Paced bottle feeding for your breastfed baby

Did you know there is actually a “breastfeeding way” to bottle feed your baby?

While direct breastfeeding is always preferable to any artificial source or substance, paced bottle-feeding is a simple technique that is easy for parents or caregivers to master. The goal of a paced feeding is to allow the baby to suck, swallow and breathe as he would during breastfeeding; this method slows the flow of milk to better mimic breastfeeding and prevents a baby from overfeeding since he can control how much milk he consumes.  Whether you’re alternating between breast and bottle or exclusively bottle feeding, this is a gentler and healthier way to bottle feed your baby as it allows your tot to consume a volume appropriate to his size and age. It also helps keep babies interested in breastfeeding, since the flow of milk from the bottle is like that from the breast. Babies who are bottle-fed in a traditional reclining position can become easily frustrated at the breast since they are used to a much faster flow of milk.

Here are five simple steps to bottle feeding in a breastfeeding supportive style:

Step 1: Hold the baby at a 45-degree angle or close to upright. Avoid holding in a laid-back/reclining position, since that can reduce the baby’s control over the flow of milk.

Step 2: Use the bottle nipple to tickle the baby’s upper lip. You want the baby to open wide, just as he would when latching onto the breast. When the mouth opens wide, let the baby pull the bottle nipple in. The baby’s lips should be resting on the fat part of the bottle nipple. It’s important not to have a shallow latch here, since that may result in sore nipples when you go back to breastfeeding.

Step 3: Hold the bottle horizontally, parallel to the floor, when it’s in the baby’s mouth. This allows a limited amount of milk to enter the nipple, which slows the delivery rate of milk and allows the baby to breathe between swallows.

Step 4: Let the baby drink for 15-20 seconds. Then lower the end of bottle while keeping it in the baby’s mouth. Your baby will continue sucking for milk and then take a short pause.* Once the baby re-engages and starts sucking again, lift the bottle back up to the horizontal position so that milk flows back into the nipple. Allow the baby to drink for another 15-20 seconds before bringing the bottle down again. Continue this pattern for the rest of the feeding.

*Your baby will take in some air with this method, but swallowing fluids too quickly is a greater concern than swallowing air. A burp can take care of that!

Step 5: At some point during the feeding you’ll pull the bottle down and the baby won’t start sucking again. This is your baby’s way of ending the feeding. Do not coax your baby into finishing the bottle, even if a little milk is leftover. This defeats the whole purpose of paced feedings!