At some point most of the families we support do end up wanting baby to be able to take some bottles for lifestyle purposes so we frequently encounter questions about introducing bottle feeding to breastfed babies. The truth is, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Each little one is unique, and so are the circumstances surrounding their feeding journey. Bottle feeding can be a helpful tool in maintaining a healthy balance for both parents and baby. It allows for flexibility and shared caregiving responsibilities, providing a supportive environment for the entire family. Introducing a bottle can be a game-changer in various situations.
We have noticed that babies who are introduced to the bottle by the end of their first month usually find it easier to take the bottle without problem. When families wait longer than that to introduce the bottle, it can become a bit more challenging. So when your baby is 3-4 weeks old, begin to offer a bottle every couple days to see if they can take it. If you find your baby is struggling at all, offer a bottle every day understanding that the more exposure baby has the more likely they are to take it.
Additional Tips for a Seamless Transition
For a smooth transition between breast and bottle, consider these practical tips:
Introduce the bottle gradually: Begin by offering the bottle when your baby is calm and not overly hungry.
Choose the right bottle: Opt for bottles with a narrow neck to encourage baby's mouth to open wide all the way around the bottle nipple
Maintain skin-to-skin contact: Continue to nurture the bond through skin-to-skin cuddles, even during bottle feeding.
Position the bottle to preserve good deep latching: Point the nipple up towards baby's nose and tickle the upper lip. When baby tips their head back and opens mouth widely, offer the nipple pointing it towards the roof the mouth. If baby does not begin to suck, gently press the nipple downward in towards the middle of the tongue. Sometimes stimulating the tongue will elicit a suck. And if that does not work, baby may need a little cheek support to help
If after a week or two of trying with your 3-4 week old baby you find they cannot latch on to the bottle, suckle or remove milk at a rate of 5-7 minutes per ounce, please reach out to us at Milkwell and we can help troubleshoot with you.
Remember, there's no "right" or "wrong" way to nourish your little one. What matters most is finding a balance that works for both you and your baby. The key is to cherish these precious moments and celebrate the unique journey you're on together.