If you choose to breastfeed, as I have with Tilly, there may become times when you decide you want them to take a bottle and not always be attached to the boob. You may choose to introduce a bottle for many reasons, either you have made the conscious decision not to breastfeed anymore or alternatively you want the option to be able to bottle feed as well as breastfeeding.
For myself, after Tilly was diagnosed with having cow milk protein allergy it meant that we moved away from offering formula and her exclusively feeding on the boob. This is great and she is now thriving, however, on occasions, it is nice as Mum to be able to get away and have a break without having a baby constantly with you. When Dennis and I decided we were overdue a date night, we arranged a babysitter, I expressed milk and we booked a table, however, it was only then we realised that she would no longer take a bottle at all. This resulted in the date night being cancelled and us doing our best to make the most of it with a takeaway and a scented candle at the dinner table.
However, this did highlight a problem for the future. It meant that as her Mum I physically did not have the opportunity to do anything without her in tow. Of course, I love her company and do enjoy breastfeeding however it is important to me that I have the choice to be able to unwind and take a little time for myself on occasion for some self-care. With this in mind, I and Dennis tried several different methods to re-introduce her to the bottle so this became a viable option again. Here are the tips that we tried and worked on.
Use Expressed Milk
Even if the plan is to move them onto formula, used expressed milk to begin with. Not only does it allow your baby the comfort and taste of the milk they are used to but it reinforces that learning this new method of feeding will get them the same results.
Try Different Bottles
When you start shopping for bottles you will realise that there are many options available and they all claim different results. Some claim to reduce colic, some are designed to replicate the breast more, with others stating they do both. Although naively I might add, I thought that a bottle was a bottle, when we started looking around we realised there was a lot a difference and the main difference was the teat. If you are considering introducing a bottle to your baby, I would recommend trying a variety of different bottles firstly to see if any particular brand suits your baby.
Encourage Them To Latch
When you first start your breastfeeding journey you teach your baby to open their mouth wide and for your nipple to sit at the top of their mouth. In order to get your baby to take the bottle, you need to recreate this technique. Where possible aim to teat upwards to recreate this although if this is too challenging, rotate the teat in their mouth and push and pull the bottle out slightly. This action will cause the baby to latch down on the teat and for feeding to start.
Swaddle The Baby
We found that when bottle feeding that Tilly was very active in swatting the bottle away making it hard for her to latch and her feeling disconnected from the intimacy that comes with breastfeeding. By swaddling her before the feed, we were able to imitate a sense of security for her and eliminate her ability to hit the bottle away. This then allowed the feed to be successful and her to feed well. Once she becomes more confident and used to bottle feeding the swaddling won’t become a necessary step, but for now, it is very much needed.
I won’t sit here and say it is easy. She is still extremely fussy with a bottle and will only take enough to satisfy her thirst, however, all of the effort has been worth while. We at least know she can take a bottle when needs-must and now she is solids that need has decreased.
Whatever your reasons are to introduce a bottle as long as you and your baby are happy that is all that matter. Good luck with your feeding journeys and I would love to hear about what struggles you have faced or what has worked well.