How to Introduce a Bottle to Your Breastfed Baby

How To Introduce A Bottle To Your Breastfed Baby
Bottle feeding a breastfed baby may be easier if someone other than you gives the baby a bottle. Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

Bottle Feeding Your Breastfed Baby

There are many reasons you may want to start bottle feeding your breastfed baby. You may need to supplement your baby's diet if you have a low breast milk supply; you may be planning to return to work; or, perhaps, you may simply want to take a break from breastfeeding.

Whatever your reason, if you do decide to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby, it doesn't mean that you have to stop breastfeeding.

You can definitely continue to breastfeed along with supplementing your baby with either formula or your expressed breast milk in a bottle. So, how do you go about offering a bottle to your baby if you're a breastfeeding mom?

When Is a Good Time to Begin Introducing a Bottle?

The ideal time to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby is between 2 and 3 weeks of age. However, it is important to make sure that your breast milk supply is well-established and that your baby is breastfeeding well before offering a different kind of nipple. At the same time, if you wait too long before introducing the bottle, your baby may reject it. So it's best to stay within that window of time to avoid any type of nipple confusion or preference. It is also a good idea to have someone other than you offer the bottle to your baby, especially at first.  Babies are smart, and they know what they can get from mommy.

If you try to give your child the bottle, it's more likely he won't take it because he knows that he can breastfeed from you. 

Bottle Feeding Is Different Than Breastfeeding 

Remember that it's fine if your baby doesn't polish off the bottle. If she's used to breastfeeding, it's impossible to tell how much she should be taking.

Also, if the baby finished the bottle within minutes, it does not mean that the baby needs more. Sometimes it's something as simple as the change in the nipple.  

Fast-flow bottle nipples could just be giving your baby the feeding in a shorter amount of time. It's sink-or-swim: If your baby doesn't quickly swallow the milk from a fast-flow bottle nipple, she'll choke. So if it seems that she's feeding too fast, you can try a slow-flow or newborn nipple to slow down the feeding. 

How to Introduce a Bottle to Your Breastfed Baby

  1. Prepare the bottle about a half an hour before the baby's would be due to breastfeeding. The chances of rejection are less if the bottle is all ready to go rather than if your baby is hungry and has to wait for it to warm up.
  2. Warm the bottle's nipple under hot water. 
  3. Sit in a place where the baby does not typically breastfeed.
  4. Hold the baby in your arms, or preferably someone else's arms like dad's or grandma's, and keep his head a bit higher than the rest of his body.
  5. When the baby opens his mouth, make sure his tongue is down, and place the nipple of the bottle well into his mouth centered on his tongue.
  6. Sing or talk to your baby.
  7. If your child is very slow at first, that's okay. Remain patient and, once he understands he can get milk from that nipple as well, he should start a rhythmic feed.
  1. Burp your baby very often. Bottle feeding is different than breastfeeding and babies tend to swallow much more air when they drink from the bottle. 

Edited by Donna Murray

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