There are times on this breastfeeding journey when you might need to call upon the faithful bottle to help get you through. No, not the wine, but the expressed milk and teat type. Here are five helpful tips to make bottle feeding your baby easier…
Experts agree that introducing a bottle once your breastfeeding is established – around the four to six-week mark – is a good way to have a bit more flexibility when nurturing your baby. Not only does it mean your little one gets the benefits of your breastmilk, but it lets you delegate the feeding duties to other members of the family (over to you Dad) – helping them build stronger bonds and taking a load off your shoulders.
But here’s the thing – while it might seem like a simple thing to master, the realities of expressing and bottle feeding your baby can be more complex than you were expecting. Lifecake’s here to share some invaluable tips to help you on your way…
One: Try it for size.
Pre-baby you’ll have strolled past this aisle in search of more interesting supermarket pastures. Now the baby feeding section is going to become your stomping ground. Shelves are packed with various sized breast pumps, teats, bottles, sterilizing apparel and more. But don’t panic, it’s pretty simple.
To begin with, it’s worth getting a bottle starter kit. This normally includes a variety of teat sizes, bottles, and cleaners, etc. You’ll have to sterilize everything properly before you begin pumping/ feeding, and every time you use it thereafter. Once you’ve worked out how to express yourself (this joke will never grow old); whether it’s a manual or electric breast pump, you’ll need to discover which teat your baby prefers. If you’re starting out from six weeks, start with size 1 and move up to 2. This has a faster flow. It’s all about trial and error here, so persevere until you find the perfect fit.
Two: Introduce the bottle before the big day.
There’s nothing worse than relying on feeding your baby with a bottle, only for them to refuse it. Especially if you’re heading out for a special occasion or going back to work. This is why it’s a good idea to get your baby used to bottle feeding up to two weeks before you need them to, in a relaxed, calm and unhurried environment. This way, there won’t be a last minute worry that your baby is going to go hungry. Or having to cancel your plans because there’s no way they’re going near a bottle.
Three: Warming the milk.
To help your baby take a bottle, you want to simulate the breastfeeding experience as much as possible. This is why it’s important to warm your milk to body temperature, 37.5°C or 98.6 °F before you offer it. Some effective ways of doing this are: running it under a hot tap, or placing the bottle in a jug of boiling water and waiting for the temperature to gently rise.
Never, we repeat, never warm a bottle in the microwave or on the stove top. This can cause it to heat unevenly, resulting in hot spots in the milk which can burn your baby’s mouth and throat. We love this tip straight from a top Dad’s mouth: “During the night I’d keep a bottle of expressed milk in-between my legs. That way, when the baby woke up and my wife needed a break, the bottle was the perfect temperature.” Genius.
Four: Step outside.
While you want your baby to feel as relaxed as possible while feeding, having your trusty boobs in their line of sight is going to be confusing if you’re offering them a plastic substitute. Parents often find that their babies are more receptive to bottle feeding if the Mom leaves the room. This means they won’t be able to smell you or your milk with those tiny hypersensitive noses.
Five: Get the position just right.
You’ll be aware of how important positioning is with breastfeeding a baby. It’s equally as important when bottle feeding too. It’s really important when bottle feeding a baby not to hold the bottle too high, as negative pressure can mean more milk being drawn into your baby’s mouth. They’ll then have to swallow this to avoid choking. To avoid stressful feedings, make sure your baby is sitting up so that the bottle is parallel to the floor. You then tip the bottle slightly so that enough milk enters the teat. This allows your baby to find and establish their own feeding flow.
For more breastfeeding advice, check out our Breastfeeding Like a Pro Guide.