If you bottle feed your baby, you may have heard that paced bottle feedings help to bridge the gap between breastfeeding and feeding from a bottle. While breastfeeding is the most natural form of nourishment for an infant, there are ways to mirror the process and enjoy the many benefits that it offers through a bottle. We are going to dive into this topic to address common questions, such as what it means to pace feed and why it is important, how to use this method, as well as how it helps to address issues like gas and reflux. Read on to learn more!
First things first, let’s talk about what exactly it means to pace bottle feedings and why it is important. This technique describes a unique way of mimicking breastfeeding while using a bottle. It gives your baby all the control when it comes to pacing the amount of milk they are taking in, by slowing down the flow in the nipple, reducing the chances of overfeeding, and helping them to recognize once they are full. It also helps to increase bonding between Mama and baby. This is helpful if a breastfeeding Mama needs to be away from the baby and someone else will need to take over feedings. It also helps if your baby is exclusively formula fed as there are so many benefits to this method.
Now, onto how to pace feed! To use this technique, use the following bottle-feeding tips to mimic the exact way a baby nurses from the breast. Start by watching for early hunger cues, such as rooting, sucking, clenching fists or acting fussy. Next, sit the baby upright opposed to lying down to get them ready for their feeding. This position will help them to latch, suck and swallow from the bottle in a more natural position. Then, introduce the bottle to the baby's lips by brushing it up on their lips until they open their mouth to accept it. Once the baby latches, keep the bottle in a horizontal position to avoid forcing any milk into the nipple. Allow the baby to work by latching and sucking as they would if they were breastfeeding.
After about 20 seconds, slowly tip the bottle down to see if the baby wants to continue. If they respond by working harder to get milk, then that tells you that they are not quite satisfied yet. This will help to create a very similar method that closely mimics the process of breastfeeding while helping babies to tune in to their own hunger cues, opposed to just gulping down milk as it free flows from the nipple.
The feeding will likely last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, just as it would if the baby was nursing. Stopping part way through to switch sides is important, too! Maintaining eye contact and talking to the baby during the feeding are great ways to encourage positive bonding throughout. Be sure to follow the baby’s cues from start to finish by offering the bottle as soon as the first hunger signs are apparent and then look for signs of hunger being satisfied. These can be evident by the baby turning away from the nipple, falling asleep, holding hands in a relaxed and open position or otherwise avoiding sucking any longer. All of these tips mirror the way a baby would naturally eat during a nursing session while facilitating lots of close bonding!
Now that we know the what, why and how to pace feedings…let’s talk about some common issues related to feeding and why this technique is a great way to address them! Babies who are not in control of their feeding may experience discomforts such as gas and reflux. Between being mindful of this method and choosing formulas that are specifically made to target these struggles, avoiding these issues altogether is possible.
Oftentimes while being nursed, a baby will stop mid feed and then resume. They are more aware of how much their little bodies are truly craving opposed to just sucking down the bottle quickly because the person offering the bottle is in tune with their feeding cues. All of these things help to prevent gas, reflux and even colic from starting. Likewise, when choosing a formula, keep in mind that there are some great options for these exact issues in regards to comfort and digestion. Below you will find more details about each formula in the links provided:
Paced bottle feeding is a great tool to use for an array of reasons. From the many important benefits to increased bonding, addressing common digestive issues and closely mimicking a baby’s most natural way of eating, we hope this post helps you to feel confident in diving right in! Have you given this technique a try or do you have any questions!? If so, let us know below!
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One of the great things about formula feeding is how easy it is to feed your baby wherever you may be! Here we are going to answer some common questions many new parents have as they navigate formula feeding while out and about, and we are going to share tried and true tips so that you can coast right into this new adventure with ease.