If you are an exclusively breastfeeding Mama, you may be wondering if and when to introduce your little one to a bottle. In the event that you need to be away from them for a bit, you are hoping to supplement with formula, or if you simply want someone else to be able to cover feedings from time to time, helping your baby to become accustomed to drinking from a bottle is sometimes easier said than done. Whether you are introducing a bottle for the very first time or experiencing some struggles with getting them to accept a bottle, here are some tried and true ways to make this transition as smooth as possible!
Many lactation consultants recommend offering an exclusively breastfed baby a bottle for the first time around one month of age, and then offering it at least once a week moving forward to help them get used to it. If you have already missed this window, don't fret! Just follow the steps ahead. For the first bottle feeding, Mama may choose to offer them the bottle or have someone else like Dad or Grandma do it. Some babies will accept a bottle with ease if offered from Mama since they are familiar with her smell. Other times, it is best to have someone else try because they may just want to breastfeed if that is what they are used to. Follow your baby's lead in this area. To begin, offering skin to skin contact and a familiar feeding setting will help your little one to get comfortable. Next, bring the bottle to their lips and help them to latch onto the bottle nipple. This is where things can possibly get tricky. Perhaps your baby will surprise you and latch right away, but sometimes they will not like the difference between breast and bottle and immediately refuse. Either way, don't panic! Read ahead for ways to work through a refusal.
As your baby gets used to flow of a bottle nipple, it is normal for them to have to learn to pace themselves accordingly. If you baby unlatches from the bottle during a feeding, calmy start over by offering them the nipple again. Consider that maybe they are full or are in need of a burping. Take a short break if needed and come back once they show signs of hunger. Trying different types of nipples can be helpful in this area as well until you find the one that suits your baby.
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