Exclusive PumpingNewborn Mama 0-4 monthsThe Breastfeeding Partner

It Isn’t about the Bottle. It Is about the Bottle Feeder.

There are a ton of bottles out there claiming to be the best for the breastfed baby.

Tommee Tippee “encourages your baby’s natural feeding action, ‘just like mom.'”

Avent Natural Bottle claims, “the nipple features an innovative petal design for natural latch on similar to the breast, making it easy for your baby to combine breast and bottle feeding.”

The Joovy Boob Baby Bottle says, “the large diameter base and nipple length assist your baby in properly ‘latching’ onto the bottle.”

The list goes on and on.

So, which bottle is best? Well, it doesn’t really matter. I say start with the bottles in your house and make sure you’re using a slow flow nipple.

What is important is how you feed the baby a bottle. When babies breastfeed, they have both drinking time and sucking time. Meaning, they do in fact “use you as a pacifier” (gasp!). This is a really healthy way for them to eat. The pacifier sucking, or non-nutritive sucking, gives them time to digest their food and let their brain catch up with their belly. This is kind of like setting down your fork during dinner to take a sip of water or to talk with your husband. In most circumstances (over-producers aside) breastfeeding takes at least 20 minutes. Coincidentally, it takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that it is full.

Bottle feeding, however, doesn’t work quite the same. When a breastfed baby gets onto a bottle, he takes his super power breastfeeding suck and guzzles the bottle. It isn’t uncommon for a breastfed baby to finish a bottle in under five minutes and still look hungry. The problem with bottle guzzling is that the baby has had no opportunity to have non nutritive sucking time during which to allow his brain to catch up with his belly. He will therefore still think he is hungry and he will overeat himself.

Sound familiar? It is just like when you miss lunch and by dinner you are starving so you eat an entire plate of spaghetti and meatballs in five minutes. Fifteen minutes later you realize, “Oh man. I ate too much.” Right?

So, here are some way to slooooow your breastfed baby down when giving a bottle. This is a really, really, really important concept to understand when you are back to work. I have lots of cool videos available in the Pumpin’ Mama’s  Blueprint Program.

Paced bottle feeding:

1. Sit baby upright in your arms, not laying flat on his back. Can you drink easily while lying down?

2. Keep the bottle as horizontal as possible without letting air get into the nipple. If baby is laying flat-back and the bottle is perpendicular to his mouth, gravity will make the milk flow into baby’s mouth much, much faster. 

3. Tickle baby’s mouth with the bottle and wait for baby to open wide and latch himself onto the bottle. Don’t wiggle the bottle into baby’s mouth.

4. Watch baby closely. If he slows down or stops sucking, take the bottle out of his mouth or tip the milk back out of the nipple. What’s happening here is that baby needs a break, but the milk continues to drip into the back of his throat, so he must reflexively start swallowing again.  Also, a lot of people have the tendency to wiggle the bottle to prompt the baby to start sucking again, which interrupts the baby’s rest period. 

5. Stop baby every half ounce or so to burp. If he gets really upset at this, try giving him a pacifier to suck intermittently and while burping. 

6. Try to stretch the feeding to 15 minutes or longer. If you can’t stretch it that long, make sure you wait at least that long to decide whether or not that bottle was “enough.” Use the pacifier and other soothing techniques to hold him off for those 15-20 minutes. 

Sometimes, when a baby is really set in his bottle guzzling ways, he can get really mad when you start pacing his feedings. Just be patient with him and keep doing it. Soon, he will learn that the milk isn’t going anywhere and he will start to allow paced bottle feeding.