WHEN to Introduce the Bottle to Your Breastfed Baby
Updated: Jan 5
I remember hiding in the hallway while my husband tried in vain to get our 8 week old baby to drink a bottle of my pumped breastmilk in the living room. Our son cried and would not suck on the silicone nipple with any amount of coaxing and cooing from his dad.
I had wanted to make sure that my baby was a champ at breast-feeding, and so we waited until eight weeks to introduce the bottle. He would have nothing to do with it! We tried all different shapes and sizes, other people feeding him, but to no avail. I eventually made peace with the fact that he would never take a bottle. I didn’t spend more than three hours away from him until he was almost one year old. That arrangement ended up being ok for us, but I know it isn't for everyone!
Most parents know about NOT giving a baby a bottle too early (or a pacifier for that matter) because nipple confusion can interfere with breast-feeding latch. However if you wait too long to give your baby a bottle, they may reject it. Here are the magic words I wish someone would have told me:
"If you want your baby to take a bottle without protest, you should introduce them to the bottle at 3-4 weeks of age." At 3 to 4 weeks old, most babies have established a good breast-feeding latch, but will still suck on anything. This is the time to introduce the bottle. Once the bottle is introduced, make sure to give the baby a bottle at least once every other day (if not once every day) to maintain their proficiency with it. Their whole feeding doesn't have to come from the bottle-stashing away even 1 ounce of pumped breastmilk will help you on your way - then you can fill your baby up from the breast! Four weeks of age will arrive quickly...Many parents feel they are just getting used to having a baby around! So plan ahead; make sure you have a pump and bottles sterilized and ready before you need to use them. Being able to give up on bottle feeding is not a luxury all mothers have. I feel lucky that I didn't HAVE to bottle feed my son - I went back to work when he was six months old, and only for a 2 1/2 hour class I taught once a week. If your baby will be in the care of someone else when you return to work, or you want to take more than a couple of hours to yourself, this early introduction of the bottle can make all the difference! Let me know how it goes!
Life Beyond Birth provides support for expectant parents, and new babies & their families, online and in-person. Find a class or contact Molly at www.lifebeyondbirth.com.