When To Introduce a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby

baby bottle

Many moms who breastfeed look forward to getting a break and being able to offer their baby a bottle. Just because a baby is bottle fed doesn’t mean they aren’t getting breast milk. One of the best things about breastfeeding is that you get flexibility when it comes to feeding your child, while knowing they are getting the best possible food for their little bodies.

By finding the right breast pump you can pump when the time is right for you and use the milk to bottle feed. This is particularly important for moms who work outside of the home and those who just need a break. Sometimes you want a moms’ night out without worrying about how baby is going to get fed. By pumping and bottle feeding your spouse or babysitter can take care of that for you.

When to Introduce a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby

The general consensus is that introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby should wait until your little one is 4 to 6 weeks old. This give them enough time to practice latching and nursing from the breast. Of course, if your child doesn’t latch and seeing a lactation consultant doesn’t help then you will want to introduce a bottle immediately.

Regardless of the bottle brand you use, your breasts’ nipples are completely different than a bottle nipple. By waiting 4 to 6 weeks you avoid nipple confusion so you can easily nurse your baby when you’re with them.

What is nipple confusion?

Nipple confusion is what happens when a baby isn’t given the opportunity to get used to nursing from their mom. When a baby gets used to feeding from a bottle they suddenly have a hard time latching on their mom’s breast and nursing effectively. This is because a bottle’s nipple is not just shaped differently than a woman’s, it also flows faster. Babies have to work harder to nurse from their mom and can essentially become lazy.

Signs of nipple confusion:

  • Refusing the breast
  • Fussy at the breast
  • Inability to latch or stay latched

Overcoming Nipple Confusion

Nipple confusion can be scary and frustrating, but it can be overcome with patience and diligence (isn’t that what all babies require?).

Here is how you can overcome nipple confusion:

  • Keep skin-to-skin contact as a regular part of nursing during the early days
  • Watch baby for hunger cues
  • If baby won’t latch try tempting them by expressing a little milk
  • If baby won’t latch, try cup, spoon, or syringe feeding instead of resorting to a bottle (talk with your lactation consultant and doctor to ensure your baby is getting enough milk)

Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your child, but it takes work and practice. By introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby at the right time, you can ensure your breastfeeding journey is as easy as possible.

If you have questions about breastfeeding or are Maryland or Washington D.C. based mom looking for a breast pump, contact us. We can help you get your insurance covered breast pump for free.

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