When to Introduce Bottle to a Baby

Breast feeding is generally considered the ideal way of providing nutrition to a baby, and in perfect situations it would be best if mothers exclusively breastfeed their baby. However, bottle feeding is a safe option adopted by many new mothers who cannot breast feed their baby all the time. Many mothers who work outside the home or have suffered from complications with lactation try to get their babies used to bottle feeding so that they may be fed by other caretakers. The qustion is when to introduce bottle?

Once your baby has spent some time being breastfed and begins to grow, you can alternate between breast feeding and bottle feeding. By using a breast pump, a mother can ensure that her child becomes used to both bottle and breastfeeding while making sure she provides her baby with the necessary benefits of breast milk.

When to Introduce Bottle to a Baby

It is important that you wait until your baby is at least 4-6 weeks old and breastfeeding is already established. It is likely that some babies take longer getting used to a bottle than others, so make sure that you take your time making the transition.

Signs of Readiness

You can often look to your baby’s nursing habits to find out when the best time is to replace or alternate breast feeding with bottle feeding. The baby will usually give cues when it is ready to be bottle fed.

If you find that your baby is less attached to feeding from your breast and stops nursing from your breast after sucking only a few times, then it may be a sign that your baby has lost interest in your breast. In this case, it is best that you first establish a feeding schedule and introduce your baby to the bottle.

Watch this video to learn more about when to introduce bottle and how:

How to Introduce Bottle to a Baby

Even if your baby’s nursing habits indicate that it is ready to be bottle fed, the transition can be complicated. Many mothers have trouble getting their baby to drink from a bottle so they often become irritated and give up. But it is important to remember that bottle feeding is a very new experience for a previously breast fed baby.

Sucking from a bottle nib requires different movements of the mouth and tongue than sucking from a breast. A baby may take time growing accustomed to this new mechanism of feeding, and some babies will undoubtedly take longer than others. Make sure that however long it takes, you continue to feed your child only pumped breast milk.

In order to make the process easier on yourself and your baby, you can take certain steps to encourage your infant to accept and be happy with the bottle.

Before You Feed

Plan to let someone else feed the first bottle

Your baby can sense and smell you, so try making the first few times of bottle feeding an experience with somebody new. Your baby will identify more easily with the bottle if she can differentiate between the bottle nib and your breasts. Once she begins to accept the bottle, you can begin to bottle feed her yourself.

Plan early and make a bottle feeding schedule

If you are a working mother, create a bottle feeding schedule so that your baby grows used to bottle feeding before being separated from you. It is best if your baby grows used to bottle feeding at least 2 weeks before you return to work. If you know you will not always be around by the time your baby is 2 months old, then try to introduce the bottle when your baby is still 5 weeks old. It will help you avoid complications later on.

Find the right time

When getting ready to use the bottle, create a feeding schedule based on when your baby is hungry. If he’s hungry, he will more easily accept the new bottle. Just make sure he isn’t too hungry, or he will become irritable and reject the new bottle nib.

Let him play with the bottle nipple as a chew toy

Give the bottle nipple to your baby as a chew toy before you begin bottle feeding. Let your child put it in his mouth, play with it and get used to it. Once your baby familiarizes himself with the bottle nib, he won’t be uncomfortable when sucking through it to drink milk.

Choose a bottle with a nipple that is slow-flow and similar to a pacifier

For better results, try buying a bottle with a nib similar to your baby’s pacifier. But a slow-flow bottle nipple made of the same material as your pacifier. This way, your baby will immediately feel a sense of familiarity with the bottle nib and have little trouble growing used to it. The slow flow will also ensure that your baby not gag on the nipple.

While You Feed

Sterilize the bottle

Remember to always sterilize every new bottle nipple, before you use it, for around 5 minutes. You need only sterilize a new bottle once but make sure you clean it thoroughly before and after every feeding.

Heat under warm water

Heat the bottle by holding it under a tap of warm water to ensure that the milk in the bottle warms but does not overheat the bottle nib. The bottle will be made of plastic and latex so if heated in the microwave, it can burn your baby’s mouth.

Feed in a proper position and angle

Feed your baby in a sitting position either facing you or lying on your chest. Then tilt the bottle vertically upwards while feeding so that milk goes down slowly and that your baby doesn’t get air.

Feed breast milk first

Test out the breast milk on the bottle nipple before you begin feeding; your baby will grow hungry and continue to drink from the nipple. This is why it’s important to continue feeding breast milk only. So that it isn’t too much of a change for your baby to meet the bottle.

Be ready for the rejection

Lastly, in the early days of introducing the bottle, be ready for your baby to cry and reject the bottle nipple. You may have to give in the first few times and switch to breast feeding. This will get easier with time.

Watch the following video to learn more tips on how to introduce a bottle to a baby: