When to Introduce the Bottle

Once breastfeeding is going well, your baby can begin drinking your breast milk from a bottle. You should avoid bottle feeding your baby if there are any problems with nursing at your breast because it can confuse your baby and increase the breastfeeding difficulties.

Many babies prefer drinking from certain bottles and nipples; you may need to try a few brands before you discover your baby’s preference. There are many options for nipple size and shape. The flow rate is determined by the size of the hole at the tip of the nipple; the slower flow bottles have a smaller hole. It is best to start with the slow flow (smallest hole).

How and when to introduce the bottle to a breastfed baby

To introduce the bottle it’s best to hold baby in an upright, almost sitting position that is similar to your sitting position. Hold the warmed bottle at an angle tilted just enough to fill the nipple. This tilt allows baby to keep control of when and how fast the milk comes.

The first few times your baby drinks from a bottle, ask your partner or another caregiver to hold your baby to do the feeding. If you are holding your baby, it may trigger the habit to breastfeed and make introducing the bottle more difficult. Begin introducing the bottle 1-2 weeks before you return to work or school. Your baby will need time to learn this new skill.

If you are returning to work or school, plan ahead and do a trial run or rehearsal of the new routine. Plan to leave your baby for 1-2 hours before you go back. Head to the grocery store or gym and leave your baby with the chosen caregiver. You can return early if you need to, but this helps you and your baby prepare for the new routine.

Continue breastfeeding as often as you can, and pump only when needed. Nursing your baby stimulates your body to produce more milk, so putting your baby to the breast keeps your milk supply strong.

Want to Know More?

Compiled from the following References:
Newman, J. (1990). Breastfeeding Problems Associated with the Early Introduction of Bottles and Pacifiers. Journal of Human Lactation, Vol. 6.
Brown, R., (2007). Can Bottle-Feeding Really Mimic Breastfeeding? Journal of Human Lactation Vol 23
Lyford, E., (2011). Bottle-Feeding the Breastfed Baby. Kellymom.com. Retrieved from https://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/feeding-tools/bottle-feeding/