There are many reasons why women find that they need to use a bottle with their baby. Whether you will be pumping breastmilk or using formula in a bottle, it can be challenging to make the transition. The following tips will help.
Weaning a young infant to a bottle is generally fairly easy, a bit of practice and baby will get the hang of using a bottle in no time. However, older infants may find it quite challenging to get used to the idea of a bottle. They are used to the warm and comforting breastfeeding relationship and may need some coaxing to take a bottle.
Before you transition your baby to a bottle, it may help to choose a bottle nipple designed to emulate breastfeeding. Many bottle manufacturers have designed nipples that are wider and resemble the breast. These bottles are designed to help mother and baby transition smoothly between breast and bottle, and they may be just the thing to help you.
Especially if your baby is older, you may need help from another member of your family to transition your baby to a bottle. Because baby is used to being nursed, he may fight the idea of taking a bottle. If you are holding him, he may get very frustrated that you are not allowing him to nurse. It may sound funny, but sometimes the easiest way to transition an older baby from breast to bottle is to have someone else do it. If your baby’s father or another family member can feed the baby for a time, while you are out of the room, the transition may go more smoothly. If baby is hungry and you are not there to feed him, he may settle for a bottle more easily.
If your baby has been exclusively breastfed up to this point, he will be attached to you through that special bond. The bond that forms while you hold and snuggle your baby is very comforting and healthy for baby. While transitioning baby to the bottle it will be important to maintain that same bond. Many women are tempted to have older babies hold the bottle and feed themselves wherever they are, or prop a bottle up for a younger baby to feed themselves. Avoiding this temptation will preserve that very important bond. If you have returned to work, requesting that the baby’s caretaker hold him while he eats and then spending that quality time with him once you have returned home, will also play a crucial role in maintaining that bond.
Whether baby takes to the bottle right away or requires a bit of nudging along, he’ll soon learn to enjoy his bottle feeding time with you as much as he did breastfeeding. Keep up the good work!
If you plan on continuing to nurse while supplementing with a bottle please refer to our article on breastfeeding and bottle feeding. If you are switching from breastmilk to formula, please see our guide on how to do so.