As a breastfeeding mom it is very easy to feel like you will forever be walking around with a baby hanging off your breast, especially in the first couple of months.
Your life is full of cuddling, nursing sessions, diaper changes and smelling the baby’s head (what is it about their little heads?!) – before you know it another day has passed. If you are returning to work, or need to get out of the house for longer than 2-3 hours at a time without the baby in tow, you will have to break out the breast pump and make nice with the machine.
Be prepared that it will take more planning than just having pumped milk available for your baby. Not only will you need to get used to the pump, but your baby also has to get used to feeding from a bottle.
The key to success is planning!
In the early days of infancy, you are warned not to give your baby a bottle or pacifier to prevent nipple confusion. Then later you realize that your baby needs to LEARN how to use a bottle to feed when the two of you are apart.When should you introduce the bottle to a #breastfed baby? Don't do what I did! #Breastfeeding Click To Tweet
Now the million dollar question remains – WHEN do you introduce a bottle?!
– and THAT my friend is a question I can very simply answer: “Do NOT do as I did!”
My personal experience:
- Jacob was introduced to a bottle around 10 weeks old and never ended up taking one – EVER.
- Jordan was tube fed for 8 weeks, had his first bottle around 10 weeks and would only take it when he was REALLY hungry (and mad)!
- Jansen was about 8 weeks old when he tried his first bottle. He was 11lbs 5 oz at birth and always a great eater, so he didn’t really have a hard transition between the bottle and the breast. He just wanted to eat!
- Jonah was 12 weeks when he had his first bottle – and THAT was (waaaay) too late. He had a hard time getting used to the bottle and fought it with a vengeance. His hunger/ the bottle won eventually, but he fought it for two LONG/ stressful/ agonizing months.
I returned to work after taking 3-4 months maternity leave with each of the kids, so I always knew that bottles would be a part of our feeding routine.
However, our bottle feeding issues caught me by surprise every time. (Can you say: “new mommy brain fog”?!)
I have since our last experience with Jonah talked to lactation consultants (which in hindsight I should have done BEFOREHAND!) Lo and behold – I did it wrong all four times…
The optimal time to introduce a bottle:
(Regardless whether you supplement or give breast milk)
- When the baby is between 4-6 weeks old
- Once your breastfeeding routine is established
- The initial nipple soreness is healed
- The baby’s latch has been perfected
- Your milk supply has stabilized
- Any engorgement has subsided
- When the initial “new mommy fog” has lifted
The first few bottle feedings should just be practice, (remember that whole “planning” thing) – so not when you are out of town or stuck in meetings.
**Remember to keep your supply going by pumping when your baby is being fed a bottle.**
Who should give the first bottle? What happens if the baby won’t take the bottle?!… This – and so much more is addressed in our Breastfeeding articles!
* Please note that this advice is for full-term babies without any medical conditions. I am basing the information on my own personal experience and information provided by lactation consultants. However, if you have any further specific concerns or questions, please seek medical attention or contact a licensed lactation consultant.