Breastfeeding your baby is one of the most magical journeys a new mother can enjoy with her little one. It’s no easy feat, and certainly comes with its share of challenges, but the reward often far outweighs any trouble you may have. But as you make your way along your breastfeeding journey, you may find yourself needing to use a bottle to feed your baby! Consider this your guide not only on when to begin bottle feeding your breastfed baby, but also navigating the best bottles for your breastfed baby!

Why You Should Consider Bottles for Your Breastfed Baby

Utilizing bottles in your baby’s feeding routine is helpful in a number of ways. It allows you to pump, which can actually allow you to produce more milk for your baby as they grow. It also allows others to have the opportunity to share feeding with you, as you’re no longer dependent on breastfeeding alone. (Hello, sleep!) Additionally, if you’re planning on returning to work after your maternity leave, this is an important step to making sure your baby is still fed throughout the day when you’re gone! By pumping and storing your breastmilk, you make sure that your baby can be fed while you reenter the world.

When to Start Bottle Feeding

Refrain from starting the bottle feeding process until your breastfeeding routine is well established. This is typically between two to four weeks, and at this time, your little one will have the natural inclination to suck at anything you offer their mouth.

As they need to “re-learn” the suckling process on a new nipple, experts say this timeframe is ideal for a successful switch. They’ll be able to pick up on the different motor skills quickly, as they aren’t too dependent on the breast alone. By starting sooner rather than later, you can avoid bottle refusal.

How to Start Bottle Feeding Your Breastfed Baby

You’ll want to set yourself up for success here, too! Begin pumping after one feeding session every day, and freeze that leftover to use in your bottle. Over time, the additional pumping amount will grow, and you can build up an adequate supply!

When you decide to start teaching your little one to bottle feed you’ll want to choose a time of day when they are typically more patient and agreeable during feeding. Don’t wait until they’re too hungry or tired, or you’ll both end up frustrated! You’ll also have better success if another caregiver other than Mom feeds and tries to mimic your breastfeeding hold as best they can, so there’s little difference in their overall feeding experience.

Another thing to keep in mind is pacing the bottle. Babies tend to stop and start as they breastfeed, so ensure that your bottle isn’t in a constant, fast flow and overwhelming your little one. Instead, use a newborn-size nipple, go slow and be patient! This also makes sure the baby has to work to get the milk, the same as at the breast, rather than an easy, fast-flowing nipple that they may learn to prefer.

The Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies

Now that you’re ready to get started, you’ll want to make sure you have the right bottles on hand! The number one thing to remember when choosing the best bottle is that the size of the nipple is most important as the slowest flow is best to mimic Mom’s breast. Our top 3 best bottles for breastfed babies are the gradual slope bottles, the anti-colic bottles, and the natural nipple bottles.

  • Gradual Slope Bottles: A gradual slope bottle simply means that the top of the nipple is narrow, and then gradually slopes and changes to a more natural shape. This will encourage your little one to open wider and provide a seal similar to a breast that avoids air pockets. We suggest one like this bottle from Dr. Brown.
  • Anti-Colic Bottles: An anti-colic bottle slows down the flow from what you’d find in a standard bottle,  helping prevent gas and colic symptoms! We suggest this bottle by MAM or for a glass version the Evenflo ProFlo vented bottle.
  • Natural Nipple Bottles: These bottles offer nipples that most closely mimic a human nipple to avoid nipple confusion on your bottle feeding journey! They make it easy to switch back and forth between breastfeeding and bottle feeding, and are best used when you first start bottle feeding. Try one like this Natural Wave Nipple Bottle from Lansioh!

You’ll want to play around to find the right fit for you and your family. Along with time, transitioning from breast to bottle takes some trial and error, so don’t give up if the first bottle doesn’t work out! Try a variety to see what your little one likes best!

And there you have it!

With the right bottle and a bit of patience, you and your baby will have so much more flexibility during feeding times! By choosing the best time to transition and the ideal bottles for breastfed babies, you’re setting yourself up for success during this transitional time with your little one. Taking this step will make moving out of the newborn stage and into the first year much easier for you both. If you have any additional questions reach out to our International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) via info@bostonbabynurse.com.

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