Posts Tagged "play"

How to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014

Let me start with a disclaimer. Not all babies need to have bottles. Babies who are doing well at the breast, and whose mothers are available and happy to provide the breast whenever the baby needs it, these babies do not need bottles. Not all mothers want to or need to spend time away from their babies. And some babies are peaceful and happy between feeds and can go 2-3 hours in the cuddly arms of the other parent or a grandparent while mom goes for a swim or a walk, or sings in her choir. But some babies and mothers need bottles. Some mothers need time away from their babies, for their physical, emotional, financial or professional health. These babies need bottles. And the mothers, having followed the best advice from breastfeeding experts which is to offer only the breast for the first six weeks, sometimes find themselves at 6, or 8 or 12 weeks, trying to get a very breast-imprinted and irritated baby to take a bottle. When babies are very new, in the first 4-6 weeks, they will suck on almost anything. A bottle nipple, or a breast, or a finger, or a pacifier, are all relatively easy for them to learn to use. But by 6-8 weeks, babies move on to using their mouths more for exploring and gumming and chewing. So when an 8-week-old baby is presented with a bottle nipple, that behaves in no way like a breast, the baby gets frustrated. Here is this thing in her mouth, it smells like milk, she can taste a little milk leaking out, but she can’t get it to work! Often, parents are given the advice to try the bottle with the baby when she is hungry, and that makes her even more irritated. And then Dad is holding her in his arms, in a position similar to the one in which she gets the breast, and instead she gets this hard rubbery thing which doesn’t work! So the baby howls, and the Dad or Other-Mother or Grandmother or Aunt feels very rejected indeed. So much for bonding with the baby by giving her a bottle! Very often, parents will try many, many different sorts of bottle and nipples, trying for the one which the baby will “like.”  They often ask me what nipple I recommend. My hunch is that no matter what nipples they try, no matter what the order they try them in, the baby will finally take the sixth or seventh one they try. It’s not that they have finally found the right nipple, but that the baby got some practice. So based on my basic knowledge of how to teach skills to children, and on some ideas I have gathered from clever, patient parents who have done this recently, here is the method I suggest. These instructions are intended for the Dad or other parent  – not the breastfeeding mom. This is a skill the baby needs to learn to do with...

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