Introducing a Bottle While Breastfeeding

How to Introduce a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby

I’m about six months into this first-time Mom business, and I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of things. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to exclusively breastfeed Christian up until recently when we started introducing solids – but we’ve definitely had our share of ups and downs along the way. One of our early challenges was getting Christian to take a bottle. I quickly realized that this is a common issue breastfeeding moms face, so I decided to share a few tips that helped us out tremendously.

#1 Start Early and (Somewhat) Often
This was probably the best piece of advice I followed. I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for at least the first six months, but I also wanted the freedom to offer breastmilk from a bottle in case I was away or out and about with Christian in a place that would make nursing difficult (like a dirty crowded NYC subway, for instance). Introducing a bottle early – within the first two weeks that we brought our little guy home – gave us a much smoother transition than if we’d waited longer. Since then, I try to feed Christian from a bottle a few times per week so that he remains used to switching back and forth.

#2 Find Your Perfect Match
We had to go through several different bottles (I think five brands in total) before finally settling on ones that worked for us. If you find that your baby refuses to drink from a bottle, this might be the easiest fix. There’s a dizzying array of bottle choices available, but we had a few requirements that helped us narrow down the playing field. I wanted something easy-to-clean, made of safe materials, and with a nipple design that wouldn’t disrupt my little one’s latch when it was time to breastfeed. Our top choice hands-down was the Boon NURSH Silicone Pouch Bottle. It met all of my requirements and has a nice soft design that mimics the natural feel of a breast. I notice that Christian definitely gets a lot gassier when he drinks from a bottle, so I really like the fact that Boon NURSH is designed with a silicone pouch that collapses as he drinks which helps to squeeze out any excess air that can lead to gas. You can find them on Amazon, and I think they’re a must-have item to add to your registry.

#3 Let Dad Give it a Shot
Truth be told, it was Eric who was finally able to get Christian to successfully take a bottle after my many lackluster attempts. Let’s face it – babies usually prefer to get their “fix” straight from the source. In the beginning, anytime I held Christian near my bosom he automatically wanted to nurse. We quickly found that when I left the room (or better yet, the apartment) little man was much less distracted and far more willing to take a bottle. As an added bonus, he and Dad got in some much-appreciated bonding time. It also eliminated a lot of pressure from being solely responsible for those late-night feedings. Fun-fact: Eric was also the one who got Christian to finally take a pacifier as well!

#4 Heat Things Up
Bottle feedings go a whole heck of a lot smoother when the milk is warm – around the same temperature as when it comes straight from mom. We went old-school in the beginning and just warmed our bottles on the stove. To be honest, the thought of fumbling around with a gadget with a hungry, fussy baby in tow scared me off from getting a bottle warmer at first. However, once I was introduced The First Years 4-in-1 Remote Control Bottle Warmer, I became a total convert. Warming up bottles of frozen milk is much faster than our previous stove top method (and a lot more precise). And now that Christian is eating solids, we can also use it warm up baby food. But the best feature has to be the fact that you can place a bottle in overnight (using the included ice packs that keep liquids chilled for up to 8 hours) and warm a bottle up before you even get out of bed using the remote. You can find the First Years Bottle Warmer on Amazon.

#5 Slow & Steady Wins the Race
As much as I wanted my baby to nurse from a bottle, I was also worried that he might start to prefer one over breastfeeding. Through my research, I learned that babies can develop a preference for the faster, more even flow of a bottle. To cut down on that risk, I always used a slow-flow nipple with my little one. That seems to have done the trick, and we’ve never had any issues switching between boob and bottle. Once Christian got the hang of drinking from a bottle, we began to incorporate pace-feeding which a method of bottle feeding that mimics breastfeeding. If you’re interested in pace-feeding, I highly recommend this article as well as this one.

So there you have it mamas (and papas!) – my quick tips and tricks for getting your breastfed baby to take a bottle. I by no means have it all figured out, so if you have any additional tips, feel free to share ’em in the comments!