Whether you are getting ready to introduce the bottle or transition baby to daycare, what follows are a host of helpful resources on bottle feeding for the breastfed baby you'll want to have your finger on.
What is paced bottle feeding?
When you think of bottle feeding, the image of a baby reclined nearly horizontal in a caregiver’s arms with the bottle angled down into the baby’s mouth is perhaps the traditional picture that comes to mind. However, this may not be the best approach to bottle feeding your infant, especially if that infant is fed from a bottle only when away from the breastfeeding parent and fed from the breast when together.
Why paced bottle feeding matters?
From the infant’s perspective, breastfeeding takes a lot more effort. Where a bottle can give a fast steady stream with minimal work, the breast has an ebb and flow and requires work for the baby to draw down more milk. When an otherwise breastfed baby is fed via bottle feeding - reclined and bottle angled for a steady flow of milk - that baby may then become impatient when she returns to the breast.
If you’ve ever eaten a meal too quickly, you know that it often takes awhile for your stomach to send your brain the message that you should slow down or be finished. The same goes for babies and bottle-feeding. Where the effort of breastfeeding and pauses in milk flow give the baby on the breast the opportunity to tune into those cues, bottles offered without a paced feeding approach run the risk of continually overfeeding baby.
If baby is overfed via bottle, it can mean a cranky, uncomfortable baby. It may also give the breastfeeding parent the impression that there isn’t enough milk for the baby and make it difficult for pumping to match the amount of milk baby consumes when away from the parent.
If your baby’s caregiver is unfamiliar with paced feeding or more accustomed to feeding formula fed bottles, it may be important to offer resources and education so that your baby is fed in a manner that works with your breastfeeding goals. For example, it is common to offer formula fed babies larger bottles, whereas breastfed babies often thrive with smaller bottles offered more frequently to better mimic their experience when at the breast. For more on how much expressed milk a baby needs, see Kellymom’s explanation of the recommendation for 1-1.5 oz per hour away.
If you are looking for solid information on pumping and maintaining supply, Nancy Mohrbacher’s discussion of the “Magic Number” is a helpful read.
How to paced feed - a collection of resources
Here is a whole collection of written and video resources that explain and demonstrate the paced bottle feeding approach. If you find yourself needing to communicate with your baby’s caregiver about this method, these are awesome resources you can share.
Kellymom on how to bottle feed a breastfed baby
Nancy Mohrbacher on paced feeding for the caregiver
Paced Bottle Feeding Video 1
Paced Bottle Feeding Video 2
Paced Bottle Feeding Video 3
Want more support in the childbearing year? Nested Mama offers breastfeeding education, doula support, sleep consultations, and more. Connect with Nested Mama on Facebook or Instagram for more tips and helpful information.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.