby wants to breastfeed it is very positive, so you can take advantage of it and help make it easier for him or her.
The first technique to try is the breast compression technique, which makes it easier for milk to come out of the breast a little faster and the baby does not despair.
Another technique we can try is to use a supplemental nutrition system, so that the flow of milk is more constant and the baby does not lose interest in breastfeeding.
How long will it take?
This is perhaps the most complicated question to answer. It may not be easy at all, it may take weeks or months to reverse the entire process.
It is a laborious process that requires hard work and a lot of desire. No one can determine how long it will take for the baby to get it, no one can determine if we are going to get tired before we try.
What if I don’t?
It’s something that can happen, you don’t always get the baby to breastfeed again. And when we try we have to keep in mind that we are trying and it is not always achieved.