How to get your baby to take a bottle after breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is ideal, but what happens when you return to work and take your breasts with you? Midwife Pippa Hime looks at ways to help baby transition from breast to bottle when you’re not close during feeding times.

Feeding your baby can be one of the most relaxing, magical experiences, but it can also create anxiety when the thought of not being able to breastfeed starts to be become a reality. For many moms maternity leave is not indefinite. And with the return to work, starts the challenge of getting baby to start taking a bottle. This can be be tricky, especially if your baby has not been exposed to a bottle in the first few months.

ALSO SEE: 10 things your dietician wants you to know about breastfeeding and work

Tips to get baby to take a bottle:

  1. If possible, try to introduce the bottle early to your baby. The longer you wait for baby to have a bottle, the fussier they can get. When they are used to the breast, a new way of feeding can confuse them completely – especially when it happens so sudden.
  2. Make sure your baby is actually hungry, but not starving. You need to catch that perfect window of opportunity when they are calm and thinking about a meal, but not starving and “hangry”.
  3. Get someone other than you to give the bottle to baby. Your baby will associate you with warm, cosy, snuggly breastfeeds and may just refuse the bottle if offered by you.
  4. Don’t give up if baby doesn’t like the first bottle you try. There are many different brands of baby milk bottles. There are also latex and silicone teats. Try a peristaltic teat as its flow can be similar to breastfeeding.
  5. Make sure the flow of the teat is age appropriate. A baby that has a strong suck will get frustrated with a slow flowing teat.
  6. Get the temperature right. Remember, breast milk from the breast is body temperature, so bottle milk that is too warm or too cold may be a problem.
  7. Try different positions. Some babies like being snuggled in the cradle hold as if they are breastfeeding while others might prefer to sit up or face out. You can even try placing baby in a bouncy chair.
  8. Try distractions. For example, try walking around the garden for example with baby facing out. Little distractions can help.
  9. Try giving baby a dummy so that she gets used to the feeling of a teat in her mouth.
  10. Don’t give up! Your baby will need to adjust to the bottle if you are returning to work, so persevere. In a worst case scenario, a cup or syringe feed may be necessary.
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