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Introducing the bottle to a breastfed baby

With bottle feeding, partners or other caregivers can share the experience of feeding Baby. After all, is there anything sweeter than a sleepy baby who loves to cuddle while being fed? Breastfed babies can have a few different reactions to the idea of bottle-feeding, so it can help to be prepared in case your little one doesn’t take to it right away, but eventually, adding bottle-feeding to the mix could be a great addition to your feeding routine.

When should I introduce the bottle?

Every baby is different, but most lactation consultants suggest waiting until breastfeeding is well established before you introduce a bottle to your infant. This helps to avoid any confusion that Baby could feel when switching between the breast and a bottle at a young age. It is usually safe to begin bottle introduction once your baby is roughly a month old.

While you want to make sure that breastfeeding is well established first, you also do not want to wait too long before giving Baby a bottle for the first time. This is especially true if you will be returning to work and relying on bottle feeding during that time. At the very least, you should begin introducing a bottle 2 weeks before you return to work.

What if I have trouble introducing the bottle?

Some breastfed babies are especially picky about bottle nipples, so don’t be discouraged if Baby doesn’t like the first one you try. Some babies also don’t respond well to being offered a bottle by mom if they’re used to breastfeeding – they know their preferred feeding method is just an arm’s reach away beneath a shirt, and they won’t stand for any imposters, so having a partner, friend, or other caregiver offer the bottle first can help.

Try to leave the house when Baby receives a bottle for the first time, as your presence can make them more wary of taking the bottle. With a little luck, you’ll have a pleasant surprise waiting for you when you return.

  • “A situation has come up where I need to feed my baby with a bottle. Can you help?” La Leche League International. La Leche League International, November 29 2008. Retrieved October 25 2017.
  • “Introducing the Bottle.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Retrieved October 25 2017. 

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