top of page

How to Introduce and Feed Your Baby from a Bottle | 3 Part Series

Updated: May 8

How to Introduce and Feed Your Baby from a Bottle If you skipped right here to learn how to introduce and feed your baby from a bottle I encourage you to read the first two blogs in this three-part blog series. They cover why and when and are important pieces of the feeding puzzle. This blog is also helpful in reintroducing the bottle if you've used a bottle to feed your baby previously.

Let's get started! First become familiar if you're not already with how to properly handle and prepare breastmilk and formula for your baby before you are ready to introduce the bottle. Select a bottle you are comfortable with using. Honestly, you don't need any special bottles (or formula for that matter, but that's a  blog for another day), BUT the nipples matter. A preemie, size zero nipple is as close to the biological norm as you can get. For that reason, I recommend them, especially when paced bottle feeding (PBF).

Next, you'll want to begin at a time when your baby is showing early signs of hunger. If you can avoid active or late feeding cues you may both have a better experience. Make sure your baby has a clean diaper or minimally wet diaper with no poop! Unswaddle your baby and have a burp cloth within reach! I know those little hands get going all kinds of crazy, but there is a reason they do that and a reason you want to be able to see those tiny digits during feedings!

Warm the milk just slightly. Check the temperature of the milk by swirling the bottle around and dropping several drops on the inside of your wrist.  The milk should not feel hot on your wrist and be anywhere between room temperature and body temperature.  Once you are ready to feed your baby hold them in an upright position and continue this upright position as you feed them. Doing this not only lowers the risk of spit up and choking but also ear infections.

The entire feeding should mimic breastfeeding and last between ten- and twenty minutes. The feeding should be led by your baby's cues and controlled by the person feeding the bottle. The milk should last the duration of the feeding versus allowing your baby to suck it down as quickly as possible. The brain needs time to catch up with the stomach.  By controlling the feed and making it last ten to twenty minutes your baby is less likely to overeat, spit up, and prefer the ease of bottle-feeding over the work of breastfeeding.

How do I control the feeding?

Hold the bottle in a position that is horizontal to the floor. When you do this the milk does not fill the entire nipple, but rather the tip of the nipple only. Lightly brush the nipple in a downwards motion against the skin just below the nose and towards the upper lip, you could even drip a single drop of milk there as you do it. This should signal the baby's rooting reflex. When baby opens his/her mouth put the nipple just inside the baby's mouth keeping it horizontal with the floor and allowing the baby to pull the nipple in instead of pushing the nipple into the mouth. Allow your baby to dry suck (no milk coming out) the nipple two or three times to imitate the way the breast responds to a baby. Then lift the end of the bottle slightly so that the milk barely enters the nipple and allow baby to get four or five good swallows of milk.

Encourage breaks that mimic the natural let-down patterns that happen while breastfeeding. Maintain in control of this natural pattern throughout the feeding. To do this about every fifth suck lower the bottle just slightly so that there's no milk left in the nipple. Yes, the baby will suck in some air. Generally, this is not a problem, doesn't cause colic or your baby to be overly gassy.

Remember to switch sides halfway through the feeding and to take at least two burp breaks. Switching sides about halfway through helps with eye development and can reduce the chances your baby will develop a preference for one breast over another during breastfeeding (if you're breastfeeding too). Continue with five or so milk sucks and two to three dry sucks and watch your baby's cues. You want your baby to be full and content, but not overfilled.

Watch their little hands and other cues. Is baby still voraciously sucking? Is your baby wide-eyed? Are her hands clenched? Yes? Then your baby is likely still hungry. Are you having to push the nipple back into her mouth or wiggle it in between her lips? Is she dosing off or seem to be losing interest? Are her hands more relaxed or open then at the beginning of the feeding? Yes? Then your baby is likely full. The baby does not need to finish the milk at every feeding.

Learning why, when, and how to introduce and feed your baby from a bottle doesn't have to be difficult or overwhelming. With a little patience, practice, and support you will be a pro! Be sure to watch Elizabeth demonstrate how to introduce and feed your baby a bottle. If your baby is resisting a bottle or you would just like to schedule a one on one consult with us for bottle-feeding support, get in contact with us and we can work one on one with you to get your baby on track!

Happy Birth & Parenting!

~Elizabeth Luke

6 views0 comments


bottom of page